by Martin Caforio
[Pride (2014), directed by Matthew Warchus and written by Stephen Beresford]
Pride tells the story of a group of young activists, who, during their march in the 1984 London Gay Pride parade, decide to form the group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners strikes that shook the country that same year. They notice that the police harassment and political vitriol habitually aimed at their own community is now being turned on mine workers, notably in South Wales. In the Welsh town Onllwyn, they meet the (first) miner’s spokesperson who is receptive to their alliance, and who accepts the money LGSM have raised and invites them to Wales. On this, and subsequent trips to Onllwyn and London, an unlikely friendship is born between LGSM and many members of the small Welsh community, who, despite one of its homophobic committee member’s attempts to disrupt their activities, continue to support the miners’ cause.
The main characters, either in their drive for justice and solidarity or wonderful quirkiness, are all incredibly lovable. The relationship between the out-and-proud activist-leader of the group, Mark Ashton, and the closeted, shy but driven and passionate Joe Cooper is occasionally poignant, and it is through this that Joe is able to fully embrace himself. The scenes in Onllwyn, where a community set in its ways begins to open up to LGSM - thanks to the power of pints and disco - and the realisation that there is more which brings them together than separates them, are as wonderfully uplifting as they are hard to watch, as we are aware that not everyone accepts the group, who they are, or their help. The film can perhaps be criticised for focusing more on the personal than the systemic, with only brief mentions of the broader context of the miner’s struggle, homophobia, or the ongoing AIDS epidemic and its impact, but I argue that this did not come to the detriment of the film. It is purposively human story, that makes you believe in the compassion and solidarity of man, makes you want to jump up, grab a sign on the picket line or a banner at Pride, organise events with LGSM, and fight for a cause you believe in. The end of the film is emotional, and it is the final scene, where the film-makers add a series of descriptions, that the viewer realises not only the basis of truth in this film, but also the real and beautiful relationship that the LGBT+ activists and miners’ unions had in subsequent years as they continued their struggles, together. I highly recommend this film, which had me in tears as much as it had me laughing, and was genuinely a touching story.