We used the case of the 1984/85 coal miners strikes in the UK and watched a film called Pride which documented the relationship which grew between the striking coal miners, and the lesbian and gay community.
In order to understand the intricate socio-economic and political nuances of the film, as well as that time in history, we first looked at what it meant to be a coal miner in the UK in the 70’s and 80’s and the stereotypical mining town communities and their experiences of the world - or lack of experiences.
Next we looked at a brief history of the lead up to the protests. We completed a jigsaw activity with milestone dates of the pre-Thatcher government of the UK and the feelings of economic hardship right through to Thatcher’s privatisation and closure of the coal mines.
Once we had a better understanding of the situation we watched the film Pride which showed us how a group of gay and lesbian activists living in and around London decided to help the miners with their plight. They called around the different mining unions and despite lots of prejudiced knock backs they continued and eventually found a union in South Wales that was willing to accept their help. What followed was months of relationship building and for the gay and lesbian community – fundraising efforts back in London. At a time when the government of the UK was planning to starve the coal miners back to work, a community from the other side of the country felt solidarity with them; despite all their differences they had a common goal, to stand up for their rights against the government and ensure their voice was heard.
Throughout the film there are both supporters and dismissers of the gay and lesbian community, especially from working class coal mining towns. However, in 1985 at the Gay Pride march in London dozens and dozens of miners unions coordinated themselves and drove down to London in buses to join their new friends on the March and actually ended up leading it due their sheer numbers. Following this a resolution committing the Labour party to the support of LGBT rights passed at the Labour party conference in 1985, due to block voting support from the National Union of Mineworkers. The miners' groups were also among the most outspoken allies of the LGBT community in the 1988 campaign against Section 28 – a piece of UK legislation which prohibited talk of gay and lesbian relationships in schools.