Hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians marched in a number of cities Sunday on the 20th anniversary of the 'Stonewall Inn' incident in New York that sparked the modern-day gay rights movement.
Some 250,000 marched in San Francisco and 15,000 in New York. Gay pride festivities were organized in other cities nationwide -- including a suburban Los Angeles parade drawing 200,000 people -- to commemorate the June 25, 1969, riot by homosexuals at a New York City gay bar called the 'Stonewall Inn.'
San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos, along with Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer, both D-Calif., rode floats alongside AIDS workers and victims in the parade through the Castro district, the city's gay area.
As always, leather-clad 'Dykes on Bikes,' a group of lesbian bikers, led the way down Market Street, lined on both sides by cheering crowds -- a mix of homosexual activists, their supporters, residents, tourists and the curious.
Agnos last year became the first San Francisco mayor to officially participate in the parade. He recently signed into law a landmark ordinance giving longtime homosexual partners many of the same rights as heterosexuals married to city employees.
Sunday's parade included, for the first time, a contingent of surviving partners of people who died from AIDS.
In New York City, the parade down Fifth Avenue featured colorful floats, drum and bugle corps and outrageous costumes with only a minimum of provocation to anti-gays stationed along the route.
It was in stark contrast to a stormy confrontation between gays and police in Greenwich Village Saturday night.
About 500 people attending a Gay Pride Weekend rally in Sheridan Park spilled out into the street and pelted a nearby police precinct house with rocks when officers tried to bar their progress.
The demonstrators tried unsuccessfully to enter the station house in a melee that caused injury to two people, authorities said. Police rebuffed the protestors and there were no arrests.
During Sunday's parade, about two dozen anti-gay demonstrators were kept behind police barricades opposite St. Patricks' Cathedral, the usual focal point of opposition activity because of the Roman Catholic Church's stand on homosexuality. The cathedral itself was cordoned off to pedestrians.
At 2:30 p.m. the marchers halted and observed a minute of silence in memory of AIDS victims.
In the Los Angeles suburb of West Hollywood, a huge crowd lined Santa Monica Boulevard for a similar parade launched with the release of thousands of pink balloons. It culminated a weekend of gay pride festivities in the small city with a high homosexual population.
In addition to the parade of 300 floats, bands, vintage cars and celebrities, the weekend festivities featured fireworks Saturday night and a variety of performances, foods and crafts.
A sheriff's deputy said the estimated crowd of 200,000 was the largest in the 19-year history of the parade.
A handful of fundamentalist anti-homosexual protesters harangued parade participants and the crowd to repent. They were met by a larger group of the AIDS activist group ACT UP LA who kissed and embraced in front of the fundamentalists.
ACT UP LA demonstrators also staged a protest against conservative Los Angeles County Supervisor Peter Schabarum and Sheriff Sherman Block, who were accused of being hostile to homosexuals.
Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley rode in the parade and said the parade was a tribute to the open-minded and accepting people of Southern California.