The 11th Exeter Pride, which turned the City rainbow-coloured on Saturday, May 11, has been hailed as the biggest and best yet.
More than 10,000 people showed their support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ+) communities in the region by taking part or attending.
Thousands of people took part in the march from the St Sidwell Centre, down Exeter High Street and along Queen Street into Northernhay Gardens.
It was the most colourful march yet, with two 50-metre rainbow flags carried by hundreds of volunteers.
The first-ever openly gay Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Rob Hannaford, lead the march with some of the volunteer trustees who run Exeter Pride.
The march also included Street Heat Samba Band, roller skaters, three fire engines, a rainbow-liveried ambulance, Great Western Morris dancers and musicians, police officers and a liveried police car, individuals and representatives from community groups and organisations.
Devon County Council had a gritter lorry which blew bubbles and played music in the march, and there was sparkling recycling vehicle from Devon Contract Waste.
Also taking part were tribal belly dancers, many people in colourful costumes, a large model of a dog and many businesses, trade union and political party groups and charities.
Many people dressed up for the occasion and there were certainly some colourful costumes with many people dressing up their canine friends to walk the route.
Many thousands of people lined the route to watch the march.
The Lord Mayor officially opened the main stage with an inspiring speech, receiving rounds of applause.
Alan Quick, co-founder of Exeter Pride, also told the audience why he was inspired to approach Intercom, the South West LGBT support organisation, to help start the annual event. He extended thanks to all those who had supported Exeter Pride since it held its very first Pride in 2009.
He said, “Without the support of previous trustees, volunteers, committee members, sponsors, partners and other supporters, and those currently involved, Exeter Pride would not have grown to what it is today.
“Year-on-year it has grown thanks to the active involvement of so many people.”
He appealed to those present to defend the rights achieved in the UK for LGBTQ+ people to-date and urged everyone to do all they could to campaign to help other LGBTQ+ people across the world.
He said, “In 72 countries it is illegal to have a same sex relationship, and in 45 the law is applied to women as well as men.
“The death penalty for any same sex relationship exists in eight countries.”
He continued, “I want you all to continue to campaign for LGBT rights. Each individual can make a difference.
“Write letters, support charities which do good works.
“Why not support your local pride, become a volunteer or a trustee, or become a sponsor if you are able?
“Remember, by doing good things, individually and collectively, we can all achieve results.”
Adam Rank, chairman, talked about the wide range of activities and events taking place during the afternoon and evening.
He said Exeter Pride was a key annual event in the city’s calendar and said that the 10th Exeter Pride had been judged Event of the Year in the latest Exeter Living Awards.
The main stage included appearances by Devon’s LGBT choir, Spectrum Choir; Alex Ambiguous-A, Rowena, That’ll Be The Day, Arina Fox, The Dillyboys, Baby G and Sound of the Sirens.
A Showcase stage included local talent acts with an array of performances including cabaret, comedy, drag performance, spoken word and acoustic music.
Many other events and activities took place at Exeter Phoenix, Exeter Library, Rougemont Gardens and RAMM, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
There was a marketplace with more than 80 stalls, a health zone, family zone, workshops, Gender Diversity Hub, a ceilidh, drumming and many other activities.
The Talk Zone included two panel debates in Exeter Library.
There was information from local, national and international organisations, demonstrations and fun activities.
The openly gay MP for Exeter Ben Bradshaw was among those who attended the event.
The Gandy Street Traders and Vaults Bar and Club also put on entertainment in Gandy Street in the form of music and a drag catwalk competition.
The celebrations continued into the evening at Exeter Phoenix.
Adam Rank, Chair of Exeter Pride, said that he was proud that Exeter Pride continued to be a grass roots community festival, while being one of the largest free Pride events in the UK, and without large scale public funding.
He said, “It was a superb community event, with a great atmosphere, and it was wonderful to have so many local businesses involved.”
He thanked all those involved in helping stage this year’s event.
Plans are already being made for the 12th Exeter Pride and anyone who wants to be involved is invited to get in touch by emailing: [email protected] .
You can also follow on Twitter: @exeterpride or Facebook: Facebook.com/exeterpride .
The news team for THEGAYUK. Got tips? Go to www.thegayuk.com/newsdesk to tell us something.
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