When asked to be co-grand marshal of the Los Angeles Gay Pride celebrations this Sunday in West Hollywood, celebutante Paris Hilton answered with her trademark, "That's hot."
But some gay activists are offended that the 24-year-old heiress and her mother, Kathy Hilton, have been chosen as figureheads for an event themed "How Do You Wear Your Pride?"
"The first thing that pops into my mind is, are there no gay people that could possibly grand marshal our own parade?" columnist Charles Karel Bouley II wrote on Advocate.com, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender news website.
The heterosexual mother-and-daughter team will greet tens of thousands of people as co-grand marshals of the Los Angeles Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade on Santa Monica Boulevard on Sunday. The heiress is star of Fox's reality TV show "The Simple Life," while her mother is star of the new NBC reality program, "I Want to Be a Hilton."
Rodney Scott, president of Christopher Street West, a gay rights outreach program producing the pride celebrations in West Hollywood, pointed out that in years past the parade has featured other heterosexual grand marshals who are popular within the gay community, including '80s rocker Cyndi Lauper, actress Jennifer Tilly and comedian Kathy Griffin.
Scott defended the organization's decision to honor the Hiltons.
"Kathy and Paris were brought forward by members of our community," he said. "Here's a mother and daughter that want to lend their voice to issues -- like gay marriage, adoption and hate crimes -- that face our community."
He added: "Their response was very enthusiastic -- and appropriately stunned that they would be included."
A spokesman said Paris Hilton, who lives in West Hollywood, was flying in from Miami for the parade.
"She has an enormous number of gay and lesbian friends and is very supportive," said the publicist, Rob Shuter. "She's excited to do it. Paris believes in equality for everybody."