Organisers have hailed Barnstaple’s first Pride March on Saturday as “a landmark moment in our local history.”

The first Barnstaple Gay Pride march. Picture: David Chalmers The first Barnstaple Gay Pride march. Picture: David Chalmers

In a first for North Devon Diversity Festival, dozens from the LGBT+ community and beyond flew the rainbow flag around the town’s streets.

Naomi Chunilal, the manager of North Devon Sunrise CIC which runs the festival, said: “It was a great success, lovely, vibrant and colourful with people from all walks of life celebrating LGBT+ equality and life.

“As the first time that the LGBT+ community in Barnstaple have stood up and marched in an assertion of their identity, that is quite a momentous step and impactful for me as well.”

Around 80 people from the local LGBT+ community and beyond walked through the High Street as the samba band thumped their drums with pride.

Participants gather for the first ever Gay Pride march in Barnstaple. Picture: contributed Participants gather for the first ever Gay Pride march in Barnstaple. Picture: contributed

Ms Chunilal added, “We were quite apprehensive before we didn’t know ow many people would show but it’s a really mark of the community to show that people really bothered and really made an effort.

“It was a great success, a landmark moment in our local history. It ignited the feeling that out of small acorns grow major oak trees.”

David Chalmers, chairman of North Devon Sunrise, said: “As a gay man I have been on many Pride Marches in this country and around the world, but it is always wonderful to see the delight on faces young and old at being able to walk down their high street openly as who they are and accepted by their family, friends and neighbours.

“It was a historic event which none of us who were there will ever forget, and I’m sure this now be a regular annual event on our town’s calendar.”

The first ever Gay Pride march in Barnstaple. Picture: contributed The first ever Gay Pride march in Barnstaple. Picture: contributed

The march was the latest addition to North Devon Diversity Festival, an annual explosion of colour and vibrancy to celebrate difference.

Thousands flocked to this year’s festival, which also included an ‘Around the World’ community voices project, seeing local people showcase their origins from Indonesia to Japan, and Mexico to Sri Lanka, through dance, food and costumes.

Encapsulating this year’s festival, Ms Chunilal said: “Ultimately the message of the festival is to take down hierarchies and for everyone to come together as equals, regardless of identity, status, and rank.

“We come together as human beings and celebrate each other, that’s the ultimate message.”

The first ever Gay Pride march in Barnstaple. Picture: contributed The first ever Gay Pride march in Barnstaple. Picture: contributed