“LOVE WINS,” read a poster held by Human Rights Campaign volunteers as they marched down Fourth Street, their fellow marchers handing out the nonprofit’s blue and yellow equals-sign stickers to the cheering crowd lining the Downtown streets. Last year, you wouldn’t find that sentiment anywhere at the annual Las Vegas Pride Night Parade—Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage had yet to be struck down, and the Supreme Court was months away from releasing its decision—which made Friday night’s celebration even more joyous.
As usual, Dykes on Bikes kicked off the procession, the sound of their buzzing motors fighting for prominence with the thunderous applause and hollers from the thousands looking on. The energetic crowd seemed vastly larger this year, four or five people deep along the route with lots of parade spectators spilling into the Fremont Street Experience and near Neonopolis. The rainbow-rich cavalcade isn’t just a chance to celebrate diversity and unity; it’s an opportunity for the LGBT community and its allies to be seen. Pride offers LGBT visibility to the larger Las Vegas community, to our elected officials and, maybe most importantly, to the LGBT youth who have yet to come out of the closet—and some who already have.
“8 years old trans & loved,” read another sign held by a smiling mother, her child gleefully walking with her. “I am proud of my daughter,” read Laura Hernandez’s poster, her teenage trans daughter Kristina beaming and waving to those cheering in support. That’s why this march happens—to exhibit pride in who we are and show acceptance among all walks of life. And maybe to marvel at a fabulous drag queen or two.