I’ve never been to a Pride parade before. And yet somehow I knew what to expect: lots of wild costumes, water guns, and gays and lesbians. The Vancouver Pride Parade didn’t disappoint. There was lots of dancing, plenty of thongs, nipples, leather, chains, and pirates (must be some theme this year). The weather was perfect for a parade: hot enough that no one in thongs experienced any shrinkage and everyone enjoyed the waterguns, but not too hot that I died watching.
I had a really good time. The crowd was loud, proud, and boisterous: whistling at everyone who walked by, screaming, clapping, and dancing. It was like Mardi Gras – they were even tossing beaded necklaces into the crows – well at least the police and the firemen were.
I was really interested at the composition of the floats. There were groups representing gays and lesbians in every possible religion and culture, including Buddhists and Aboriginals. There were lots of businesses – some catering to gays, some progressive (like VanCity Credit Union), and some just out to be everyone’s friends (TD Bank or Labatt).
Then there were the political floats. It was interesting to see the Liberals. They came individually, I guess representing the fact that not everyone in the party supports gay rights. Hedi Fry had an amazing float and was dressed in drag. She was a big crowd favourite. Another Liberal MP didn’t even mention the Liberal party anywhere on his float. The Conservatives had a car with 2 people in it. When it came by the crowd went silent. It was eerie. At least no one booed this time (like in Montreal). The NDP came with lots of orange balloons and were met by lots of clapping and cheering. Jack Layton was the only federal leader to show up.
Then there were some floats by random progressives – anti-war activists, Amnesty International, unions, environmentalists, etc. My favourite floats were the ones with loud music and louder costumes. Oh and the mechanical bull was cool too (that might have been on Hedi’s float).
After the parade there was a big party at Sunset Beach. There was a stage with live bands and a few impassioned speeches about gay rights (most denouncing Stephen Harper). There were also a ton of booths with a range of material and goodies. I got tattooed at the NDP booth. Home Hardware had the best sales pitch: “Get your condoms and lube from Home Hardware. You can do it; we can help.” And I found a booth that was advertising a Vancouver Car Co-op. Basically, you buy into the program and get access to cars left all over the city. It looks far cheaper than owning or leasing, especially for someone like me that doesn’t drive very often. I’m going to look more into this.