This week, the rainbow flag can be seen flying proudly above the Civic Hall in the historic market town of Totnes in Devon.
In June of this year, Totnes Town Council voted to raise the rainbow flag, as a sign of solidarity and support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex &/or asexual+ (LGBTQIA+) community of Totnes and beyond.
The flag raising ceremony which one onlooker said was “moving and heartwarming” was followed by Totnes’ first LGBTQIA+ History Walk led by local Writer, Historian and Publisher Bob Mann.
News of the event, comes just two months after Abingdon Council voted against the motion to fly the flag from the town’s county hall next June in support of Oxford Pride.
Proud2Be co-founder Mat Price said: “We are thrilled that the rainbow flag is flying in Totnes and are grateful to the Town Council for its support. We urge all councils in the UK who have voted against similar proposals, to reconsider their position and show that they are truly committed to nurturing and celebrating diversity in their area.”
The ceremony marks the start of the Towns’ fourth ever Pride celebration, which takes place this Saturday 3rd September.
Totnes-based social enterprise, Proud2Be is laying on a whole host of events, which will bring the LGBTQIA+ community together with their friends, families and supporters, to celebrate diversity in the town.
This year’s special guests include Helen Belcher, who is one of the founders of Trans Media Watch and campaigns on equal marriage, trans healthcare and gender recognition reform.
About her involvement in this year’s event Helen said: “I’m really proud to have been invited to speak at Totnes Pride, and am looking forward to a fine day with fine people in one of Devon’s finest towns.”
Helen will be joined by Holly Greenberry and Dawn Vago, Co-Founders & Co Directors of IntersexUK and #5 on Independent on Sunday’s Rainbow List 2015.
Last year’s guest activist Jacq Applebee said about the event: “I encourage anyone who can to go! It’s one of the most inclusive LGBT events I’ve ever known”.
The day kicks off at 11am outside The Dartmouth Inn, where there will be opening speeches from Helen, Proud2Be founders Jon & Mat Price and Totnes Mayor Eleanor Cohen who together with award winning Samba ROC Band, will then lead a procession up Fore Street and High Street to Totnes Civic Hall at 11.30am. The road closure will be in place between 10.30am – 1pm at Ticklemore Street and from the bottom of Fore Street up to where the High Street meets Castle Street.
This year, Proud2Be have teamed up with local charity ROC Creative to create a ten-foot tall puppet to lead this year’s Totnes Pride Procession.
Community bus service Bob the Bus, will be running a park and ride service from 10am at King Edward VI Community College (KEVICC) and will also be transporting those with mobility issues up the procession at 11.15.
It is at the Civic Hall from midday, where visitors can enjoy, workshops and talks, community stands, Dot’s Cafe, a youth space and a variety of family friendly activities including art and craft, scrap modelling, face painting and much more.
There will be a panel discussion from 1.45pm at Totnes Cinema, where local and national activists will discuss how divisions can be broken down within the LGBTQIA+ community.
The fun continues into the evening at Totnes Pride After Party from 7.00pm at Totnes Civic Hall, which will feature live music from popular Disco Funk band Golddust, P?nk (UK’s No.1 tribute to P!nk) and DJ sets from Madame Souza & Rhi Rhythm.
Due to a successful Big Lottery bid, for the first time, entry to the daytime events are free. Tickets to the After Party are £10.00 (18 and over only) and are available to purchase online and at Totnes Pride day event.
Totnes Mayor, Eleanor Cohen, who will open the event said: “As Mayor, I welcome this event and look forward to seeing an exciting and vibrant celebration of difference and unity, all equal in our social mix.”
Proud2Be began in June 2011, when founders, Jon & Mat Price, recorded a short video explaining how they are both “proud to be gay”.
Since then a number of public figures have contributed to the Proud2Be Campaign, including Christine Burns MBE, Andrew Solomon, Stephen Fry, Peter Tatchell and Michael Cashman CBE.
Proud2Be also facilitates various groups & events, runs a youth project, delivers training & provides various volunteer opportunities.
Following a successful pilot in 2014, Proud2Be are currently campaigning to install Europe’s first permanent rainbow crossing in Totnes. The campaign has received widespread local support including an endorsement from Alan Salt, the Principal from Totnes’ King Edward VI Community College, who said: “It will help remind us all that as a community we value diversity.”
About this year’s event, Proud2Be co-founder Jon said:
“We are so excited about this year’s Pride; we have been working hard to ensure that Totnes Pride is a community event we can all be proud of. We are thrilled with the support we have received from the local community. For us Totnes Pride is a chance for the whole community to come together and celebrate diversity in our town. Everyone is welcome!”
Proud2Be are also encouraging local businesses and residents to show their support by displaying rainbow flags during the week of Pride. These are available to buy from Proud2Be.