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July 31, 2014

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Revelers join in Las Vegas parade to celebrate gay pride

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Christopher DeVargas

Participants march in the 15th annual PRIDE night parade in downtown Las Vegas, Friday Sept. 6, 2013.

15th Annual Pride Parade

Participants march in the 15th annual PRIDE night parade in downtown Las Vegas, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Amid glitter, spandex and rainbow stripes, the city's gay and lesbian community and its supporters gathered downtown Friday for a night of partying and coming together for the Southern Nevada Association of Pride's 15th annual night parade.

Families, couples and friends flooded streets downtown to watch the dozen or so parades inch along 4th Street in what organizers described as one of the state's largest celebrations of sexual diversity.

A place to be yourself

Dawn Uri scooped up her blond, chubby-cheeked triplets and tucked them inside the plastic train she'd use to pull them along the bustling parade route.

As the tiniest members of the Bank of America float, the 2-year-olds wore red outfits to match the rest of the traveling pack, a group of employees at the bank's local branches.

"(The children) love it," Uri said. "There are so many colors."

They may not yet know it, but the Pride parade is especially meaningful for the tots, who were born through in-vitro fertilization to Uri, a gay mother who said she's grateful to work somewhere she is accepted and embraced for her differences.

"I like that the community gets together for this," Uri said. "We can be proud of who we are. You can be yourself."

• • •

Growing parade

Wearing sequined rainbow-stripe fedoras, Lorena Bahema and her partner watched the group of nude 20-somethings sprint past as they prepared to begin the route atop the Skin City float.

"Each year it gets bigger," Bahema said in Spanish, wincing as another float crawled by blaring dance music. "It hasn't even been going on that long."

Bahema, 40, an employee at Aria, said she's eager to show support for the event and the city's appreciation of the gay community. Having lived in Cuernavaca, Mexico, most of her life, she enjoys Nevada's openness and sexual diversity.

"The opportunities here are so many," she said in Spanish. "I want to support everyone here."

• • •

'Totally in my element'

"Get your leis here," Rick Graff shouted, seemingly to no one in the sparse edge of the parade route.

Having been to Chicago's gay parade, which draws significantly more revelers than the Las Vegas event, the trinket peddler was visibly disappointed with the crowd.

Carrying a backpack stuffed with his wares and a fist full of leis laced with flickering lights, Graff swayed as several parade-goers asked for a price and walked away.

"I'm not gay, but I feel totally in my element," Graff said. "I'm just a human being in a world full of human beings."

• • •

Always something going on

The Burning Man outfit was perfect for the occasion.

Sarah Jane Woodall, 36, was working out at a gym downtown and was on her way home when she scanned her Facebook feed and discovered that today, in fact, the city was holding a gay pride parade.

"I said, 'Oh, I have to get down there and crash the parade,'" Woodall said. "I put on my Burning Man outfit, made a drink and rode my bike down here."

Her face was coated in white paint, and dark red lipstick exaggerated her cupid's bow. Atop her head, a big, white, curly wig and glowing barrettes put together the look of a futuristic Marie Antoinette.

"Burning Man ended, so I thought, 'Man, I have to get back to the real world,'" Woodall said. "But there's always something going on."

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