This is my review of Pride [DVD] (2014).
Although I remember the bitterness and violence of the 1984 Miners’ Strike, the role of a gay and lesbian group in supporting them, and the miners’ act of gratitude in leading the 1985 Gay Pride march completely passed me by. This piece of recent history forms the dramatic background to the lives of ordinary individuals including a feisty young Irish gay who identifies with the miners’ cause when he sees them being vilified, and the catering student struggling to come to terms with the gayness he is concealing from his conventional family.
This uplifting film manages to be both funny about prejudice, using humour to debunk it, yet poignant in its coverage of the fear of AIDs and the grim awareness of the frequent shortness of a gay life in the 1980s. Scenes of a mining community under pressure in the breath-taking beauty of the Welsh valleys made me question the sense and morality of the rapid destruction of the coal industry in Britain. Reminders of worker solidarity made me think how skewed our values have become, as we privatise public sector services, cut the benefits of the poor to pay off deficits caused by feather-bedded bankers, and subject ourselves to the jargon of performance management and marketing.
The film is honest in showing the bickering and division, as gay men display a macho indifference to the lesbians’ demands for recognition, and the leaders of the pride march want to play down the political angle after the failure of the miners’ strike. A few characters are stereotypes and the rapid scene changes reduce some plot details to sound-bites which could make the situation hard to follow for those too young to have lived through the crisis. A few scenes fall short, such as the unlikely abortive assault on a miners’ social event by the two sons of the rampantly homophobic committee member,but the acting is mostly very convincing, with the added power of the music – one of the most moving scenes is when, starting with a lone voice, a roomful of miners’ families rise to their feet in their common knowledge of the song of solidarity, “Bread and Roses”. We must have bread, but we still need a few roses in life.