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Long Beach, California, was awash with vibrant colours and joyful spirits as the city hosted its much-anticipated annual Pride Parade on Sunday.

Now in its 40th year, the event celebrated not only the LGBTQ+ community but also the enduring strength of the nonprofit organisation that initiated the celebration from a small grass routes operation to one of the largest Pride Parades across the globe.

The parade route along Ocean Boulevard, stretching from Lindero Avenue to Alamitos Avenue, was lined with thousands of spectators and participants, both local and from across the Southland. They came together to wave the iconic rainbow and Pride Progress flags, and the air was filled with laughter, cheers, and the spirit of unity as colourful floats, classic cars, and decked-out party buses danced by.

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Among the participants was Diana Ahumada of Cheer Los Angeles, who emphasised the importance of the Parade in the face of increasing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. “The more people out here, loud and proud, the more we are saying we are here to stay. We just want human rights just like everybody else,” she explained to Press Telegraph.

The day’s festivities began with a Pride-themed run by the Shoreline Front Runners of Long Beach, followed by various performances and communal gatherings at Parade Central. The lively atmosphere and sunny weather marked a stark contrast to the area’s first Pride Parade in 1984, which was marred by hostility and arrests.

Frank Hanzel, a PFLAG Manhattan Beach/South Bay board member, encapsulated the day’s spirit, saying, “It’s our way of saying, we see you, and we celebrate you.”

The event’s legacy was reflected upon by Bob Crow, the last living founder of Long Beach Pride, who noted the initial struggles with the city and how the Parade had evolved into one of the city’s largest annual events.

While the Parade is a celebration, the event also served as a reminder of the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ visibility and equality. Sister Bearonce Knows of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, pointed out the remaining challenges, saying, “Visibility is powerful.”

For many, like the married couple Ashley and Stephanie Berger-Rivera, who brought their daughter to her first Pride, the event was more than a celebration—it was a lesson in love, acceptance, and the freedom to be oneself.

“Being here, it shows her that love is welcome here,” Stephanie Berger-Rivera said about her daughter, “that she is accepted, and she could be whoever she wants to be.”

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