I’ve had this film resting in its Netflix envelope for several months now. I’m happy to report that the film Pride (2014) is a very fun watch. The story begins in 1984 with a group of lesbian and gay activists in London. This fabulous band of professional protesters come to the financial and moral support of striking coal miners in Southern Wales, struggling under the iron political grip of Britain’s Iron Lady.
It can be easy to get wrapped up in the LGBT movements of one’s own culture. I remember learning about the gay movement in the UK for the first time while studying abroad in London in 2008. I remember learning how “sodomy” used to be criminalized and men were punished for homosexual acts, yet little was said about the sex lives of lesbian women (oh wait, I forgot, women aren’t supposed to have sex lives apart from men, silly me!). Across the Atlantic as here in the U.S., the Gay Pride party screeched almost to a halt in the latter 80s thanks to the horrific AIDS crisis and its political, social, and epidemiological ramifications. I also learned about the harsh treatment of miners and unions in general under the severely conservative government of Margaret Thatcher.
These academic memories bounced around in my head as I watched this very sweet film. Though occasionally casting too rosy a sheen on the state of affairs in 80s Britain (every one grooves to awesome music, every gay person is beautiful and friendly, (almost) everyone in the village of Onllwyn gets over their homophobia, etc.), the film manages to not oversimplify the plight and pride of either oppressed group, remaining grounded in the true story. Bonus: Though these LBGT film stories always cast lesbians as sidekicks or mascots to the movement, I appreciated the tongue-in-cheek-edness of this film in which the lesbians complain loudly of their occasional second-class treatment.