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!"
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.)
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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.