On Sunday evening we went to see Pride, a film based on the true story of a group of gay men and lesbians in London and the people of a mining village in South Wales who they supported during the miner’s strike of 1984/5. It’s absolutely brilliant!
The film resonated particularly for me. I was working abroad during the strike and arrived home in ’85 just after it was all over. The London gay scene, portrayed very accurately from my memory, was much the same as the one that I started to investigate as I came out. In addition my father was originally from a Welsh mining village and my aunt, uncle, cousins etc. all spoke with that accent.
The rights and wrongs of the strike itself are side-stepped. The issue is about the way that the people suffered as a result and bullying tactics of the government and police. A group of lesbians and gay men decided to support the miners, driven by their shared experience. To quote: “Who hates the miners? Thatcher. Who else? The police, the public, and the tabloid press. The only problem we’ve got that they haven’t is Mary Whitehouse, and that can only be a matter of time.” It was a time when gay men were dying of AIDS (and let me remind you that the Government only started paying attention when they realised that straight people could get it) and sex between men was illegal before age 21.
What comes out of the film is the importance of compassion and recognising the humanity of others. Of course the clash of cultures is spectacular, the resulting humour is spot on and the audience on Sunday were laughing hard.
The closing section of the film tells a little of how the lives of those portrayed went from there. It makes the point that as a result of the support the miners received the National Union of Mineworkers put their weight behind a Labour Party conference motion to recognise the equal rights of gay and lesbian people. A motion which had been proposed before, but had failed to gain support.
I heartily recommend it.