Pride: a must-watch classic for parents and their queer teens

by | May 21, 2024 | Resources & Support | 0 comments

An alliance formed between two groups lacking power in the 1980s: Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM). An empowering, joyous film depicting the true, Thatcher-era story. Matthew Warchus (director) captures the unifying and passionate voices of the members of LGSM and the mining communities they supported. 

Following other films depicting the miners’ strikes like Billy Elliot and Brassed Off, Pride had a heavy act to follow. 

WATCH: Bronwen Lewis sings ‘Bread and Roses’ at 40th anniversary of LGSM ‘Pits and Perverts’

We follow George Mackey as Joe, a 20-year-old ‘baby gay’ at his first Pride march in 1984 London. Not before long, he finds himself at a queer party with Ben Schnetzer (Mark), Andrew Scott (Gethin) and Faye Marsay (Steph). They take him under their queer wing, their favoured place to meet being queer bookshop Gay’s The Word, owned by Gethin and Dominic West (Jonathon). 

The not-so-subtle representation of London queers during this period as gobby, but with something to say, is certainly an accurate depiction. The flamboyant soirées and dancing, paired with the euphoria of queer love and, more prominently, friendships makes for a researched and heart-warming watch. Where friends were often family for shunned LGBTQ+ people at the time, the strong bonds between bickering couples and comrades are certainly represented. 

While brainstorming their next fundraiser, Mark pitches groups in society who have been affected by the contemporary Tory government, a prominent Thatcher-hater. They decide to contact several mining communities across the UK, and hear back from a small village in the Dulais valley of Wales, Onllwyn. The group are then found on the streets, shaking buckets of cash, printed with Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. 

In a short time, the queer group are heading to Wales to meet the villagers. Unfortunately, it would seem certain members of the community hold the same animosity towards the gays as they do Thatcher…But certain characters, such as Jessica Gunning (Sian James) and Bill Nighy (Cliff), embrace them. 

The alliance that forms is one of controversy, but also camaraderie. In one instance, two ‘manly’ men from the Welsh village overcome their homophobia when Jonathon teaches them how to dance to attract women. What follows is an exuberant display of queer dance culture, with watching women swooning over a young Dominic West. At one meeting, one Welsh woman (Bronwen Lewis) stands up, singing Bread and Roses, in a poignant display of solidarity with the queers.  

Pride cast dancing.

The group organises a large fundraising event in London at the Electric Ballroom. They call it ‘Pits and Perverts’, ‘Pits’ referring, of course, to the miners, and ‘perverts’ to describe the queers, reclaiming this insult towards LGBTQ+ in the 70s and 80s. This involves queer artists, speeches, and lots (and lots) of dancing. An enraptured display representing the actual event.

A running theme well-covered throughout the film is the AIDs epidemic. We see the infamous AIDs warning message on Joe’s TV in his family home, his parents aptly capturing common contemporary homophobic attitudes (that HIV and AIDs are a ‘gay’ disease). We also learn Jonathon is living with HIV, as one of the first people diagnosed. The tragedy and paranoia of the epidemic is clearly visible, especially when Mark runs into an old beau who is on his ‘farewell tour’. 

Overall, what shines through about Pride is the warmth between characters. It captures the familiarity of meeting another queer person, and instantly having something in common with them. Knowing that you can be completely yourself, with no reservations. I think this is what young Joe felt; the stark difference between the way his family treated him and his new, gobby, gleeful, complex queer friends is certainly evocative. 

Pride teaches important lessons about power dynamics in society, as well as the past and ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights. It’s the perfect film to watch with your teenage children to educate them on how queer activism has changed, but more importantly how it has stayed the same in some aspects. 

It can be found on Disney + and other streaming platforms. Please be advised the age rating is 18+ in the UK.

This year, Pits and Perverts celebrated its 40th anniversary with an event back at the Electric Ballroom. It included queer artists, a Thatcher-hate dance troupe, a speech from Bill Nighy, and speakers from the real LGSM and members of the mining community. Bronwen Lewis also gave a speech before singing the infamous Bread and Roses, which can be seen on this page.