By Jim Gladstone
As most of the rest of the country’s Pride festivals faded into summer memories, Las Vegas Pride 2014 roared to life like an MGM lion last weekend. MGM Resorts International—a major sponsor of the city’s annual festivites, represented by an enormous float and hundreds of employees marching Friday night’s parade—invited PASSPORT to check out the celebration.
Here’s the skinny: Where many big cities’ pride parades have become heartfelt but snooze-inducing hours-long affairs, Las Vegas’ is tighter, brighter, and far more eccentrically entertaining—a nighttime blast of day-glo color under streetlights and spotlights in old downtown.
The off-Strip location allows the participants to be the stars, and gives the whole affair a tight-knit community feeling, rather than a sense of being yet another glitzy tourist attraction. There’s a genuine enthusiasm among the participants, onlookers, and grandstand commentators.
The parade began with a sincere memorial statement and moment of silence for Joan Rivers, long a Vegas headliner and LGBT supporter. Some of the loudest cheers of the evening were for the Prime Timers, an older men’s social group, who drag queen and local activist Norma Lee Aman introduced to the crowd as “people whose efforts for so many years are what made an event like this possible.” And the entire parade came to a tear jerking halt when a marcher dropped to one knee to propose to her girlfriend.
Held each year on the weekend following Labor Day, when room rates are at a late summer lull, Las Vegas Pride makes for a terrific swan song to the season. So plan ahead for 2015.
Check out our Las Vegas Pride slideshow after the jump….