Love, inclusivity and diversity paints Shrewsbury rainbow for its first-ever Pride
With the rain came hundreds of rainbows, as Shrewsbury's streets were flooded with colour for the town's first-ever Pride weekend.
Shrewsbury town centre was alive with a celebration of love, inclusivity and diversity as its inaugural Pride celebration opened on Saturday.
The historic occasion proved emotional for organisers and the hundreds of revellers, who came together amid late September showers to celebrate love in all of its forms.
The weekend, which will see dozens of events fill 15 venues across the town, was organised by Phil Davies and Jens Bakewell.
"It's a long time coming," co-organiser, Phil, said, "we're not about division or creating opposition, it's about bringing people together.
"Thinking about how it started, we thought we would have 50 or 100 people. But now, we have around 40 different events happening across 15 different venues over two days bringing together one community.
"I don't think any of us in our wildest dreams imagined that we would be here - turning the whole town into a rainbow. It's incredible, it's really quite overwhelming."
For many of those who gathered, the event meant more than a day of celebration.
Jens explained: "On a personal level, I'm 45, and when I was a young person there wasn't any information about gender diversity or sexuality.
"Maybe there were some gay people, but that was very far away from the village that I grew up in. It was a very difficult time and a very lonely time.
"This is about wanting to make a world where young people can grow up knowing that how they experience their bodies, their sexuality, and their identity is absolutely valid and okay.
"Otherwise, things become shrouded in fear and shame and many people develop psychological issues because of that. Being able to embrace your identity and to be able to live authentically as who you are in the world is really important to me."
Phil, at 48, spoke of how much having a Pride celebration would have meant to their younger self, having grown up during the time of Section 28 and the AIDS epidemic.
Section 28 was a designation for a series of laws that prohibited the "promotion of homosexuality" by local authorities, causing many organisations such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student support groups to close or limit their services.
It was in place in England and Wales from 1988 to 2003.
Phil said: "I was at school and university during Section 28 - the 'don't say gay' campaign - and growing up during the AIDS epidemic which was called the 'gay plague' - there's always been that kind of ingrained sense that there was some different or unusual.
"Today is about saying that there's nothing unusual about it, it's nothing new. It is wonderful. We are who we are. Love, at the end of the day, is love."
For many who came to celebrate the weekend's opening, it was their first ever Pride - including Derren Willow, 19, from Shrewsbury.
She said: "I think it's important to have a Pride celebration in your hometown. It's nice, it shows that we're here, and there's a presence of us, and we're not going away."
It was also the first Pride celebration for Jamie Graham, 24, from Telford.
He said: "It's something I've always wanted to do, we're finally here - and it's great. It's important for everywhere to show pride, everywhere has their own community and pride in that community.
"It's important to come together to celebrate our history and what it means to be LGBT and to increase awareness."
The event was opened at 11am by Shrewsbury's mayor, Becky Wall, who joined organisers Phil and Jens in welcoming revellers.
The parade, sponsored by Full Fibre set off at 12, with singing, dancing, music and drums paving the way for the hundreds of members of the LGBTQ+ community, friends, families and allies to walk through the town.