View a photo slideshow of Gay Pride Festival 2011 here.
Hundreds of gay rights supporters marched through the streets of San José on Sunday to celebrate Gay Pride Festival 2011, one of a host of worldwide celebrations during gay pride month in June.
Marchers took part in a parade featuring musical acts and dances performed on a traveling stage mounted on the back of a truck. They waved signs and chanted slogans demanding tolerance and respect for sexual diversity, as pedestrians on the sidewalks and in shops looked on.
The parade started on Paseo Colón, passed San Juan de Dios Hospital to Avenida 2 and ended across from the Central Park with a flamboyant grand finale of transvestites performing dances, lip-synching and other shows on the traveling stage.
During the activity, singers María José Castillo and Eduardo Aguirre, locally famous for their participation in the reality TV singing competition “American Idol,” performed a variety of Latin American songs with themes of personal freedom and tolerance. Several drag queens performed choreography to the beat of Lady Gaga songs while interacting with spectators on the sidewalks.
“This event aims to tell the world that we celebrate our own nature,” said Geovanni Delgado, one of the event’s organizers. “It is a march for human rights and minorities who deserve a voice.”
Delgado said the event took two months to organize and was made possible thanks to support from several gay bars in the country, as well as from the San José Municipality and the Public Security Ministry, which provided at least 10 pairs of police officers to direct traffic and protect participants.
“This parade also aims to celebrate the recent approval of gay marriage in the state of New York,” Delgado said. “It’s an achievement for sexual diversity in the world and an important step in our ongoing struggle for tolerance.”
Various nongovernmental organizations joined the festival to express different messages. TransVida, an agency that seeks to improve quality of life for transsexuals living in at-risk situations, expressed through banners and chanted slogans messages of understanding for people with HIV and the importance of safe sex.
Another organization that joined the activity was Beso Diverso, which organizes protests in front of establishments that discriminate against gay consumers.
“I think this activity was very successful and am happy about the many people who came to support us,” said Beso Diverso member Paulina Torres. “Such initiatives make people lose fear of expressing their sexuality. I think in the next festival we should include a stronger political tone; we must support human rights on all fronts.”
For more photos from the event, go to www.ticotimes.net/Photo/Photo-Reports.