Hundreds of people turned out in downtown Anchorage for the 40th annual Pride Fest.

Mo Haddock and Callene Monasmith set their lawn chairs up early to get a front for the parade.

“It’s a lot of fun. We like to people watch anyway but today is very fulfilling. Very heartwarming to see so many people out here,” Haddock said.

The two have been together eight years, married for four of them. They went to Seattle to tie the knot before gay marriage was legal in Alaska. Monasmith said being married provides benefits many straight couples take for granted.

“Social security, her veteran’s benefits. I get to use her health insurance policy, which is a big plus right now when we’re not sure what’s going to happen with the national healthcare plan. Since I’m on hers I don’t have to worry about that so that’s a big relief,” Monasmith said.

The pair said the city has come a long way in accepting the LGBT community, electing two openly gay men to the Anchorage Assembly.

“The overwhelming feeling is one of high emotion,” said assemblymen Chris Constant. “For a lot of us who don’t like to see what’s happening nationally in the political scene, we’ve made some progress locally in a way we never have before. So that’s an inspiration for a lot of people.”

But Haddock said the Alaska legislature’s rejection of Drew Phoenix, a transgender man, to the Human Rights Commission shows there’s still more work to be done.

“That was sad. That was a slap in the face,” she said.

Monasmith said bullying has become another big issue for the gay and lesbian community. When protestors showed up at the parade, a group of people dressed like angels drowned out the rhetoric with bucket drumming and cheering.

“We just want to live and have fun. We don’t want to hurt anyone. People aren’t trans just to piss people off. That’s just the way they are,” said Monasmith.

The couple said events like Pride bring people from all walks of life together so they can understand and celebrate their differences.