Democratic politicians poured onto the streets of downtown Friday to march in the annual Las Vegas Pride Night Parade, with more than 200 volunteers and supporters of presidential candidates joining dozens of floats.
Gov. Steve Sisolak became the first sitting governor in Nevada history to march in the parade, joined by his wife, Kathy, and Sen. Jacky Rosen as part of the Human Rights Campaign’s contingent.
“As governor, I’ve fought for the protections that our LGBTQ community deserves, and I’ll continue to work alongside our partners to build on the progress that we made this year,” Sisolak said before the march.
The small army of campaign volunteers and employees were piled onto Gass Avenue like a friendly but competitive herd of cattle as they waited to take their spots in the parade. Each group chanted in turn for their respective candidates while holding signs and banners decorated with rainbow coloring and neon lights.
Several well-known surrogates led their respective groups: Chasten Buttigieg, husband of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Jill Biden, wife of former Vice President Joe Biden; Douglas Emhoff, husband of Sen. Kamala Harris of California; and Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, brother of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.
Buttigieg, Biden and Emhoff joined Sisolak and Rep. Dina Titus in cutting the ribbon to officially start the parade.
“(LGBTQ rights) have been first and foremost for Kamala for 30 years — her entire career,” Emhoff said shortly before the parade began.
Harris’ camp included Long Beach, California, Mayor Robert Garcia and California state Sen. Toni Atkins, both of whom are part of the LGBTQ community and said they were hoping to spread the message of Harris’ longstanding support of LGBTQ issues with their neighbors in Nevada.
But by far the largest political contingent showed up for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the only candidate to appear in person for Pride Night. Her entourage included a marching band and color guard.
The senator arrived shortly after the parade got underway and was immediately swarmed by her followers. She danced and marched along with her two guests, drag artist Shea Couleé and Antonio Ochoa, a Las Vegas man who won a contest held by Warren’s campaign.
While some of the politicians rode in cars, Warren walked the route behind a truck bearing her slogans and at the head of her procession of about 100 supporters.
Marching with Warren
Ochoa, 23, was at work when he learned he had won Warren’s contest, which he said rendered him speechless. He is supporting Warren in the Democratic primary.
“She stands for so many causes that are really important to me and my family and so many people I care about,” Ochoa said as he waited in the Mandalay Bay lobby for a quick meeting with Warren late in the afternoon. “Tackling the student debt crisis, combating climate change, equal rights for LGBTQ Americans — those are just really important issues to me, and she’s shown time and time again that she’s willing to fight for those causes.”
For Ochoa, it was important Warren was showing her support publicly for the local LGBTQ community.
“It’s not something you would have seen a politician do 10 or 15 years ago,” said Ochoa, who identifies as gay.
Ochoa met Warren briefly in a hotel room, where he immediately began thanking the candidate for her work on his key issues.
“We’re going to do this together,” Warren said several times as she fielded Ochoa’s praise.
Their conversation touched on climate change, their experiences as the first members of their respective families to graduate from college, costume ideas for their dogs and attire options for Pride.
During a more serious exchange, Ochoa told Warren that he would like to start a family, but he’s concerned the Earth may not be safe enough because of the effects of climate change.
Warren nodded along, saying climate change was the biggest issue the country faces. Ochoa told her it needed to be addressed soon, and she agreed.
“We’re running out of runway,” Warren said.