Long Beach showed their pride at the Gay and Lesbian parade.
Sunday, May 18, Long Beach hosted the 30th annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade to show support to the gay community. Thousands of people went to the event, which was hosted by TV host and ambassador for the day, Ross Matthews. Ross Mathews is one of E! Entertainment’s hosts with his own television show. He has been a part of the gay community for over thirty years.
Local businesses located in Belmont Shores’ “rainbow district”, gathered to show support for the gay community, by coming out on floats and promoting their local businesses. The parade started at 10:30 a.m. on Lindero Ave. on Ocean Blvd to downtown Long Beach.
“The parade has gone by my house for the past couple of years,” said Jennifer Contreras, a resident of Long Beach. “It’s always a lively event.”
According to the Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade website, Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride was established in 1983 and had their first annual parade in 1984. The Board Directors felt that with such a large gay and lesbian population, there was a need to increase awareness and to promote pride and a greater sense of self-worth within the community. Additionally, the Board felt it important to facilitate greater cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between the lesbian and gay community and the community of Long Beach.
Live entertainment and music was provided by the parade, and gay pageant winners from last year including Big Dee, Mark “Markie” Magdaleno, Jewels, Bella Farrow, Sasha Scarlet and other winners dressed in drag from last years parade hosted the event. Contests including prizes were also given out for best costumes and floats. These contests include most colorful, best designs, and floats with the most supporters for the gay community.
Natalie Sanchez, a 18 year old communications major, said “The gay pride parade is a great way to show support, and to see some fun and flamboyant costumes that people wear for the day. It is definitely quite a show watching men in women’s clothing walking around, but it definitely makes the parade worth going to and showing support.”
Even those who are not a part of the gay and lesbian community came out to show their support. Many moms, dads, and family members who are a part of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) came to show support for their sons and daughters as the parade went on.
“It was definitely very touching to see so much love from different family members at the parade”, said Natalie Gomez, a 22 year old graphic design student.
The Long Beach parade is one of the largest gay and lesbian activist events that occur in California, next to the LA parade. The parade attracts people who come and show their support by dressing up or simply enjoying the festivities and flying rainbow flags.
“I’ve been a part of the long Beach gay community for 10 years,” said Melanie Lee, 25, Business major. “Pride day gives me a day to really be myself.”