30 Years on – LGSM at London Pride 27th June – Solidarity forever!

LGSM will join the trade union contingent at London Pride, 30 years after the events depicted at the end of the film Pride which embodied the alliance between LGBT communities, Trade Unions and Miners. We are overwhelmed by the positive reaction from trade unionists, LGBT activists and a whole new generation of young people who have learnt about us through the film. Our contingent will include the Tredegar Marching band who were in the film, trade unions members and miners, university, college and 6th Form students and the South Wales Gay Men’s Choir. At a time of increased brutal austerity, many vulnerable communities will be targeted and blamed for a crisis they did not create. Just as we supported the miners all those years ago, solidarity, ‘finding out you have a friend you never knew existed’ is not only the best feeling the world, but is important now more than ever. As Stephen Beresford, writer of Pride, said in his BAFTA Acceptance speech: ‘LGSM raised money for the Dulais community in South Wales for no other reason than that they saw that all of our struggles have common cause. We do incredible things when we all stand together. Unite.’ Let’s keep uniting – something we can all be proud of!

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“You have worn our badge ‘Coal Not Dole’ and you know what harassment means, as we do. Now we will support you. It won’t change overnight, but now a hundred and forty thousand miners know … about blacks and gays and nuclear disarmament and we will never be the same.”

David Donovan speaking on behalf of the Dulais miners to a crowd of 1,500 at the Pits and Perverts Ball, Camden Town, 10th December 1984

“When you say to people now in the [mining] communities that the gays and lesbians have been they say ‘Oh! How are they, did you have a good time?’ Some of my neighbours have said ‘Why haven’t you brought me to meet them?’ Now I thought that they might be … well … not offended exactly but … well … closed in. But they haven’t been like that at all. They’re great and they’ve accepted that there is a life apart from that in the valleys.”

Sian James, miner’s wife, secretary of South Wales Women’s Support Groups

“… just AMAZING ! … I could not stop talking about and reading all the stuff your group’s achieved … when there’s not much optimistic around it (copies of LGSM’s archive material) came through the post like a ray of sunshine!!”

from Allan Dalton, Labour Research Department, 8th February 1985

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LGSM at Pride 2015

In response to the comments that our earlier posting has prompted from our friends and supporters, LGSM would like to clarify the reasons why we decided not to lead the Pride in London (PiL) Parade and to move to Bloc C and join our trade union allies and wider supporter network.

As people will be aware from the film Pride, the 1985 Pride parade was led by LGSM and members of the South Wales mining communities who responded to the support that LGSM gave them during the 1984-5 strike. On the 30th anniversary of that event we were keen to commemorate it by once again demonstrating the solidarity that brought about a major shift towards LGBT rights in this country.

In 2015 we feel there is a greater need than ever for solidarity between those fighting against all forms of oppression and injustice, and for the liberation of LGBT people. When Pride in London asked us to lead the parade we naturally welcomed the opportunity to replicate not only the actions but also the spirit of the 1985 parade, and to become a point of attraction for trade unions, student and youth groups and other campaigning organisations.

Over the last few years many people have become concerned about the increasingly higher profile of major private corporations on Pride, both in terms of sponsorship and their prominence in the parade itself, and were excited by the prospect of this Pride having a different atmosphere and focus because of LGSM’s role in heading the march. We fully understand, therefore, the sense of disappointment and frustration felt by so many of our friends and supporters now that this has changed.

Discussions between LGSM and the PiL Board revolved around two issues: the numbers in our contingent at the head of the Parade; and the position of the trade unions and our wider supporter network. Requests at one stage that our contingent be only 50 people were not acceptable and this was successfully negotiated upwards to nearer 300. LGSM then reluctantly accepted that our contingent would not be in one block, but we had the understanding, possibly as a result of miscommunication, that our other supporters would be marching as close as possible behind us, separated only by a group of flag-bearers.

When the order of parade was published on 21st May, we were very surprised to discover that the trade unions, students and other supporters would be located in Bloc C, some way behind LGSM. This would mean that LGSM would be arriving at Trafalgar Square when our supporters were still at the Parade assembly point in Baker Street. This was not acceptable to us and we appealed strongly to PiL to reconsider and to move the TU section nearer to the Head of Parade. At the PiL Open Meeting on 1st June, it was clear that our appeal was not going to be accepted by PiL and we thereforefelt that we had no alternative but to withdraw from leading the Parade and propose that LGSM move to Bloc C, as an act of solidarity with our growing numberof friends and supporters. This request was accepted by PiL.

We would like to make it clear that we are working to ensure that issues of LGBT liberation, class politics, trade unionism, solidarity and wider anti-austerity and other struggles will be raised on the march and that we remain determined to bring a different character to this year’s Pride.

We will be marching at the head of the trade union section alongside the re-formed Swansea, Neath and Dulais Valley Miners Support group with their miners’ banners, the Tredegar Town Brass Band (as seen in the movie), and the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus. The Mark Ashton Trust will also be marching with us, as well as our supporters of all ages who are travelling from all over the country and the world to join us. Our trademark ‘Pits and Perverts’ t-shirts, badges and other merchandise will be on sale and we hope to make a united, inclusive and vibrant intervention in the parade. We hope we will see many of you on the day.

Solidarity forever!