Review by Dave White – Incedo Community Worker
According to one reviewer the movie contains 36 obscenities (including many “f” and “h” words and some “s” words), 10 strong profanities using Jesus, 12 light profanities such as OMG, several uses of “bloody,” and one person says, “So help me, God!”. Some would say this movie is nothing but communist propaganda with a grubby homosexual agenda to pollute moral sensibilities. Hmmmmmmmmmm, if you can withstand such orientations and dialogue and general 8o’s ness then here is a feel real good movie, worth a view for there is some top shelf material to be contemplated and celebrated amongst the profanity. And the Smiths and Bronski Beat are on the soundtrack! You know you want to…sp help me God I think you should see it. It’s a new release at your local dvd shop….
Pride is based on a true story of two opposite communities coming together to reunite against the background to the UK miners strike and the common enemy of Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980’s. I’ve seen PRIDE three times now and howled like a baby. Am I too soft? I think we need more Mark Ashton’s in our world. RIP.
Here’s my thoughts…
1. One person, Mark Ashton, saw oppression and thought they should and could do something. And didn’t let that inspiration be distracted or denied its growth into activism. In summary of the movie – acts of oppression by Thatcher’s polices and police towards hungry strikers got hooked up (unlikely but lucky) with empathy and gave birth to solidarity and hope.
2. The Lesbians Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) group sought to serve another group – the marginalised miners. They didn’t seek to ignore them, destroy them or exploit them. They just wanted to serve and to support them. Jesus at his big moment of ‘remember me’ at Easter chooses to be remembered in one regard. How was it? As a miracle worker? As a healer? As a teacher? The man with the party tricks? No he wishes to be remembered as a servant and begins to serve by washing his disciples feet.
3. They serve – even their enemies. Some of the gay characters see miners as bully boys and don’t choose to engage with such a community seeing them as undeserving. Others of LGSM put aside their fears to connect with what could be considered people unfriendly/antagonistic towards homosexuals. One character of LGSM works through personal history and resentment and starts a journey where he gains some reconciliation with his estranged mother. Christ taught to not only love your friends but to love your enemies. ie. get over yourselves to save your selves. I guess Welsh enemies count too. LGSM, they were called perverts. Often. Their book shop ‘labeled’ then vandalised. They chose not to fight their enemies. They complimented abuse with a ‘have a good day’ (weeeell there was a small call of retaliatory ‘bastards’ at one point but no call to arms ). Generally, they turned the other cheek and owned the pervert label to progress a major fundraiser’s marketing. They seemed above the persecution given them. Why? They had the loyal support of their own crew, they knew who they were, and they had a higher cause that allowed them perspective in terms of the abuse.
4. They serve still – when some would have argued they should be fighting their own fight – the age of HIV and their own tribe falling. But still they choose to serve others.
5. The main leader of the LGSM group, Mark Ashton, leads with the remnant. He sees injustice and calls it for what it is. He is able to acknowledge his own suffering and is empathetic. He rallies together others with a call to action. And accepts and works with the few that choose to remain – actions that support his beliefs. Christ too saw few stay with the vision of the new kingdom and the inherent suffering and cost it implied. But pressed on anyhow.
Lisa Power, a member of LGSM remembers Ashton as a ” firecracker of a human being”. “He was completely irrepressible, incredibly committed and extremely uncompromising. He was one of the most vibrant, alive people that I knew.”
6. The gay group that begins to fundraise is an eclectic group. One, then three lesbians join the group. A cynical older gay pride man is part of the group reluctantly. A newly coming out homosexual is included. An inclusive group. all that was required seemingly was loyalty to the cause and loyalty to others. They accepted each other, where they were at, and encouraged each other. At one point the group feared for their lives in the mining town, but agreed to remain until the project of support was completed. Later in the movie they were happy to tour the London clubs with their geriatric mining friends.
7. They made it personal. With the funds that they raised they could have sent a letter. They could have made a deposit into a bank. They could have made a telephone call. But they chose to make it personal. They made the long journey in a clapped out van. They chose to engage the humanity of the miners by being present. And the harder option was risky with no guarantees. He tangata, he tangata he tangata….
8. They didn’t give up when they were initially blocked from the usual mining unions receiving their generosity. They thought creatively to strategise another way. And they weren’t prepared to be anonymous and disrespect their own journey of justice for queers.
9. Dai, the leader of the mining group, when first engaging the group said what was more important than the money, was the thought that somebody gave a damn. When we care we shouldn’t underestimate the power of being in solidarity with another. The flag of the mining union had two hands shaking. Individualism, solitude, loneliness is undermined when virtues of community, engagement and solidarity are extended. An sometimes what we think is the important central thing isn’t really the central result in the end – the miners, as it turned out, were impacted more by the thought of people caring than the money sent. 1
10. The engagement of the gay group with the miners came with long-term relationship. They continued to care by being present. Making the journey. Spending time. Sleeping on couches. They each allowed each other to observe who they were authentically and vulnerably. This relationship allowed them to fully share the abundant life – abundant dancing, abundant cultural experience, abundant pain shared, abundant fear, abundant disco joy, abundant breadth of humanity. Each group through engagement gave hope and legitimacy to each other’s being. And each was made better for it….
11. The mining village experienced a transformation. They experienced the rewards of hospitality. Over time they opened their hearts and homes to the LGSM. Some of the villagers welcomed the person ‘not the pervert’ without judgment of the gays moral code. Albeit uncomfortably. The local miners were rewarded too with hope, with city knowledge of police illegalities, and how to dance. The interaction became an exchange. Sadly, one villager chose a response of fear and self-righteous judgment coupled with anxiety regards the union movement reputation instead of welcoming the Londoners. We always have the same choices to pursue doctrinal correctness or beliefs over the genuine manakitanga of the person that followers of Christ are encouraged to aspire to.
12. The little bit of biblical yeast that stretches like yoga …The serving of the community of miners by the gay community had an unexpected outcome. While this is not necessarily a given, an act of kindness was a pebble in a pond that had ripples way beyond the initial act. The Labour party had a unanimous block vote, by an unexpected voice – all the miners union voted for the?? That allowed for the first time the gay rights act to be passed. The actions of a handful of gay activists changed the worldview of hard line miners unions to vote in their favour. The bet is that they voted positively because their prejudices were overthrown through the meeting of minds and deconstruction of stereotypes.
Miners’ labour groups began to support and endorse and participate in various gay pride events throughout the UK; at the 1985 Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, a resolution committing the party to support LGBT equality rights passed for the first time due to block voting support from the National Union of Mineworkers; and miners’ groups were among the most outspoken allies of the LGBT community in the 1988 campaign against section 88.
VIVA LGSM!!!! A handful of gays from London change the world. Unions even. Even Bono would struggle…..who’d have thought??????
PRIDE the movie, moves. It moves from comfort to risk. From disco to welsh ballad. From fear to faith. God’s dream for humanity played out in compassion for one another. Finally, in Teilhard de Chardin’s words:
“We are not human beings trying to become spiritual; we are already spiritual beings, and we are just trying and needing to become human for another”