By a stroke of luck, we found ourselves in Vancouver this past weekend for the 33rd Annual Gay Pride Parade celebrations.
My first Canadian Pride Parade
Following the previous evening's Celebration of Light fireworks extravaganza, it was time to be dazzled by sequins, glitter and rainbow coloured gaiety.
Loved the rainbow treatment of the Canadian flag
Much longer than the West Hollywood Pride Parade I'm more familiar with, the route traveled along Robson Street to Denman, then down Beach Avenue to end at Sunset Beach.
Loud and Proud
Thousands of people lined the streets in the blazing Sunday sunshine and there was a real friendly atmosphere and encouragement from the crowds as the decorated floats and participants passed by.
At this year's West Hollywood Pride I bemoaned the lack of effort for the Parade floats and that really is one of the biggest differences between L.A.'s Parade and Vancouver's.
This really does feel more of a city celebration, maybe it's the fact it's over a holiday weekend contributing to the mood, but there seemed to be more of an effort made and it's a far larger Parade, lasting around two and quarter hours.
Mounties and police bagpipes march with the Parade
There's the same presence of police, fire and ambulance services, but they seem to embrace the Parade here and have a bit more fun with it.
Ambulance crew have fun with rainbow coloured drips
Vancouver's Pride Parade also seemed to be less about self promotion. There were politicians, but they seemed to make more of an effort and put on more of a show, rather than simply riding in a car and waving to the crowds.
Trojan's hot muscle guys entertain the crowds
In fact businesses seemed to put more thought into their floats, yes they were trying to promote their products and services, but at the same time they contributed to the spectacle of the event too.
Hot guys easy on the eye
Overall there seemed to be more of a sense of Pride and more of a celebration.
This cute girl in the crowd took the lion's share
of free candy, stickers and beads
It was more active, less passive, plus more inventive with decorations, themes and costumes
Has WEHO grown too jaded or is there too much local apathy?
The gay community still has real political reasons to march, as America still doesn't have Federal Civil Partnership rights or gay marriage yet, teenage kids are still being bullied and committing suicide, gays are still being treated with inequality.
However, there's also still a lot of reasons to celebrate who we are, from our community's diversity to simply being visible.
Letting our neighbours see we're no different from them (well maybe a little more fabulous), help questioning people know it's safe to come out of the closet and that they can be happy, have a wonderful life and be who they want to be.
Vancouver Pride seemed to be bigger and brighter, a few less drag queens and hot go-go boys by comparison, but more of an annual event that the entire city seemed to enjoy.
Be sure to check out the photos from this year's West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade to compare the two events and come back soon for more great images from Vancouver's annual Pride celebrations.
Be proud and gay every day...