POLITICS

Talackova rides a wave of gratitude in Vancouver gay pride parade

08/05/2012 06:26 EDT | Updated 10/05/2012 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - Months after she took on the beauty pageant establishment, transgendered beauty queen Jenna Talackova helped lead Vancouver's annual gay pride parade Sunday.

The seemingly at-times-bashful Talackova was one of the parade marshals and rode atop a silver coloured BMW waving a rainbow feather boa over her head.

It was a scorcher as the parade wound through Vancouver streets in near 30 degree weather.

Talackova gained international attention for fighting for the right to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant after being kicked out because she was not born a woman.

Talackova has said she always felt like a woman and began taking hormone therapy at 14 years old, eventually having sexual reassignment surgery at age 19.

She accused the pageant of discriminating against her and pageant owner Donald Trump allowed her to compete.

She finished in the top 12 in the pageant and now said she considers herself an advocate for equal rights.

Earlier this summer pride parade organizers said they chose her as a grand marshal because of her struggle for the rights of transgendered people.

Vancouver Canucks' player Manny Malhotra also made good on his promise to be the first Vancouver Canuck to ever take part in the city's decades old pride parade.

Malhotra was at the parade in association with the You Can Play project, an effort to bring acceptance of gay people into the world of athletics.

The Mississauga, Ontario native said he joined the effort because he believes people should not feel they cannot play sports based on their sexual orientation, religion or race.

The city's annual parade draws around 600,000 people.