|Born||19 May 1960|
Oldham, Lancashire, England
|Died||11 February 1987 (aged 26)|
|Alma mater||Northern Ireland Hotel and Catering College|
|Occupation(s)||Gay rights activist,|
General Secretary of the Young Communist League
|Political party||Communist Party of Great Britain|
Mark Christian Ashton (gay rights activist and co-founder of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) support group. He was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and general secretary of the Young Communist League.19 May 1960 – 11 February 1987) was a British
Ashton was born in Oldham, and moved to Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, where he grew up. He studied at the former Northern Ireland Hotel and Catering College in Portrush, before moving to London in 1978. Richard Coles wrote about this period: "Mark also worked for a while as a barman at the Conservative Club in King’s Cross, or, rather, as a barmaid, in drag, with a blonde beehive wig. I was never sure if the patrons worked out that he was really a man".
In 1982, he spent three months in Bangladesh visiting his parents, where his father was working for the textile machinery industry. The experience of his sojourn had a profound effect on him. Upon his return, he volunteered with the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and joined the Young Communist League. In 1983 he featured in the Lesbian and Gay Youth Video Project film Framed Youth: The Revenge of the Teenage Perverts, an early documentary that won the Grierson Award 1984 for Best Documentary.
He formed, with his friend Mike Jackson, the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) support group after the two men collected donations for the miners on strike at the 1984 Lesbian and Gay Pride march in London. The group was formed in Ashton's flat in Claydon House on the Heygate Estate, Elephant and Castle.
After LGSM, he became involved in the Red Wedge collective and became the General Secretary of the Young Communist League from 1985 to 1986.
Diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Ashton was admitted to Guy's Hospital on 30 January 1987 and died 12 days later of Pneumocystis pneumonia. His death prompted a significant response from the gay community, particularly in publication and attendance at his funeral at Lambeth Cemetery.
In his memory, the Mark Ashton Trust was created to raise money for individuals living with HIV, and as of 2007[update] it had raised £20,000. Since 2008, the Terrence Higgins Trust has included the Mark Ashton Red Ribbon Fund, which had collected more than £38,000 as of 2017[update]. Mark Ashton is also remembered on a panel on the UK AIDS Memorial Quilt and has been memorialised in May 2014 on a plaque at the entrance to the London headquarters of the Terrence Higgins Trust.
In 2017, on what would have been Ashton's 57th birthday, a blue plaque was unveiled in his honour above the Gay's The Word bookshop in Marchmont Street, London, the site where LGSM met and held meetings during the miners' strike.
The ballad "For a Friend" in the album Red from synth-pop duo The Communards was written in his memory. Mark Hooper of The Rough Guide to Rock writes that this cut may be Somerville's "most impassioned moment". Ashton was a friend of both Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles. For a Friend reached number 28 on the British charts.
The Constantine Giannaris film Jean Genet Is Dead (1989) is dedicated to his memory.
The LGSM's activities were dramatised in Pride, a film released in September 2014 featuring Ben Schnetzer as Ashton. Ashton's role in the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners group was recalled in a series of interviews with some of its other members prior to the film's release. However, Ashton's membership in the Young Communist League was not explicitly mentioned in the film, possibly to avoid alienating American audiences. Fellow communist activist and a close friend of Mark Ashton, Lorraine Douglas, accused the film of having "glossed over Mark's politics and said nothing about the fact he subsequently became General Secretary of the YCL", the youth wing of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Schnetzer, an American actor, was nominated for two British Independent Film Awards for his performance.
On 25 September 2018, the Council of Paris awarded the garden adjoining the Hôtel d'Angoulême Lamoignon the new name of Jardin de l'Hôtel-Lamoignon - Mark-Ashton (Hôtel-Lamoignon - Mark Ashton Garden), in his memory.
On 2 June 2021, the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council approved the erection of a memorial blue plaque in his hometown of Portrush.
On 28 August 2022, a tree was planted in St Columbs park in memory of Mark Ashton, as part of the 2022 Foyle pride events. His former LGSM member Mike Jackson and civil rights activist Bernadette McAliskey were in attendance.
- ^ a b Kelliher 2014.
- ^ a b Frost 2016.
- ^ a b c Doward 2014.
- ^ a b Birch 2007.
- ^ a b Coles 2014.
- ^ a b Birch 1994.
- ^ Framed Youth: Revenge of the Teenage Perverts at IMDb
- ^ Framed Youth Revenge of the Teenage Perverts (1983) at the British Film Institute
- ^ a b Kellaway 2014.
- ^ "Lesbians and Gays support the Miners looks back on the strikes 35 years ago". Islington Now. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
- ^ a b Robinson 2007, p. 170.
- ^ Frost 2014.
- ^ a b Taylor & Keay 2006.
- ^ Birch, Chris. "The Mark Ashton Red Ribbon Fund".
- ^ "HIV Quilt Comes Out in May". George House Trust. 21 February 2007. Archived from the original on 21 June 2008.
- ^ Birch 2014.
- ^ "Mark Ashton memorial plaque". Crowdfunder. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
- ^ "See LGBT activist Mark Ashton's plaque". Gasholder. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
- ^ a b Hooper 2003, p. 221–222.
- ^ Kellman, Andy. "Review: Red". AllMusic.
- ^ Warwick, Kutner & Brown 2004, p. 256.
- ^ Jean Genet Is Dead at IMDb
- ^ Murray 1998, p. 56.
- ^ Meddick, Simon; Payne, Liz; Katz, Phil (2020). Red Lives: Communists and the Struggle for Socialism. UK: Manifesto Press Cooperative Limited. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-907464-45-4.
- ^ Barraclough, Leo (7 December 2014). "Matthew Warchus' 'Pride' Wins Top Prize at British Independent Film Awards". Variety.
- ^ Volfson, Olga (27 September 2018). "Mark Ashton, militant queer fondateur de Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, honoré par la ville de Paris". Komitid (in French).
- ^ "2018 DAC 389. Attribution de la dénomination Jardin de l'Hôtel Lamoignon - Mark Ashton, au jardin de l'Hôtel Lamoignon (4e)" (in French).
- ^ McCann, Maria. "Mark Ashton: Council approves Portrush memorial for gay activist".
- ^ @LGSMpride (28 August 2022). "Just planted this tree in memory of Mark in St Columbs garden, Derry City" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Birch, Chris (April 1994). "Mark Ashton - Panel No: 69". AIDSquilt.org.uk. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012.
- Birch, Chris (28 January 2007). "Mark Ashton". Gone Too Soon. All Points North. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
- Birch, Chris (2010). My Life: The Caribbean, Communism, Budapest 1956, journalism, HIV/Aids, London Lighthouse, Diana's funeral, Westminster Abbey, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and much more. St Christopher Press. ISBN 978-0-9545721-1-2.
- Birch, Chris (2014). "The Mark Ashton Red Ribbon Fund". Red Ribbon Fund Newsletter. Terrence Higgins Trust (5).
- Birch, Chris (28 January 2016). "Memories of a class fighter". Morning Star.
- Coles, Richard (2014). Fathomless Riches: Or How I Went From Pop to Pulpit. Hachette UK. ISBN 978-0-297-87031-9.
- Doward, Jamie (21 September 2014). "The real-life triumphs of the gay communist behind hit movie Pride". The Guardian.
- Fischer, Mark (25 September 2014). "Moving and inspiring. Matthew Warchus (director) Pride general release". Weekly Worker.
- Frost, Peter (11 September 2014). "'Pits and Perverts:' The Legacy of Communist Mark Ashton". Morning Star.
- Frost, Peter (1 June 2016). "Honouring Irish LGBT heroes – a century ago and today". Morning Star.
- Hall–Carpenter Archives (1989). "Mark Ashton: Five Friends Remember". Walking After Midnight: Gay Men's Life Stories. Routledge. pp. 205–223. ISBN 978-0-415-02957-5. OL 15164674W.
- Hooper, Mark (2003). Buckley, Peter (ed.). The Rough Guide to Rock (3rd ed.). Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-84353-105-0. OL 9016361W.
- Kellaway, Kate (31 August 2014). "When miners and gay activists united: the real story of the film Pride". The Guardian.
- Kelliher, Diarmaid (2014). "Solidarity and Sexuality: Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners 1984–5" (PDF). History Workshop Journal. Oxford Journals. 77 (1): 240–262. doi:10.1093/hwj/dbt012.
- Kutner, Jon (28 October 2012). "For A Friend (Communards)".
- Leeworthy, Daryl (2018). "Ashton, Mark Christian". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.111326.
- Massillon, Julien (18 February 2015). "L'émotion de Jimmy Somerville: "Le héros de "Pride" était mon meilleur ami"". Yagg (in French).
- Murray, Raymond (1998). Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video. Titan Books. ISBN 978-1-84023-033-8. OL 647635W.
- Robinson, Lucy (2007). Gay men and the left in post-war Britain: how the personal got political. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-7434-9. OL 21837097M.
- Taylor, David G; Keay, Jon (June 2006). "Mark Ashton remembered". Positive Nation. Archived from the original on 11 January 2009.
- Wallace, Bruce (20 March 1987). "Obituary – Mark Ashton". The Leninist.
- Warwick, Neil; Kutner, Jon; Brown, Tony (2004). The Complete Book of the British charts: Singles & Albums. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-84449-058-5. OL 8955386M.
- Wilson, Colin (21 September 2014). "Dear Love of Comrades: The politics of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners". rs21.
- "'Mark was a very popular guy - he knew everyone', says close friend". Coleraine Times. 10 September 2014. Archived from the original on 6 December 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
- 1960 births
- 1987 deaths
- AIDS-related deaths in England
- British Roman Catholics
- Communist Party of Great Britain members
- Young Communist League of Britain members
- People from Oldham
- People from Portrush
- English LGBT rights activists
- English gay men
- LGBT rights activists from Northern Ireland
- Gay men from Northern Ireland
- 20th-century LGBT people from Northern Ireland