‘Pride’ matters now more than ever

The world of mainstream cinema has many blind spots, some accidental and some not at all. The history of the LGBTQ community and the history of organized labor are two of the most obvious.Films that are considered good on these subjects either come from earlier movements in film history, such as Derek Jarman or Barbara Copple, or discuss them in more experimental/underground films that are great but lack the same exposure as big-budget films. These days, when we see these things on screen, they’re either a tepid, cleaned-up series of events, or they tend to focus on judging a particular person rather than broader themes or masses sports. It’s even rare that the two sports intersect. Unity is not something we see very often, not just in movies. pride, directed by Matthew Vauxwritten by Stephen Beresfordand starring Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, and Imelda StauntonEtc. shows the power of unity through the film in a way that no other film of this era has. As today is Pride Month, as the film industry and labor at large begin to flex their collective power, pride It’s the best movie to watch right now.

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‘Pride’ explores concept of togetherness

In the movie

First, what exactly is unity? This movie introduces the concept well in several ways. First, the film opens with the excellent union song “United Forever” by Pete Seeger, which reads: “There is no greater force under the sun than when the inspiration of the union flows through the blood of the worker and yet what power there is on earth is weaker than the puny power of one man, but united makes us strong.” Unity is being united with those who share your interests. In the case of organized labor, this is the organization of workers who produce value which in turn is exploited, united against bosses who do not work but reap huge profits from their labour.in the case of pride However, this is slightly different. London’s queer community and Welsh miners don’t seem to have real common interests.

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The movie dismisses that idea right away, via Mark Ashton. Ben Schnetzer. Ashton was a real life gay rights activist and organizer who founded Gay and Lesbian Support Miners (LGSM) in 1984, which raised funds for striking miners in Wales during the 1984 miners’ strike. The strike, sparked by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s proposed closure of the mines, threatened thousands of jobs and many towns and cities that depended on the mines for their livelihoods. The reason Ashton gives for why people should pay miners is very simple. One, the coal they mine empowers everyone, their work makes society possible, so we should support them. More importantly, however, Ashton pointed out that the police have recently slowed down their harassment of gay people, gay bars, etc., because they are all focused on stopping the miners’ strike and arrested many striking miners without pay. There is no reason other than to suppress the strike. This strike, like the queer community, is being actively suppressed by the UK government, and in order to move forward, they must act together, for the betterment of all.

Paddy Considine as Day talks to a group of gays and lesbians who support miners' pride.
Image via BBC Films

This doesn’t happen like magic. As mentioned, these are two groups of people who seem to have nothing in common. One group hails from a vibrant queer community in London and the other hails from a more old-fashioned, quieter mining town in Wales. Especially in 1984, with the rising incidence of AIDS, many people in the mining community didn’t have much in common and held a lot of paranoid views.Day, one of the leaders of the strike, at Paddy Constant, acknowledging the difference, but went on to say, “When you’re battling an enemy far stronger than you are, it’s the best feeling in the world to find out you have a friend you never knew you had.” By the time those barriers are broken down, when we see these people actually talking to each other, and their perception of the group as a whole isn’t defined by what they’ve been told throughout their lives, we see that they actually do have a lot in common point, and they do get along really well. Opinions on both sides softened, and a strong bond was formed as LGSM raised significant funds to support the miner’s cause.

However, the story doesn’t give us a happy ending, at least not the whole story. Despite the huge donations, some in the town still harbored a hatred for LGSM and leaked the matter to the media. After the story became public, the union at large voted to no longer accept their money, although a majority of the town still supported the strike. A few months later, the strike is broken, the miners return to work for nothing, and our characters disperse heartbroken. The disruption of this strike, and the one that Ronald Reagan terminated in the United States, essentially broke the back of the labor movement in both countries. It’s not clear what any of them are supposed to do. To fail at something so important, and to be rejected for who you are when you just want to help others, can be the downfall of a movement.

“Pride” and the power of collective action

The 2014 film Pride depicted a Welsh miners march.
Image via BBC Films

this is not the case pride. A year after the film begins, we’re back in time for the 1985 London Pride parade. LGSM reunited for the parade but were told to stand back with “fringe groups” as parade organizers wanted this year’s pride event to focus on entertainment, not politics. As they began to argue about the way forward, something caught their attention. The miners returned, marching with them in support. The numbers forced organizers to let them lead the march, and they marched through the streets of London in solidarity. As Billy Bragg’s “There is Power in a Union” played out, we saw the Labor Party include gay rights in its official platform a year after the strike ended, which made a big difference. Thanks in part to the full support of the National Miners Union. Although the strike was broken, the bonds of solidarity formed through the strike remained.

what can we learn pride? On paper, it’s a great movie, with a soundtrack of union anthems and British 80s pop, and an all-across the ocean cast that includes your favorite actors. But more importantly, it shows the power and necessity of unity. At one point, Day described the labor movement in terms of handshake banners in union halls. “I have your back and you have mine.” Sounds simple, because it can be that simple. pride Highlights the political origins of the Pride movement, which is very important at a time when the LGBTQ community is being viciously targeted and in grave danger. Pretending that everything is fine and holding it down because it’s not “fun” for political reasons is not an option right now. It also highlights the important role trade unions play in collective action in the workplace and beyond. Unions have been suppressed since the 80s, but a revival of the American labor movement is starting to take shape, and it’s worth supporting. The WGA strike, and any impending strike, is one example.Supporting both sports is critical now, and pride Demonstrating the power that unity once had, and the power it may have again.

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