The 1984 British coal miners’ strike was one of the most high-profile ideological struggles of the Thatcher era. At the same time the gay liberation movement was making political headway, but the community was also in the beginning stages of being ravaged by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Pride tells the (mostly) true story of how these two communities forged one of the most unlikely political alliances imaginable.
Young idealist, Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) prodded his friends and acquaintances to form Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) to raise money to help the striking miners. The macho, laddish culture of the mining community meant that the much-needed support wasn’t welcome, and the unions turned down LGSM’s contributions fearing bad publicity. Undeterred, LGSM circumvented the unions and went straight to the town of Onllwyn, a small mining village in Wales. There was unease and mistrust on both sides, and out and out bigotry from some of the miners. Patience, stubbornness and disco dancing helped to bridge the gap, and the fragile bonds of friendship between LGSM and the miners hardened into a powerful political alliance.
Pride faces difficult, wrenching issues with humor, but it never makes light of them. The weight of what is at stake is always at the forefront — the miners will starve without the help of support groups like LGSM; lesbians and gays were very much second-class citizens; police brutality against both groups was widespread and unabashed. The courage and strength it took to face down these odds is admirable, and Pride manages to show us the quiet heroism without becoming schmaltzy. But the film packs an emotional wallop and the ending will gouge a tear from even the most cynical hearts. (Seriously. If you don’t cry, you might be a psychopath.) Pride is a wonderful film, an important film that reminds us ordinary people can and do change the world for the better.