'Biggest and best' Exeter Pride as thousands flock to city celebrations
PUBLISHED: 11:01 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:01 17 May 2018
Alan Quick, co-founder of Exeter Pride, reports on the 2018 celebrations
Exeter Pride celebrations, which turned the city rainbow-coloured, have been hailed as the biggest and best yet.
More than 7,000 people showed their support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) communities in the region by taking part or attending Saturday’s event.
Marking its tenth year, 1000s of people took part in the march from the St Sidwell Community 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 march also included Street Heat Samba Band, roller skaters, a fire engine, an ambulance, Morris dancers, police officers, and representatives from community groups and organisations.
Devon County Council’s road grit lorry took part in the parade, blowing bubbles and playing music, and there was a privately-owned bus in the parade for those who were unable to walk the route.
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.
The Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Lesley Robson, led the march with the volunteer trustees who run Exeter Pride.
Earlier in the day she attended a Pride Church Service and blessing at St Michael’s Church.
Many thousands of people lined the route to watch the march.
When it arrived at Northernhay Gardens, the Lord Mayor welcomed everyone and wished them “Happy Pride”.
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.
“It really has helped Exeter Pride to fulfill its aims, to promote equality and diversity for the public benefit and in particular the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity through awareness-raising, advancing community education, and by holding an annual LGBTQ festival.
“Whilst we are celebrating this year, we are keen to recognise and to educate on themes of LGBTQ history, LGBTQ contributions to culture, and awareness of on-going LGBTQ struggles in the UK and further afield.”
Adam Rank, chairman, talked about the wide range of activities and events taking place during the afternoon and evening and about other events which Exeter Pride had helped to organise.
He said Exeter Pride was one of the South West’s biggest celebrations of the LGBTQ+ communities, and one of the biggest free Pride events in the country.
He said it was a key annual event in the city’s calendar.
The main stage included appearances by Devon’s LGBT choir, Spectrum Choir; “X-Factor” star Freddy Parker; celebrity Lauren Harries; and live bands The Dilly Boys, Oh My God! It’s the Church! and The Ferrantes.
A Showcase stage included local talent acts with an array of performances including cabaret, comedy, drag performance, spoken word and acoustic music.
Other events and activities took place at Exeter Phoenix, Exeter Library and Rougemont Gardens.
There was a marketplace, with more than 80 stalls, a health zone, family zone, workshops, film screenings, trans workshops, a ceilidh, drumming and many other activities.
The Talk Zone included two panel debates in Exeter Library. The main debate discussed Bi Visibility and the Youth debate led by X-Plore discussed The Gender Spectrum.
There was information from local, national and international organisations, demonstrations and fun activities.
The Gandy Street Traders 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.
The following day a “chill out” was held at Exeter Phoenix.
Adam Rank, chair of Exeter Pride, said: “There was a real celebration feel this year.
“Being our 10th anniversary, it was the perfect time to consider how far we have come since Exeter Pride began.
“It was a superb community event, with a great atmosphere, and it was wonderful to have so many local businesses involved.
“They will continue to be involved for the rest of the year, as the discounts from our annual wristbands run straight through until next year!”
He thanked all those involved in helping stage this year’s event.
Plans are already being made for the 11th Exeter Pride and anyone who wants to be involved is invited to get in touch by emailing: [email protected] .
For further details visit the website: www.exeterpride.co.uk . You can also follow on Twitter: @exeterpride or Facebook: Facebook.com/exeterpride