Totnes saw its first Pride event at the weekend, with over 800 people coming from all over Devon & Cornwall, to celebrate the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) community.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was guest of honour at the event, where he made a moving speech and took part in the live panel debate which addressed the need for more to be done in schools to ensure that ‘children grow up without the prejudices of the past.’
Peter said: “I was very proud to be a part of Totnes Pride. It was a great success, with a wonderful community atmosphere and double the numbers expected.
“Thanks to the Mayor and all the councillors who participated. I hope they’ll find ways to build on this success, with practical support for the local LGBT community. In particular, I urge the council to help challenge all prejudice by introducing Equality & Diversity lessons in local schools. Totnes without prejudice!”
Peter was joined by other leading LGBT figures including openly-gay deputy headteacher Shaun Dellenty and Elly Barnes, who topped the Independent newspaper’s Pink List, the rundown of the 250 most influential people in the LGBT community. Elly said “It is brilliant to be part of a progressive and trailblazing day!”
The day continued with more talks, forums, community art projects, workshops and a whole host of indoor community stalls. There was a children’s craft area, clay workshop room and a Wizard of Oz themed café serving much needed refreshments to attendees who could relax whilst reading through a host of LGBT literature.
The day-long event was followed by an after-party, held at South Devon Arts Centre which was a sell-out triumph.Party-goers enjoyed a mix of local and national acts that came to support the day.
Guests the Sound of the Sirens said: ‘What an amazing night we had at the first ever Totnes Pride after-party, we were so pleased to be part of such a great event.’
Due to the success of the spectacular evening event, Proud2Be are teaming up with South Devon Arts Centre to hold a monthly LGBT party, which will feature some of the best local bands, national tribute acts and Totnes-based resident DJ Madame Souza.
Tickets to the Proud2Be Party are £10 in advance and available from the South Devon Arts Box Office on 0844 888 0435 or online at www.southdevonarts.co.uk
Totnes-based Proud2Be was launched two years when gay identical twin brothers, Mat and Jon Price sat in front of their web cam and recorded a short video. In the video they explained how they are both proud to be gay.
“In truth we had been ashamed to be gay before that moment,” said Mat. “After years of messages from our school, church, the media and certain members of our family, that being gay was wrong, we had internalised those messages and started to believe them. Our mission is to encourage and support all LGBT people to be proud of who they are.”
Since its launch, Proud2Be has grown hugely and now holds monthly get togethers and other events across Totnes. The twins host their own LGBT radio show which can be on http://www.soundartradio.org.uk/ and are even planning on opening the first rural LGBT community centre in Devon, next year.
The organisation has also received the backing of some famous names among the LGBT community including Stephen Fry, Ian Mckellen, bestselling and award winning authors Sarah Waters & Andrew Solomon and Michael Cashman MEP who said “I am happy to support such an inspiring LGBT organisation led by a dynamic duo!”
“Totnes Pride was a wonderful day for Totnes and South devon,” said Jon.
“For us Totnes Pride was not only an opportunity for our community to get together and be proud but to also raise awareness and help educate the wider community.
“The success of the event has sent a clear message to LGBT people all over the country, that Totnes embraces us and celebrates our difference. We are so proud to be living here in Totnes.”
“We are overwhelmed with all the lovely feedback we have had already and would like to thank our committee and volunteers for their outstanding contribution. Together we have all worked tirelessly to ensure that Proud2Be Totnes Pride is an event we can all be extremely proud of”
“We would like to thank Peter Tatchell, Elly Barnes, Shaun Dellenty, Bristol’s Sing Out choir and Pruw Boswell for making our first pride event so special. We would also like to thank our generous partners, funders and sponsors who helped make the event possible, including, Big Lottery Fund, Soundart Radio, South Devon Arts Centre, Devon & Cornwall Police, Totnes Civic Hall, Hobbycraft, Travis Perkins, The Big Beautiful Bunting Company, Potclays Ltd, South Devon College, The Terrace Coffee Shop, Blue Geranium, The Barrel House, Tangerine Tree Café and Greenlife.”
(from a press release – images courtesy of Beccy Strong and Didge Dowley)