Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners

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Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners
LGSM at the BFI.JPG
Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, speaking at a 2015 British Film Institute event devoted to the 2014 film Pride. L-R: Mike Jackson, Gethin Roberts, Reggie Blennerhassett, Ray Aller, Jeff Cole.
Abbreviation LGSM
Formation 30 June 1984; 33 years ago (1984-06-30)
Founder Mark Ashton, Mike Jackson
Founded at London
Type NGO
Headquarters Gay's The Word
Official language
English
Secessions Lesbians Against Pit Closures
Website lgsm.org

Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) was an alliance of lesbians and gay men who formed in support of the striking British miners during the year-long UK miners strike of 1984–1985. By the end of the strike, there were eleven groups throughout the UK, and the London group alone raised £11,000 (equivalent to £30,056 in 2015) to support the strike.[1]

History[edit]

During the strike, the Thatcher administration sequestered the funds of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), meaning that it was pointless for supporters of the strike to send donations to the national union. Instead, support groups throughout the UK were encouraged to "twin" directly with the various mining communities in England, Scotland and Wales. Among these organisations, the LGSM was formed by Mark Ashton and his friend Michael Jackson, after the two men collected donations for the miners at the 1984 Lesbian and Gay Pride march in London.[2] The London LGSM group met and fundraised in numerous locations, including the Gay's the Word bookshop, which served as the London group's headquarters.[2][3] The London group was twinned with the Neath, Dulais[4] and Swansea Valleys Miners Support Groups.

In November 1984, a group of lesbians broke away from LGSM to form a separate group, Lesbians Against Pit Closures, although some lesbians remained active in the LGSM campaign rather than joining the women-only group.

In addition to raising approximately £20,000 for the families who were on strike, there were reciprocal visits. The largest single fundraising event that LGSM organised was the "Pits and Perverts" benefit concert, which was held in the Electric Ballroom in Camden Town, London on 10 December 1984.[5][6] The event was headlined by Bronski Beat and its lead singer, Jimmy Somerville.[7] The title of the benefit is claimed by many[8][7] to have originated as a headline in the British tabloid The Sun.

Legacy[edit]

"Pits and Perverts" held at The Wunderbar in 2016 inspired by the "Pits and Perverts" that is organized by LGSM in 1984

The alliances which the campaign forged between the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and British labour groups proved to be an important turning point in the progression of LGBT issues in the United Kingdom.[2] Miners' labour groups began to support, endorse and participate in various gay pride events throughout the UK, including leading London's Lesbian and Gay Pride parade in 1985.[2] Additionally, at the 1985 Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, a resolution committing the party to the support of LGBT rights passed, 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.[2]

An archive of the London group's work is kept at the People's History Museum in Manchester, England. It includes the minutes of the weekly meetings, correspondence, press cuttings, publicity material, enamel badges, photographs and the group's banner.[1]

The London group's alliance with the Welsh mining village of Onllwyn is dramatised in the 2014 film, Pride, which was directed by Matthew Warchus.[8][9][10] Several of the surviving group members participated in the film's promotion.

In 2015, following the film's release, the surviving members of the organisation held a 30th anniversary reunion to raise funds for the Mark Ashton Fund, an HIV/AIDS charitable fund administered by the Terrence Higgins Trust.[11] The group was chosen to lead the 2015 Birmingham Pride parade, in recognition of their historic status.[12] They were also slated to lead the 2015 Pride in London parade,[13] but withdrew in favour of marching further back in the parade after organisers refused to allow other affiliated groups, such as trade union contingents, to march immediately alongside the LGSM.[14]

LGSM announced on 9 October 2015 that the group would "wind down as a current campaigning force", saying that they did not want to become "a LGBT version of the British Legion".[15] However, they have made occasional statements since, such as supporting Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in August 2016.[16]

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