In 1984, coal miners in the UK went on strike for nearly a year. Protesting governmental policies and impending job cuts in the nationalized industry, the miners’ union cut off their work and in turn found themselves cut off from the rest of the country. Simple necessities like food and fuel became a challenge to obtain as the authorities attempted to push small mining towns into a corner of surrender. What does this have to do with pride and gay rights? Apparently everything.
Joe (George MacKay), one of the few fictional characters in this true story, is a young British man, coming of age, though not quite come out. Nervously joining a gay pride march in London, Joe finds himself taken in by a passionate group of activists – whether he likes it or not. The unofficial leader of the group, Mark (Ben Schnetzer) is inspired by the plight of the miners currently on strike. He recognizes a parallel between the struggles of the gay community and the striking miners. Both groups have been marginalized, persecuted by the government, and attacked by the press. Convincing a few others, including the impressionable Joe, to join in his efforts, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners is born.
Looking for a town to support with their funds turns out to be as challenging as raising the funds in the first place. Going through official channels, their requests go unanswered once their affiliation is known. Taking a leap of faith, they decide to go straight to the source – calling a random village in Wales, the little old woman who answers the phone is more than happy to accept their money and so a road trip is order. Once arriving, however, despite tentative support from the town’s representative, Dai (Paddy Considine), the group is met with trepidation. Bill Nighy also stars.
Despite the nature of the story, this film never seems to be overtly pressing an agenda of any sort, which is a big part of what makes it works. This is not about gay rights, or miners’ rights for that matter. It’s really just about solidarity and supporting those who are struggling. And earnest story, it’s a reminder that people are people, no matter how gay. Or politically subversive. It’s about embracing similarities first – differences can be sorted out later. Yes it has an overall message of acceptance that some will not find agreeable, but at no time did I feel like an opinion was being forced down my throat.
The story here is touching and a powerful reminder that when groups of people stick together for something they believe is right, amazing things – big and small – can happen. It’s also a deliciously humorous movie at times, with plenty of comedic moments – especially regarding the culture clash of the “big city gays” and simple folks of Onllywyn Wales. With the humor and hope also com moments of despair and harsh realities, a contrasting reminder of the life Joe and his friends, as well as the hard working miners, are facing.
A rousing, poignant tale about unexpected friendships and alliances, Pride will undoubtedly move you.
Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: Four out of five hats
Pride marches into a limited number of theaters, October 10