Mayor Patricia De Lille (right) with Mr Gay SA Jason Lee Rogers. (Pic: David Lee)

Mayor Patricia De Lille has been applauded for showing her support for the city’s gay community by launching the annual Cape Town Pride parade on Saturday.

De Lille, accompanied by Mr. Gay South Africa Jason Lee Rogers – who was crowned in December last year – was on hand to cut the starting ribbon for the noon-day parade through the city streets.

Pride Festival Director Luiz Delaja said it was an “honour” and “a proud moment for Cape Town Pride 2013”. He told Mambaonline that having had the mayor take part “means greater visibility and shows the level of acceptance from the City. It affirms that we are part of the community”.

De Lille, who spent some time with organisers before the parade, also posed for the US-based NOH8 photographic campaign, which partnered with Cape Town Pride this year.

Organisers said that an estimated 6,000 people, accompanied by 20 floats and vehicles, took part in the march, under the 2013 theme of ‘stand up and be counted’.

“There was a lot of diversity in the marchers; from the leather guys to the gay church and organisations like [refugee rights group] Passop and the Pride Shelter,” said Delaja. “We wanted to push the diversity message this year and we achieved that.”

A number of participants held up placards demanding equal rights and denouncing hate crimes against LGBTI people.

One marcher held a poster that read “Men, speak out against rape”, while two smiling older women proclaimed “Proud Gogo” with their placards. Another sign asserted “Love is too beautiful to be in the closet”.

De Delaja thanked “all the marchers who came out in their numbers and made the parade possible and gave the community the visibility it deserves”.

He told Mambaonline: “People had fun. We got compliments in terms of the organisation of the event. The feedback we got was that it was better than previous prides.”

The parade was followed by a street party in Green Point’s ‘Gay Village’ district, which offered around 4,000 revellers bars, entertainment and various stalls.

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