The planned appearance of a venerable actor and a surprise visit by a Seattle international rap star were among highlights of the 2014 Seattle Pride Parade, drawing thousands to downtown Seattle on Sunday.
Celebrity Grand Marshal George Takei, best known for his work as “Star Trek’s” Hikara Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise, basked in the affection of the crowd that lined Fourth Avenue downtown for several hours.
In remarks before the parade, Takei, who is gay, congratulated Seattle and Washington state for progress on rights of gays and lesbians. He cited last year’s same-sex wedding of Mayor Ed Murray as “a fantabulous landmark in American political history.”
Some of the loudest cheers along the parade route were for Seattle-based rapper Macklemore, a supporter of gay and lesbian rights. His appearance had not been announced in advance.
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The mood was upbeat as the crowd welcomed local grand marshals Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine, the latter credited with signing the first same-sex-marriage licenses in Washington state.
Seattle’s new police chief, Kathleen O’Toole, participated in the parade, and some police officers posed for photos with members of the crowd.
More than one speaker contrasted the atmosphere at this march with the bold pioneering of the city’s first gay-pride march in 1974.
On Sunday, in a tense moment before the start of the parade, about a dozen people appeared carrying signs warning the crowd to repent and change their sinful ways.
After some brief shoving between the two sides in the street, the counter-demonstrators were allowed to pass, and police accompanied them from the parade route.
One of the parade emcees, a drag performer, said the appearance of the religious conservatives demonstrates why events such as the Pride Parade continue to be needed.
The nearly 200 entries in the parade included not just organizations formed specifically to support gays, lesbian and transgendered people, but many other sources of support such as health-care providers, labor unions, educational and civic groups, large employers and area businesses.
Jack Broom: email@example.com or 206-464-2222