THERE has been no shortage of tributes, celebrations, memorials and nostalgia this year to mark the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike, not least in the LGBT community.
The strike itself, and the story of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) which grew out of it, was one that lead to the trade union and Labour Party support of LGBT rights that continues till this day.
Plays like Pits & Perverts by Michael Kerrigan beautifully show what life was like both for the miners and their families — reduced to living below the breadline and facing attacks from all sides — and the LGBT community.
The latter were persistently persecuted in their own neighbourhoods and vilified by the government and the press.
Where this play stands out is that it takes you into the homes and the lives of those involved, providing a real sense of the daily struggles against prejudice and eventually the solidarity that was the true ethos of the time.
It follows the lives of Sean and Gene and as they welcome two miners, David and Rhys, into their home and lives and how they seek only acceptance in return.
The touching details of Sean’s coming out and having to flee his home are still a reality for many young LGBT people today and that’s reflected in the courageous script and Conor Maguire’s portrayal of the character.
Gene’s friend Candida (Orla Mullan) brings a very familiar taste of how a government’s actions can infiltrate the minds of the many, something the minority communities have felt over recent years.
Pits & Perverts tells a story that is historical and educational but it also reflects current realities in a way that many can recognise and relate to.
The overarching message of the play, underlined by director Pat Byrne, is the power of community. The clashes of lifestyles show that while on the surface we may appear like oil and water, when barriers break down and people really communicate with one another, then we are not so different.
We all have something that we can offer one another.
Runs at the Lyric Theatre Belfast until October 11, details lyrictheatre.co.uk