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Former Welsh MP gives inside story of Miners’ Strike and LGSM

22 May 2022 3 minute read
Monday 23 May 2022 at 19:30, Streic y Glöwyr, LGSM a Pride

A special event has been organised in Caernarfon to celebrate a “very distinctive chapter in Wales’ LGBT history.”

Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) was an alliance of lesbians and gay men who “realising they had common foes in Margaret Thatcher, the police and the conservative press” supported the National Union of Mineworkers during the year long strike of 1984–1985.

Mark Ashton, gay rights activist and co-founder of LGSM, set the group up with his friend Mike Jackson after collecting donations for the miners at the 1984 Gay Pride march.

By the end of the strike the London branch alone had raised £22,500 (£70,000 in 2020) in support of communities decimated by the Thatcher administration’s deindustrialisation programme.

In the week which would have been Mark Ashton’s 62nd birthday, Osian Owen has organised the event on behalf of Llety Arall, a community enterprise in the heart of Caernarfon, exploring the inside story of the LGSM and the miner’s strike.

The story and Mark’s role in it, was dramatized in Pride, a 2014 historical comedy drama film written by Stephen Beresford, which was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and for the BAFTA for Best British Film, as well as winning the Queer Palm Award at 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Building bridges

One of the film’s main characters is former Labour MP, Siân James, played by Jessica Gunning, who helped feed over 1,000 families a week, during the 1984 miners’ strike.

She was instrumental in building bridges between the local community and the LGSM, speaking up for and inviting the campaign group to the village in order to thank them for their support.

As a mature student and women’s rights campaigner, Siân studied Welsh at Swansea University before going on to work as director of Welsh Women’s Aid and then becoming a Welsh Labour Party Member of Parliament for Swansea East from 2005 to 2015.

For this event, Siân will be joined in conversation by Iestyn Wyn, Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager for Stonewall Cymru, discussing the tumultous history, and the sociohistorical context of the film.

Solidarity With The Miners. Photo by simonm1965 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Key figure

Osian Owen said: “The event comes at an especially poignant moment. Wednesday 19 May would have been Mark Ashton’s 62nd birthday.

“Mark was co-founder of the LGSM group. He sadly died 12 days after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.  He was a key figure in this chapter of Britain’s history and was portrayed by Benjamin Schnetzer in Pride.

“We hope this event will be a positive celebration of our diversity, and an opportunity to celebrate this very distinctive chapter in Wales’ LGBT history.”

The event is being held in Llety Arall’s community events room, on Monday 23 May 2022 at 19:30, Llety Arall, at 10 Stryd y Plas, LL55 1RR. The event will also be livestreamed and those who wish to receive a link should contact Llety Arall on 01286 662907.

No registration is needed for those attending the physical event, and payment is on a “what you can afford/if you can afford” basis, a decision that was made in the face of the cost of living crisis.

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