New York Drag queens and dignitaries shared Fifth Avenue in the always-colorful annual Gay Pride parade known as much for its politics as its revelry.
Gays also marched Sunday in parades in San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and U.S. Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton marched in Sunday's event in New York, but Clinton's new Republican rival, Rep. Rick Lazio, chose to spend the day campaigning upstate instead.
Political victories were celebrated as activists pointed to passage of a hate-crimes bill in Albany and a Vermont law that allows civil unions between homosexuals.
"It's a tremendously significant year," said lesbian activist and former White House aide Virginia Appuzzo, one of the Heritage of Pride Parade's grand marshals. "The changes have been dazzling."
Supporters of Mrs. Clinton shouted "You look gorgeous" and "We love you" as the first lady joined the parade accompanied by state and local officials.
Mrs. Clinton marched 20 paces behind a man in a pink tutu and a Rollerblader wearing nothing but a thong. She gave the thumbs-up sign and clapped her hands to the disco music.
"This year, because of the hate crimes bill In New York and the civil union law in Vermont, it's a year we can look back on and say there's been some progress," she told reporters. "I'm pleased to be here on behalf of equal rights for gays and lesbians."
The parade, which commemorates the 1969 uprising at the Stonewall Inn credited with sparking the modern gay rights movement, was led by Stonewall veterans in drag riding behind a rainbow of balloons stretched across Fifth Avenue.
There were gay "Star Trek" fans, AIDS activists and church groups singing gospel music. There also were scattered protesters, including Joseph Garber of Brooklyn, who held a sign that said, "Sodomy is a crime."
In Chicago, thousands of revelers lined the streets of the city's North Side for the 31st annual Gay Pride parade.
The parade attracted more than 200 entries, including floats, bands and marchers representing local businesses and civic groups.
In San Francisco, what began in 1970 as a meager procession followed by a low-key "gay-in" at Golden Gate Park has become one of California's biggest events, and one of the world's best-known celebrations of gay pride.
The 30th annual Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Parade was to be followed by a seven-hour party at city hall.