Voices in the Coalshed: Pride
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Voices in the Coalshed: Pride

Anyone with any connections to the mining industry would very much associate the word pride with both the industry and those who worked in it. Pride in their families; pride in their labour; pride in their contribution to their communities; pride in their contribution to their country as a whole; pride in their history. But it is another “Pride” that we want to look at today; LGBTQ+ Pride and its connections to the industry we are so proud of.

For many people there may have been no obvious connection until, that is, the feature film Pride hit our screens telling the story of LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) a group of people from London who donated more money to the cause of striking miners in the Dulais valley than any other group. It tells the story of the unusual connections which formed between the groups and how those miners who were helped by the LGSM at possibly the most difficult time in their lives, marched alongside them at Gay Pride in London in June 1985.

Following quickly on from that, at the 1985 Labour Party Conference, the motion to enshrine Gay and Lesbian rights into the manifesto was tabled yet again. This time, however, the outcome was different. This time, with the support of the NUM, the largest union at the conference, and its block vote, the motion was carried.

Is that it for connections between the LGBTQ+ community and mining? Of course not; it can’t possibly be. Like any other industry LGBTQ+ people were part of the workforce. One local LGBTQ+ miner has told of how he had to change pits when work became uncomfortable for him when his colleagues learned that he was gay. He also talks of being told to live a double life, to create another self for the people he worked alongside so that he could work in the industry he loved. He finishes by saying that, now in his 50s, he finds himself a part of the “run of the mill” society.

“Pride” grew out of the difficulties experienced by LGBTQ+ people across the world and out of a desire to express their pride in themselves. In the UK, the first ever Pride event was held in London in the early 70s. Other cities followed suit: a Pride event was held in Liverpool in 1979, in Birmingham in 1983, in Manchester in 1985, in Scotland in 1995 and so on.

2024 will see the 20th Pride event in Wakefield, at the heart of one of the largest former mining communities. It is an important highlight in the city’s calendar, enjoyed by many and NCMME will be attending to support the event in August.

Written by Volunteer Nicola