Popular Puerto Rican merengue recording artist Elvis Crespo and Mexican pop singer Christian Chavez will be performing on the Steamworks Latin Stage this Sunday – the first major male Latino artists to perform at San Francisco Gay Pride, reports El Mensajero.

“It is not easy to get male artists,” Jamie Awad, the owner of Club Papi who helped create the Latin Stage, told New America Media. “Machismo in the Latin community is difficult to overcome and so it
becomes difficult to find male Latino artists to speak up against the issue. It was a twist for us to have two strong male artists.”

Chavez, who is openly gay, will be performing his latest single, “Libertad.”

Crespo, popular for his “Suavemente” merengue hit, will perform hits from his latest album, “Indestructible,” as well as some of his classic hits.

Crespo, who is heterosexual, is performing as part of his Indestructible Gay Tour, a series of performances at gay clubs and pride events across the country to bring attention to the LGBT community’s fight against discrimination and in support of equal rights.

“The fact that there’s been a lot of killings and slaying of trans people in Puerto Rico, the fact hate crimes laws have not really been put on the books, and the constant homophobia, along with the
opportunity to tap into his gay fan base were some of the reasons why Crespo decided to do this,” Joe Granda, owner of the promotional company Granda Entertainment, who worked with Awad on Crespo’s national gay tour, told New America Media.

Crespo’s arrival in San Francisco is also welcome news to the San Francisco gay Latino organization AGUILAS (Asociación Gay Unida Impactando Latinos/Latinas A Superarse, translated as the Association of United Gays Impacting Latinos/Latinas towards Self-Empowerment).

“It’s great. I’m glad he’s doing it; I’m glad we can get him. Usually it’s hard to schedule the artist. As great as San Francisco is, not too many artists live here and so it’s difficult to fly them over here
for an hour and I’m glad he has put this [LGBT issues] on his list,” Eduardo Morales, executive director of AGUILAS, told New America Media.

The Latin Stage was created about 16 years ago after Awad noticed a lack of diversity within San Francisco Gay Pride.

“They wouldn’t let you play Spanish music,” said Awad. “This is like 1996-1997. I remember we had finally gotten a board member that had gotten us a Latino time slot (12:00-12:30 PM) and I was really pissed off about it (that we only got half an hour).”

Awad, along with board member Bill Beasley, worked to help diversify San Francisco Gay Pride.

“The Latin stage was the catalyst for diversity at pride. Every year for three years we had to move to a bigger venue. There’s been years where we’ve had bigger stages, bigger than the main stage,” said Awad.

The Steamworks Latin Stage will be located at McAllister and Van Ness in the Civic Center near City Hall.

“I feel really good about the line-up for this year,” Awad said. “Latinos know how to party. They embrace music, they embrace culture. You’re going to have fun.”