A lot of people will be pleasantly surprised by the film ‘Pride’. If you’re looking for a pick up from your end-of-summer-gloom then Pride will certainly inspire and spark that good, old warm feeling inside you. This film tells a story about an unlikely union across class and gender lines in a way that is lovely, heart-warming, painful and hilarious. You will feel emotional by the end and this is not a bad thing. The story is led by L.G.S.M – ‘lesbians and gays support the miners’- as they attempt to raise money for striking miners under Thatcher’s government and search for someone to accept their fundraising before finding a South Wales community. L.G.S.M joke among themselves about why people aren’t willing to accept their money- “try not to immediately sound like a puff when you call.” The film opens to London’s Gay Pride March of ’84 and we see leading figure Mark Ashton (played by Ben Schnetzer). Mark takes an impassioned position in the idea of supporting the miners who suffer similar abuse under Thatcher’s government as their own. Soon L.G.S.M end up in rural South Wales where they meet Dai (Paddy Considine), Cliff (Bill Nighy), Sian (Jessica Gunning) and Hefina (Imelda Staunton) to name a few main characters.
This film seems to have come with expert timing as the depressing eighties picture seen in the film relates directly to contemporary Britain under Conservative austerity. Human pride is the driving force behind each person’s political fight back then and in the present. It is what drives us to stand up for who we are and what we deserve. Mark Ashton invokes powerful emotions on this note when telling fellow L.G.S.M member Joe (George MacKay), whose parents haven’t reacted well to discovering he is gay, to ‘have some pride because life is too short’. Pride, in the positive sense of the word, seems to be in short supply in Britain, especially in recent years, with the media and its audiences blaming each other for the ‘state’ of Britain.
However a film like this can demonstrate that perceived fears about our differences are limited to a mentality rather than a reality once the two groups of people, L.G.S.M and the South Wales miners, have faced and accepted each other. Initially we see suspicion from both sides shown in several classically awkward scenes as they get their heads around the new situation. Many miners show disgust at the idea of needing such a group of people to help them. A local woman, Maureen (Lisa Palfrey) can’t bear the idea of being ‘backed up by perverts’ and is informed in a fast paced Welsh accent “to get that rod out of your arse for five minutes”. This eventually diffuses and becomes an array of fast friendship, pints, singing (Welsh songs of course), dance lessons and new experiences for all.
We see the hilarious reality of how messy and wonderful it can be when an unusual friendship occurs. This is important since often times of struggle can be romanticised or demonised within film and writing. In Pride miners and gays alike are shown to be just people- good and bad, sometimes happy and sometimes frustrated, dealing with daily life. Mark Ashton, leader of L.G.S.M is told by leading miner ‘Dai’ to remember that there is more to life than ‘the fight’. Of course, the film is indeed including many of the classic feel- good components found in contemporary British comedy but who doesn’t love that necessary amount of British branded wit and humour. The film connects to genuine human realities of the time whilst remembering to keep it light in the right moments. The great lumps of nostalgia which come with watching this period of social history is huge, not just because of the Tye-dye denim and Billy Bragg music but especially for those who remember raising money for the miners themselves, the police brutality and being shocked by the HIV scare which runs as a side story throughout the film.
In the end we are left with a vision of solidarity. Hundreds of South-Wales miners return their support by attending London’s gay pride march of ’85. We are also left with the amazement that this reality actually happened. That despite the stereotyping infused to society, the press attitude at the time towards gays and the ‘macho’ position in society that Welsh miners were expected to uphold we see a putting aside of differences and a friendship which goes on to mutually support each other. The lasting changes into the present world which were enforced by the labour party because of South-Wales miners’ support at the time are reflected now in UK law on gay marriage. Whether you live hundreds of miles away from Wales and have never met a gay person in your life this film sends a message of hope from the past, connecting straight to your humanity and telling you to stand up for who you are, no matter who you are.