12 Days Remaining

Sunday 9th
posted by Morning Star in Features

Links established in 1984 between mining communities and Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) are still strong, and the film Pride continues to inspire, as Dave Lewis of LGSM reports

Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) formed in London in July 1984 — four months into the year-long miners’ strike of 1984-85.

It started as a gathering of 11 people and steadily grew to an active membership of 60-plus. LGSM’s two-fold purpose was to raise money for the South Wales striking miners and their families and to take the miners’ case into the London lesbian and gay community.

Between July 1984 and March 1985 LGSM raised more than £22,000 from bucket collections and benefit events — 11 other LGSM groups sprang up in major cities across the country, including Manchester, Edinburgh, Leicester and Southampton.

The South Wales mining communities joined LGSM at the head of the 1985 London (Lesbian and Gay) Pride march, with their banners.
The NUM delegation to the 1985 Labour Party conference went on to support a motion calling for greater equality for lesbians and gay men.

Then the dust settled and the LGSM story was pretty much forgotten by all but those who were directly involved. Then in September 2014, the film Pride hit cinema screens, bringing the story to a whole new generation.

Pride is a touching comedy that tells the story of a seemingly unlikely alliance between a small group of lesbians and gay men in London and the mining communities of Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valleys. It is nostalgic, funny, occasionally heart-breaking and often inspiring.

LGSM reformed in October 2014 to respond to interest in their story and have been touring Britain and Europe ever since.

LGSM was the brainchild of Mark Ashton, a young Communist Party member living in London, but originally from Portrush in Northern Ireland. Mark, one of the central characters portrayed in the film, sadly died from the symptoms of HIV on February 11, 1987, aged just 26.

In May, 2017, LGSM unveiled a blue plaque dedicated to Mark’s life and legacy above Gay’s The Word bookshop in London’s Bloomsbury. The bookshop was hugely important to Mark personally, but LGSM also held its weekly meetings there in the winter of 1984, until it outgrew the available space.

A book telling the real LGSM story from the perspectives of many of the key protagonists in London and Wales at the time will be published by John Blake on August 10 2017.

And LGSM has become a regular fixture at the Durham Gala since 2015 and are here again this year, with our banners, T-shirts and merchandise stall.

We were delighted when the Durham Miners’ Association and many NUM lodge banners joined us on the 2015 Pride in London Parade, to mark the 30th anniversary of leading the 1985 march.

LGSM are also firm supporters of the Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign and provide a London presence on behalf of OTJC to keep up the pressure on government for a full and independent public inquiry into the vicious police attack on miners and their supporters at Orgreave in June 1984.

We send you our greetings for the 2017 Durham Miners’ Gala — the first since the sad loss of Davey Hopper. His spirit, courage, determination and legacy all live on and we will join you in celebrating is life at this year’s Gala. Solidarity Forever!