A story of interesting bedfellows, the 2014 film Pride depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who rally together and raise money in support of a group of Welsh coal miners. Based on a true story, the film takes place at the height of the British miner’s strike of 1984, which also happened to coincide with one of the most turbulent and progressive time periods in the history of LGBT rights. Realizing both groups have a bone to pick with the British Parliament and Prime Minister Thatcher, an unlikely, yet powerful alliance is formed.
With a large ensemble of beloved seasoned actors and new up-and-comers, Pride shares the beginning of what would go on to become the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) campaign, one of the most unexpected and successful civil rights alliances in history. The film opens as Joe “Bromley” Cooper, played by George MacKay, joins the 1984 Pride March, which falls on his 20th birthday. Joe meets a handful of activists, including Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer), Steph Chambers (Faye Marsay), Jonathan Blake (Dominic West), and Gethin Roberts (Andrew Scott). Inspired by the plight of the British mining unions, Mark Ashton points out the similarities between miners and LGBT. Behind their tough, hardworking exteriors, the miners are facing some familiar troubles with the media, police, public opinion, and above all, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Ashton and his motley band of gays and lesbians start raising funds in support of the mining communities the government is trying to starve into submission. Reluctant to accept support from the LGBT community, however, many mining unions turn the group away, prompting the LGSM to travel to a small mining village in Wales where an alliance is formed.
Meanwhile, in the small mining village of Onllwyn, villagers are storing up canned goods and supplies as the miners are preparing to ride out the strike. Hefina (Imelda Staunton), Dai (Paddy Considine), Cliff (Bill Nighy), and Sian (Jessica Gunning) decide to welcome the newly minted Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, and help the gruff Welsh miners realize how much this fledgling group has done to help them survive the poverty a long-term strike delivers.
As the stirring account unfolds, these two seemingly opposite groups begin to form a powerful bond. Though the miners are ultimately defeated and must return to work, they never forget the support the LGSM campaign offered them, ultimately returning the favor with a bold display during the following year’s Pride March.
Incredibly written, Stephen Beresford’s script not only delivers a heartfelt account of a factual national movement, but also manages to weave in a variety of characters and stories, adding emotional depth to the film. Audiences fall in love with a gay man who struggles to reconnect with his mother after 16 years, the bold realization that a miner’s wife could go on to do more with her life (like, become a member of Parliament, perhaps?), and the onset of AIDS/HIV in the early 1980’s.
After debuting at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation and claimed the Queer Palm Award, Pride went on to a successful release in the UK. As word spreads, this energetic, historical comedy-drama has become hugely popular among film festival audiences and those who were fortunate enough to view the film during its limited initial release in the US. Continuing its expansion to new markets, Pride manages to build up steam, much like the political movements it portrays.