WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- An 8-year-old city that owes its existence to the political clout of its population of homosexual men and women was the site of a 'Gay Pride' celebration Sunday.
Similar parades also were held in Washington, New York and Pittsburgh.
An estimated 125,000 people watched members of 206 organizations march along a 1.5-mile stretch of high-fashion Santa Monica Boulevard to a fair in a West Hollywood park.
The marchers ranged from the cross-dressing drag queens and musclemen to the less colorful but more-numerous marchers from political, religious, social and support groups.
Homosexuals who felt turned away by government and mainstream groups have been forced to create their own support structure but the proliferation of groups had resulted in a fragmented effort to aid the community, said Michael Yates, president of parade sponsor, Christopher Street West.
This year's parade theme, 'Together in Pride,' he said, 'symbolizes a new awareness in all of is that we are not and cannot be isolated in our own worlds.
'There is room for all,' Yates said, stressing the advancement of openly homosexual people in professions and politics. 'We all need to remember that there is a common thread that links us all together.'
In a significant departure from past policy opposing the recruitment of homosexuals, four homosexual Los Angeles police officers staffed a department information booth, handing out information on law enforcement careers.
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, which has policed West Hollywood since its incorporation in 1984, has had a long-standing policy of recruiting at the annual fair, said Sgt. Lynda Edmonds.
It was clear from the glossy 62-page souvenir program, listing local businesses and such corporate sponsors as Miller Brewing Co., Anheuser- Busch Co., and water bottler Sparkletts, that homosexual economic power is recognized.
It was equally clear from ads promoting body piercing, dollar-a- minute 900 area code telephone tease services and private spas at one extreme and AIDS hospices, volunteer groups and churches on the other, that the homosexual population is not a homogeneous one.
The two-day festival crowd, estimated at 360,000, was peppered with people proclaiming respect for individual sexual preferences -- including a man whose T-shirt read, 'I'm not gay, but my friend is.'
Hundreds of marchers turned out in Washington D.C. for the city's 16th annual Lesbian and Gay Pride Day complete with floats, marching bands and male flag twirlers.
'As we become increasingly visible, it's a little bit easier to be openly gay or lesbian,' said Adam Ebbin, a Pride Day spokesman.
'Our diversity is becoming more visible. This year there are more groups that are in some way seen a s not as typically gay as others,' he said.
Members of Pittsburgh's homosexual community Saturday paraded through downtown, the city's first since 1980.
One contrast from the parade: a male stripper and a female impersonator wearing a sequined evening gown waved from the sunroof of a white limousine while a man with AIDS traveled the route in his wheelchair.
Pittsburgh has an ordinance banning discrimnation against homosexuals but they say it still is not an easy place to live.
'Pittsburgh is a very conservative community and it makes being out very difficult,' said Jim Fauzio, 30.