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Film review: Pride
How solidarity overcame prejudice
A new film Pride, released 12 September, dramatises the founding of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) and shows the London group's work during the 1984-85 miners' strike.
The London branch of LGSM carried out huge fundraising efforts to support the striking miners, raising around £20,000 for families of Welsh miners as well as making several visits to the communities they were supporting. A number of groups similar to LGSM sprang up across the country.
The film explores early on LGSM's struggles to become involved with the strike, with worries from the LGBT community itself. Characters discuss the homophobia they experienced in working class communities. But also the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) worried what having LGBT people visibly involved might mean in light of the abuse and scorn heaped on them by police, press and scabs.
However these difficulties begin to fade when the groups realise how similar their struggles really are. Pride rightly focusses on the role of the police and media in the strike and struggles of the LGBT community, opening with real footage of police attacking miners on the picket lines.
There is a strong focus on shared police repression. James Anderton, Manchester police's Chief Constable at the time described people with HIV-Aids as living in "a human cesspool of their own making" and called trade unions an "industrial mafia."
The Sun's headline 'perverts support the pits' is a key moment that as in real life leads to the single largest fundraising event LGSM is involved in.
While a comedic film, Pride also doesn't shy away from the difficulties shared by both communities during the eighties. Homophobia and the growing AIDS crisis loom throughout the film (and Mark Ashton, one of the founders of LGSM, died only a few years after the strike). The mining community became more desperate as miners could no longer pay for heating.
The film emphasises the importance of solidarity. Mark Ashton of LGSM said when discussing the group's work: "One community should give solidarity to another. It's really illogical to say: 'I'm gay and I'm into defending the gay community but I don't care about anything else.' "
It also shows the huge impact working class communities can have when they come together. Although the miners' strike was lost, we get to see miners attending Pride marches en masse to support the communities that supported them. The NUM played a vital role in the 1980s in forcing the Labour Party to commit to supporting the fight for LGBT rights.
Working together the LGBT community and trade unions made huge steps forward for equality. As the NUM rep says when first thanking LGSM for their fundraising: "when you're fighting an enemy so massive, to find out you have a friend you didn't even know you had; it's the best feeling in the world."
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