Hundreds of thousands of people crammed into downtown Vancouver Sunday for one of the city’s most colourful events -- the 34th annual Pride parade

Starting at the intersection of Robson and Bute streets at noon, parade participants walked on foot and rode 150 decorative floats down Denman Street before heading all the way to Beach Avenue and Jervis Street.

While its character and creativity drew delighted spectators, the event had some serious underlying issues to draw attention to as well.

"We live in a very progressive city in a progressive country. But certainly throughout the world there are so many countries where if you’re homosexual, or if you have different gender expression, or if you're a transsexual person or a trans person then you don't enjoy the same rights,” Vancouver Pride Society president Tim Richards said.

Transgender beauty queen Jenna Talackova grand marshalled the march. She made international headlines earlier this year when she was disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada pageant for being born male.

"I don't like labels and I don’t consider myself an advocate. I’m just, I'm proud of who I am. I'm proud of anybody that’s been through my situation, and I'm proud of anybody that embraces their individuality exactly like Pride does,” she said at the parade.

The issue of discrimination in sports was put front and centre with the appearance of Vancouver Canucks players Jason Garrison and Manny Malhotra.

The two showed their support for the You Can Play Project that is dedicated to ensuring equality for athletes regardless of their sexual orientation.

"You know I'm from here, the City of Vancouver. It’s a very Pride city, so I'm here to support the city and obviously the organization and the You Can Play Project,” Garrison said.

"We keep talking about sports being the last frontier that has to deal with homophobia, hopefully that'll be a thing of the past very soon,” Malhotra said.

Another sign of the growing acceptance for gay rights was the large number of major corporations like TD Bank, WestJet and Telus eager to show consumers they support the LGBT community.

Politicians were also out in force, with a massive contingent from the BC NDP that included leader Adrian Dix. The BC Liberals sent a single MLA and Green Party leader Elizabeth May also participated in the parade.

To vote for your favourite entries in the 2012 Vancouver Pride Parade visit

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Penny Daflos