There were a thousand little reasons to cheer -- or laugh or cry -- at the first Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade this past Saturday. To name a few: A sweet-faced elderly couple carried a sign that read "George and Peter. Together 65 years." Then there was the tight-bodied pack of beautiful women in bikinis gyrating to house music on a giant papier-mâché cheeseburger float. Not to mention the appearance from Miami Beach City Commissioner Victor Diaz, who openly snuggled with a windswept blond fellow wearing an "I Love Miami Beach" T-shirt.
But Riptide is a member of the media, and thus a bit of a jerk. So our favorite moment came when a conflict arose amid all of the hugs and good vibes. Allow us to explain why: Around 2 p.m. -- amid a crowd of 20,000 happy GLBT folks -- one brave bigot busted out a bullhorn and sign that read, "Fear God." The portly, goateed homophobe stood in the middle of the street and chanted, "You can choose not to be a homo! God hates fags!"
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Needless to say, he was outnumbered, and it could have gotten nasty. But instead of throwing punches (or, more likely, frozen blue rum drinks), onlookers tried something else. First, a cute lesbian couple stood directly in front of him and began a defiant, two-minute kiss. Cameramen and tourists cheered and seemed to forget about his sign. Other couples followed suit -- mostly sweaty, shirtless gay men -- smooching in protest. After a few minutes, a Miami Beach cop ushered the chubby protester to the side, where people mostly pointed and laughed at him. (Score: gays, 1; homophobes, 0.)
Overall, the event was quieter and tamer than expected. Still, it was a solid first run. We're guessing the parade will gain momentum next year. And that Mr. Burn In Hell will stay home -- with only his bullhorn and repressed homoerotic fantasies to keep him company.