“I don’t mind taking more, Hefina. Not the lesbians so much, because of their cuisine, but I’ll take an extra gay.”
‘Pride’, directed by Matthew Warchus in 2014, is a British comedy drama that tells the story of the support given to Welsh miners by a group of lesbian and gay activists and their unlikely discovery of friendship and solidarity. It’s a bittersweet movie that does not shy away from either the injustice and violence inflicted on both communities, but also on the poverty caused by the strikes and on the fear and trauma caused by the outbreak of HIV. Warchus brilliantly evokes the time through the soundtrack and design, but it is really the performances that stand out here, from Ben Schnetzer as Mark Ashton, the driving force behind the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign to Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine and Imelda Staunton as the Welsh villagers who welcome them. Each character is drawn in such a way that no-one feels one-dimensional, and each is given a distinct story-arc. With such a cast it is a surprising how well it hold together as each crisis and triumph connects with the next. The key to the film are the revelations of similarities between the unions and Labour movement and the burgeoning LGBT rights groups. The villains of the piece are undeniably the invisible government authorities spearheaded by Thatcher (who appears only briefly in interview footage) and the police at both the picket lines and the Gay Pride marches. The separation between the protagonists and antagonists make this feel a rather cosy film, despite the quisling presence of a bigoted villager and the initial reluctance of some member of the LGBT community to engage. The best scene of the film, however, is one that takes place away from the action: when Bill Nighy’s character is helping Imelda Staunton’s to make sandwiches and reveals what turns out to be an undramatic truth about himself. This small scene ties the two communities together, and provides a timeless link between the past, present and future generations.
Would I recommend it? Yes – it’s funny, sad and essential viewing to anyone interested in 1980s political. Watch in a double bill with ‘Tongues Untied’, a documentary that similarly narrates the complexities between the struggles for civil rights by different communities.