We meet Mark (Ben Schnetzer) in his council flat, kicking out last night’s conquest and collecting buckets to take to the 1984 Gay Pride march. The idea is to show solidarity with the striking miners, with whom the gay community feels an affinity, for it’s now the miners’ turn to feel the full force of the law, literally. On the march we meet budding pastry chef and photographer Joe (George MacKay), soon nicknamed Bromley by his new-found band of mates. He represents the typical scared closet gay, living in suburbia with his folks and too timid to come out. Joe’s courage gains strength as the LGSM group gains momentum, but he’s not the only one who changes and becomes stronger.
After collecting the cash, Mark realises that they could achieve more and thus the Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners group is born. The problem is finding miners to support. It appears that the NUM is not keen on accepting the pink pound. Bypassing the union, they head to south Wales and the Dulais colliery. And so begins this relationship of perhaps the strangest political bedfellows. The LGSM breaks down prejudice in this mining community and wins over most of the population, which consists of their leader Dai (Paddy Considine), and the indomitable women’s committee led by Sian (Jessica Gunning) and Hefina (Imelda Staunton). Throw in the poet-loving ex miner (Bill Nighy) on the part of Dulais and Dominic West camping it up as thespian turned gay bookshop owner Jonathan and you have a British hit just waiting to happen.
Music plays a big part, and the usual suspects are here, most notably Bronski Beat, who performed at the Pits and Perverts benefit concert back in the day, and there’s also Alison Moyet and obviously the rousing King’s Pride. But there is also Paul Robeson here, the American singer and activist who was an advocate of the miners, frequently visiting the Welsh mining communities and performing for them. His voice and the singing of the Dulais community truly moves the audience. There is not a duff note from the cast either.
This is a film about people changing their attitudes and those of others, it’s about overcoming prejudice and is proof that the unlikeliest alliances can bring about amazing change. Like two other films depicting similar situations of social struggle, The Full Monty and Billy Elliot, Warchus relies on good old British humour here to make his point. But unlike those films, Pride is dealing with real stories of real people. It is a rousing and joyful testimony to a situation that at the time offered little to laugh about. Pride reminds us to be proud of those men and women, and what they achieved.