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Madrid high heels run defies gravity, homophobia

Dozens of men and a few women in stilettos raced through the center of Madrid on Thursday, despite attempts by the far-right party Vox to curtail the event
Image: Madrid high heels run
Participants run during a high-heel race as part of Gay Pride month in the neighborhood of Chueca in Madrid on July 4, 2019.Gabriel Bouys / AFP - Getty Images

MADRID — Dozens of men and a few women in stiletto heels raced through the center of the Spanish capital on Thursday, defying gravity, the heat and attempts by the far-right party Vox to curtail their Gay Pride celebrations this year.

The race in Chueca, a gay-friendly neighborhood in central Madrid, draws competitors from abroad and is one of the most eagerly awaited parts of the annual festival of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The race attracts the young and old, the athletic and the portly. Reaching the finish line is no easy task: Rules state that heels must be at least 4 inches high, and the shoes are measured before the race.

Madrid Pride, one of the world’s largest LGBTQ celebrations, will culminate in a parade in the city center on Saturday.

The ultra-conservative Vox, a political newcomer that won about 10 percent of the vote in April's national election and recently enabled the center-right to take over the Madrid city hall, has increasingly attacked the festival and LGBTQ rights in Spain.

Vox wants to move the Pride Parade from the city center to a park in the suburbs.

Vox's Madrid regional branch head, Rocio Monasterio, told La Contra TV on Tuesday the celebrations "denigrate people's dignity."

"When a mother, a father step outside there is no reason for them to stumble into this spectacle ... involving explicit sexual acts in the street at daytime".

During the high heels run, there were chants against Vox.

Javier Garcia, a 23-year-old nurse, wants the race to stay in Madrid's center to keep it visible.

"People still have to fight and make visible certain inequalities that are still not fully resolved," he said before taking part in the race.

Garcia said he felt nervous because it was his first time running in Madrid's event, although he had participated in a similar one in the Canary Islands.

The race winner gets 350 euros ($390).