Activists ‘don’t want to become a re-enactment club’
THE LEGENDARY Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners will exit stage left from frontline campaigning after a roller coaster year on picket lines, protests and the silver screen.
Members of the group which inspired miners’ strike film Pride announced yesterday that they are winding down activity after a recent renaissance.
Founded in 1984, LGSM’s was thrust into the spotlight last year after its story of solidarity with Welsh miners was told in the Bafta-winning film.
But in the week the last deep coalmine in Britain is due to be shut, cofounder Mike Jackson said the group did not want to become a left-wing “re-enactment group.”
“The welcome we have been given over the last year has been moving, inspirational, and humbling,” he said.
“But we feel that it would be wrong to campaign day-to-day on the basis of our youthful activity.”
LGSM’s new-found fame saw them deluged with invitations to address dozens of high-profile events across Britain.
Since re-forming in October 2014, they have lit up the Durham Miners’ Gala, Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival and London Pride.
And the group were still campaigning for the miners this week.
They joined Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign treasurer Chris Peace and legal adviser Mike Mccolgan at the Home Office to hand over a legal submission for an inquiry into brutal policing tactics at the infamous Battle of Orgreave during the great strike.
Reflecting on the 1984-85 strike yesterday, Mr Jackson said: “There were vicious anti-union attacks, police given ever greater powers to clamp down on protest, and hostility towards minorities.”
Original LGSM members will hold a farewell celebration tomorrow with comrades from the Onllwyn mining community they first met 30 years ago.
Former Labour MP Sian James, who was portrayed by Jessica Gunning in Pride, paid tribute to the “respect, love and a shared experience” that the group provided during the strike.
She said: “We realised that the things which made us the same were far more important than those things which divided us.
“That is the true legacy of our shared history.”
The group is to close its Facebook page at the end of the month, although there are plans for an online archive of historic documents on the group’s website.
And in an individual capacity, Mr Jackson vowed: “LGSM members will carry on taking the fight to the Tories and the rich elite in any way we can.”
• More details of the online archive can be found at www.lgsm.org.
DAI DONOVAN, South Wales striking miner and NUM official:
“Meeting LGSM was a significant event in the miners’ strike of 1984-85. I was gratified that lesbians and gay men, who were attacked and vilified on a daily basis, would set aside their problems to help us. It was an incredible act of kindness and solidarity.
“They could so easily have left the miners to discover what they had known for a very long, painful, time — that the state through its police force and the press is merciless when it decides to attack you.
“LGSM’s selflessness deserves to be remembered whenever the history of the LGBT community and the working class is discussed. That struck me 30 years’ ago and will always be in my memory.
“Many more people know about the strike now, thanks to the film Pride. This story shows what can be achieved when people under attack come together without seeking anything in return.”