DUE to the daily changing national landscape caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, and upon Government and Public Health England advice, Exeter Pride trustees are postponing the May event “to ensure the continued health and well-being of everyone in the community”.
Originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 2, trustees are now exploring the new date of Saturday, September 26, subject to approval from authorities.
Simon Bowkett, chair of Exeter Pride said: “We have been following government and health advice closely, but now that the government has moved to the ‘delay phase’ of the outbreak, and signalled that there should be no mass gatherings, we cannot justify risking any compromise to the health of our community.
“Even if the government and health authorities were content for Exeter Pride to go ahead as planned, we are first and foremost about inclusion – and the fact that many of our disabled, older and immuno-compromised people may feel safest to stay away would mean the event would have been poorer.
“We hope to be back in September or October as a healthy, inclusive, proud and unashamed community ready to celebrate coming through this adversity.”
Exeter Pride committee met on Wednesday, March 18, where alternative dates were discussed and how activities can be transferred online in the interim.
Trustees said they were aware that other local prides such as Exmouth, Totnes and Cornwall already have their events confirmed in the Pride Calendar, so wanted to ensure there is no clash with them (or other important community events), hence the new provisional date of September 26 being under consideration.
Simon continued: “Moving forward, with regards to keeping our LGBTQ+ community together, we are developing an online plan that will keep Exeter Pride very much at centre stage until normal service resumes.
“It will be an exciting hub for everyone who comes to our events, a place where everyone can come to, engage in and still feel very much part of our wonderful Pride family.”
He added: “Our 2020 campaign #Unashamed is already proving to be a great success, and this temporary change of plan will provide everyone with the opportunity to really get behind it and use what it stands for as a tool to keep us all together during this incredibly difficult and challenging time.”
Exeter Pride said it will be contacting all businesses, sponsors, community organisations, artists and stakeholders who are invested in the original date, and will support everyone to remain engaged throughout the coming months.
Trustees said that they recognise that the current situation is fast-developing, and will keep events under review as it supports the LGBTQ+ community.
Simon concluded: “Most importantly, please look after yourselves and each other by taking the time to find out from validated and credible sources what you need to do to keep safe and well.
“Although everyone is now being advised to adhere to social distancing to protect our physical health, our mental health is important too, so we all must, and can still, remain connected and together.
“The Exeter Pride family is a strong, supportive community and safe space, and until it is possible to resume normal activities, we, the Committee and trustees, will do everything we can to keep it that way.”