THE streets of Richmond Hill were transformed into spectacular colours, sparkles and feathers as the proudly gay community marched for their rights at the weekend.
Police blocked off the streets and ambulances followed the crowd of about 400 people, all marching for equal rights and acceptance.
The parade kicked off in Stanley Street, Richmond Hill, on Saturday morning, and ended at St George’s Park cricket stadium in the afternoon, where a post-parade festival with music, dancing and food kept the crowd of about 1000 going until the early hours of yesterday morning.
The aim of the Nelson Mandela Bay Pride 2012, hosted in Port Elizabeth for the second time, was to create awareness and promote tolerance of different sexual orientations.
Among the crowd was Mr Gay South Africa, Lance Weyer, the newly crowned Queen of Pride, Jacques “Cooky Looky” Claassens, and Mr and Miss Aqua, Mark Olwagen and Keisha. Aqua is a popular gay nightclub in North End.
Club owner Stefan Barnard said the event was well organised and everyone who attended the festivities had a blast.
Cooky Looky, dressed in a sparkly, bright red outfit, led the marchers through the streets of Richmond Hill and deservedly stole the limelight.
The organiser of Queen of Pride, which was held last Saturday, Terry “Tiger” Victor, described the weekend event as a roaring success.
Victor said he looked forward to the years to come when the festival would get bigger and better.
Weyer, who is the reigning Mr Gay SA, and the runner-up in Mr Gay World, said it was great to see men and women who were not necessarily gay among the crowd of marchers.
“Their support was much appreciated,” said Weyer, who is also a DA councillor in East London.
“I think PE is doing really well, particularly for the Eastern Cape, and I am certain this event will make a difference in promoting acceptance. It won’t happen overnight, but through projects such as this the public is being educated.”
New Afroteens, 2Firece, Little Poof, Will Jensen and Danie Prinsloo provided the entertainment, while DJs D-Viant, from the UK, Groovy-Q, Richard Saunders and Bok rocked the stage until the early hours of yesterday morning.
Half of the money raised will go to Tru Colors, an organisation that offers school programmes dealing with awareness of sexual orientation and gender issues.
The remainder will be used to organise NMB Pride 2013.
It is not clear how much money was raised at the weekend.
Eastern Cape Gay and Lesbian Association chairman David Hessey said he was extremely proud of the welcome the gay community received from the Friendly City.
Hessey had set up a stall to educate and provide counselling to youngsters confused about their sexual orientation.
“We are still in the early stages, so there were a couple of hiccups on Saturday, but I am confident that we will improve in the years to come,” Hessey said.