Pride is a film from 2014 which tells the story of the British miners’ strike that occurred in the 1980s, and the pro-gay group “lesbians and gays support the miners” who aided them. In this text, I will look at what the movie can tell us about British society at the time.
The movie starts with Mark Ashton, played by Ben Schnetzer, watching a news report about the British miner’s strike. Realizing this is the reason police have recently stopped harassing gay activists, he decides to start a new group to raise money for the strikers. After all they’re facing the same hate and harassment that gays usually do. However, the small group of activists now called “lesbians and gays support the miners”, or LGTM, struggle with finding anyone willing to accept their donations, as they fear it would hurt the miners cause to be associated with a pro-gay group. Then there are also those who simply refuse out of sheer homophobia.
After some time, Ben decides that they travel to the miners of Onllwyn, Whales, and simply give the money directly to them. Even when they come, offering hundreds of pounds, most are still sceptical, or outright refuse to accept help from them, again, because they are gay. It is not before the miners actually get to interact with them on arrangements, they realize the gays are upstanding people. It is made clear that the miners also had unfounded notions about gays in general. For example, an elderly woman “heard from a friend” that gay people are vegans. In the movie the comment is the setup for a joke, but it says a lot about how little people actually associated themselves with gay people before making up their minds.
The miners quickly warm up to the members of LGSM. At least most of them do. A rather significant group led by Maureen, the films main antagonist, does everything in their power to avoid receiving donations, and discrediting the LGSM by informing a tabloid newspaper about them of the group’s existence. Meanwhile, Cliff, another resident of the town, confronts Maureen about her irrational thought process. There is a stark contrast between Cliff and Maureen. In Maureen we see a cognitive dissonance that can only arise from a lifetime of being told that gay people are not to be respected or deserving of equal rights as everyone else. Despite a gay group supporting her town when they are essentially fighting the state, she refuses to acknowledge that the members of the LGSM are good people. On the other hand, Cliff is completely open open to meeting them, showing no prejudice. One of his scenes where he confronts Maureen sums up what he stands for. He remarks that he doesn’t trust what the news says about the miners, so why should he trust what they say about the LGSM. Here, he clearly evaluated the situation; gay people support them, the news claims those same people to be bad, then the news are in the wrong.
To quickly sum up the rest of the film, the LGSM organizes a huge festival, embracing the tabloids calling them perverts. When Ben realizes that the best way of connecting to a grater part of the country is to embrace the insults coming from the tabloids, “Pits and Perverts” is organized, managing to raise thousands of pounds for the miners of Onllwyn.
It is not just from the outside of the group our main characters face opposition however. The movie quickly establishes that different members of the LGSM have different priorities when it comes to what issues the group ought to focus on. For example, of the members, Jaqui, decides that they should also have a focus on women’s rights, and quickly demands Ben to weave this into their plan. Ben objects, stating that it would distract from their original goal. In addition to disagreements on what the LGSM should represent, the idea to support the miners itself was completely absurd to some of the gay activists that took part in the parade at the beginning of the movie. One person’s experience with miners in the past as just a gang of homophobes, made him leave as soon as the LGSM was proposed.
In addition to making the film feel more realistic by reminding the audience that the characters have their own morals and priorities even though they’re all members of the LGSM, the wish for a larger focus on women’s rights coincide with Brittan’s general view on the topic. As the British library’s timeline shows, the 80s was the last decade with major reforms when it comes to women’s standing in society.
While the story of the miners and the gays supporting them is the main focus, Pride also touches on the issue of HIV/AIDS, which was a major point concern for many people. In the early 1980s it was thought that AIDS could only spread through gay sex. It wasn’t before January of 1983 that it reportedly spread through heterosexual intercourse. AIDS becomes especially important towards the end of the movie when we find out that Ben has the virus.
British library timeline of women’s rights
A timeline of HIV/AIDS