There is power in a union: Pride.
Pride begins as the film's protagonist, Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer), makes a connection between the police attacks on miners' picket lines and the raids and crack downs on gays and lesbians in the UK. He argues that although miners and those in the London gay and lesbian scene differ in many ways, they share a common experience of state violence. As the miners dig in for a long strike and other unions and social movements across the UK rally around them, Ashton and a small number of gay and lesbian activists decide to form LGSM to similarly support the striking miners. In the process, the group challenges homophobia and promotes gay and lesbian liberation. In short, LGSM's solidarity is both genuine and strategic.
LGSM's efforts are initially met with derision and scepticism by both miners and other lesbians and gays. Regardless, LGSM continues to raise funds through collections, canvassing, and benefits, and eventually chooses to donate its money to the small mining village of Onllwyn in the Dulais Valley in South Wales. At first, community members are unsure how to welcome LGSM members. Many are thankful for the financial support; yet, others are wary of accepting assistance from gays and lesbians for fear it will make them look "weak" in the media. As the strike drags on and money becomes tight in communities such as Onllwyn, miners have little choice.
LGSM perseveres and, as a result, gays, lesbians, and miners mix in the local union hall, which quickly becomes a space of inclusive solidarity and fellowship. There are, of course, still some bigoted community members who would rather starve than accept support from gays and lesbians; however, for the most part, Pride tells an inspiring story of transformation. Miners and LGSM members strengthen their bonds of solidarity through struggle and learn to accept and support each other as equals. Though the government of Margaret Thatcher eventually defeats the miners, essentially starving them back to work after a year of sacrifice on the picket line, the bonds of solidarity established between LGSM members and miners during the strike hold strong. The film concludes dramatically as unionized miners show up en masse to march in the London pride parade. The film's final scene follows the pride parade as it snakes through London's streets and, with Billy Bragg's song "There is Power in a Union" in the background, showcases the spirit of solidarity between miners and the LGBTQ community.
Pride is a must-watch film, for several reasons. Though it downplays the LGSM's overtly socialist politics and rounds the rough edges of class struggle, Pride nevertheless illustrates the important possibilities forged through collective action and solidarity. And, today, when social movements often appear to be disorganized, disconnected, and deflated in the face of large-scale social, environmental, and economic crisis, Pride's message of the power of social unionism, of collective improvement through collective struggle, is significant. As Billy Bragg sings, "There is power in a factory, power in the land /.../ But it all amounts to nothing if together we don't stand / There is power in a union!"
SEAN CARLETON (@SeanCarleton) is a member of the CD collective living in Peterborough, Ontario, Anishinaabe Territory. SEAN CARLETON (@SeanCarleton) is a member of the CD collective living in Peterborough, Ontario, Anishinaabe Territory.
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|Title Annotation:||All That's Left: THE POPULAR FRONT|
|Article Type:||Movie review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2015|
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