After viewing the movie Pride, we were instantly captivated by the incredible story of what happens when a combination of two social movements come together to fight for each other’s rights. It was a bit difficult to find unbiased and objective information on the LGSM movement, however thanks to the film’s release there have been many former members who have come forward to recall what truly occurred in London during the 1980s.The LGSM, or Lesbian and Gays Support The Miners, movement began with a collection of miners at the Gay Pride March in London during June of 1984. It was officially founded by Mark Ashton at the University of London Union and one of the spokespeople at the meeting included a speaker from the South Wales National Union of Mineworkers. Thus the alliance was forged. By the time January of 1985 rolled around, there were 11 LGSM groups across the country with London being the largest.
(Mark Ashton 1986)
As the movement began to grow, striking miners experienced police brutality in the form of roadblocks set up around local coal mines, as well as police stopping vehicles and questioning occupants about their destinations. Some were even searched while any paperwork inside was examined and confiscated, and these same drivers were usually grilled about which political party they voted for. Houses were raided on the premise that they might be harboring “flying pickets”, or people who were travelling from one mine to strike at another, and physical violence from the police was common and blatant. This injustice occurred during the Margaret Thatcher era of British politics when she was determined to make sure that any political oppression against her party was put down, and because she had confiscated the funds of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), any money donated directly to the group were inaccessible.
Which brings us back to the LGSM, a support group that decided to raise their own money to help out the miners so that these funds couldn’t be sequestered by the government. To do so, they held a fundraising event called “Pits and Perverts” in the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London. It was a concert that raised roughly £20,000 in today’s money for the striking miners and their families, a huge victory for both parties.
Unfortunately, Margaret Thatcher won out in the end and the strike overall concluded without a win for the miners. However it did forge important ties between the two communities that continued on for decades and created a turning point for the recognition of LGBT struggles and issues that were previously ignored. Starting during the LGSM movement and beyond, miners’ groups supported, endorsed, and participated in Gay Pride events. The most important being when NUM were outspoken allies of the LGBT campaign against Section 28, which was an attempt to ban any mention of homosexuality in schools.
Two groups both beaten down by the government partnered up to support one another for a common goal and that bond has continued on for several decades, paving the way for more secure rights and equality for future members of these organizations. So in a way, they lost a battle and won the war.