Shropshire Star

Rainbow flag fluttering over Shrewsbury's Shirehall marks the start of town's first Pride festival

It was an emotional moment for LGBTQ+ campaigners when the Rainbow Flag was raised to herald the start of a town's first ever Pride festival.

At Shirehall to mark the start of Shrewsbury Pride were, from left: Phil Davies, Lezley Picton, Jens Bakewell and Mark Barrow

A group of a dozen gathered at Shirehall, in Shrewsbury, for a ceremony on Friday to raise the flag in the sunshine.

"It was quite moving," said Phil Davies, who has organised the festival with Jens Bakewell. "The sun came out and the wind blew to make sure the flag was fluttering.

"It was lovely seeing all the support. It is a moment of history to see the first Pride festival in Shrewsbury and to see how the town has embraced it. It is wonderful."

The pride flag over Shrewsbury's Shirehall

The rainbow flag is an international symbol for Pride and can be seen flying proudly, during both the promising times and the difficult ones, all around the world.

Phil added: "We have over 40 performers, with 15 venues involved over two days brought together by one community."

He said that LGBTQ+ posts on social media still do attract distasteful comments but progress has been made.

"There is still more to do," he added.

The festival will be officially launched on Saturday lunchtime in the Square, before the weekend events start in earnest. Expect to see drag artists, local theatre groups, choirs, and spoken word.

The SAND organisation - Safe Ageing No Discrimination - will be out to show that LGBTQ+ people have always been a part of society but have not necessarily felt safe to announce themselves.

The Wave Exhibition, featuring photographic portraits of older members of the LGBTQ+ community waving at the camera, will run on the gallery at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury until mid-October.

The pride flag over Shrewsbury's Shirehall

The weekend has involved months of planning, building on LGBT+ History Month in February and Pride Month in June, when Ludlow Pride took place and various events were held in Shrewsbury.

It forms part of ongoing activity not only in Shrewsbury but also across the county to raise the visibility of and engage with the LGBTQ+ community in Shropshire.

Ongoing events include monthly LGBTQ+ family activity sessions at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery – which also runs exhibitions and events that mark historical and contemporary members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery will also host a monthly LGBTQ+ Family workshop.

LGBTQ+ interest books are available at all Shropshire libraries. These are available on the shelves or available on request from smaller branches.

There is also a dedicated LGBTQ+ interest section on the Library Service’s free e-book system.

Throughout October The Old Market Hall will be screening LGBTQ+ interest films.