Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas resident Jimmy Emory knew he couldn’t miss this year’s Las Vegas Pride Night Parade on Friday night.
He leaned over the railing on Fourth Street waving a miniature rainbow flag in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and cheering at each float. It’s been 12 years since he'd last attended the Pride Parade.
He said he ignored previous years' parades because they weren’t big enough. There were maybe five or six good floats, he said, but the rest weren't worth watching. This year, however, 85 LGBT and straight organizations and businesses were involved, many with floats on display. Emory said the parade’s quality has caught up with the size of Las Vegas’ LGBT community.
“It means we’ve finally gotten the notoriety we’ve needed for years in Las Vegas,” Emory said. “This is Vegas, half of the show performers are gay, but this has been a very closeted town. Now we’ve finally got the attention.”
Thousands of people joined Emory to watch the 15th-annual Pride Parade in Las Vegas, which coincided with the city’s annual First Friday event. People flooded the sidewalks lining the street with rainbow flags, neon necklaces, colorful outfits and signs in support of the LGBT community.
“It’s been a good show of support from the entire community,” said parade chairman Ernie Yuen.
Rich Stevens, who is from San Diego, came in his traditional gay pride parade costume: a glitter rainbow top hat, violet shoes, no shirt and short shorts among other accessories. He said he has been to 16 pride parades throughout the country wearing the costume to show his pride.
Another group of Christians, who represented the Marin Foundation, wore “I’m Sorry” shirts and held signs that read, “We’re sorry for being a bad example of Jesus.” April Rivera said their goal was to apologize for the negative way many churches have treated the LGBT community and build a relationship with them. Rivera said the Pride Parade was the perfect place to start.
“Today is the start of bridge-building in Las Vegas,” Rivera said. “It’s been long overdue.”
The parade kicked off with a speech from celebrities Kathy Griffin, Joan Rivers and Margaret Cho. For two hours, a flood of color, cheers, dancing, floats and pride flowed down the street.
Men dressed in elaborate drag outfits including a fairy-tale themed group, other danced around scantily clad. A convertible with two men in back read, “Just Married.” Parade walkers blew whistles, played music and passed out beads to the cheering crowd.
At one point a girl in the parade shouted, “I’m a lesbian and I’m proud.”
Pete Arias came with three other friends from Jacksonville, Fla., to attend the parade and visit their friend who lives in Las Vegas. Prior to even seeing the first float, he was impressed.
“It’s open diversity,” Arias said. “It’s something you do not see in Jacksonville ... We wouldn’t see it on this scale.”