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LGBTQ+ History Month 2023: Behind the Lens

Posted: February 13 2023

Brunel University London

As part of LGBTQ+ history month, staff and students are providing film recommendations with an LGBTQ+ theme. Here Mike Thomas talks about the 2014 film Pride, written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus.

Based on a true story, the film brings together two important aspects of British social history in the mid-1980s: the miners’ strike of 1984-5 and the struggle for LGBTQ+ inclusion at the height of the HIV-AIDS pandemic. This is a funny, moving film with a great ensemble cast that includes Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy.

The key narrative of the film is the development of allyship between a group of LGBTQ+ activists in London and a mining community in South Wales. The LGBTQ+ group’s efforts to support the mining community are initially met with suspicion and hostility, but gradually two groups come to trust each other and learn about the separate but linked struggles they are facing. Both groups benefit from working together: the LGBTQ+ activists provide much needed material and moral support, and the miners’ and other trade unions begin to lobby for the adoption of LGBTQ+ inclusive policies, many of which we now take for granted.

The themes explored in Pride still have strong resonance. The ways in which trans people are being marginalised and demonised in politics and social media remind me of the 1980s when I was a teenager growing up in South Wales, trying to make sense of my sexuality in a particularly homophobic environment. And of course, many of us are currently taking part in strike action in higher education and other key public service to protect our rights and working conditions. In 2023, the themes of allyship and social justice explored in Pride seem more relevant than ever.