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Film screening and talk to show history of LGBT+ support for miners

today6 July 2022 4

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A screening of the film Pride which focuses on the fundraising done by the LGBT+ community for striking miners will highlight real-life stories behind the movie including a Nottingham link. Campaigners also aim to highlight the contribution from the miners to the libraries of Nottingham, three of which are facing closure.

The Save Nottingham’s Libraries campaign is hosting the screening at the Savoy Cinema and talk at Radford Library on Saturday, July 9 at 10:30 to show the dedication of the Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) group in London in helping a Welsh mining community during the 1980s strikes.

Nicola Field, an original member of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners explained why the LGBT+ community came to the aid of the miners: “At the time, LGBT+ people were under attack. You could lose your job, your home and your children because of your sexuality or gender expression. People were prevented from seeing their partners in hospital, even dying partners, by homophobic family members.”

She added: “The miners came out on strike against the government’s leaked plans to close down the coal industry and smash the National Union of Mineworkers. The TUC federation promised to support the miners but failed to deliver the industrial solidarity needed So those who were being targeted by the Thatcher government – not just LGBTQ+ people but also women, BAME people and disabled people – realised we were all on the same side: their enemy was our enemy and their fight was our fight.”

Read more: Meet the drag queens reviving Nottingham’s LGBT+ scene



Campaigners at the Radford Lenton Library
Campaigners at the Radford Lenton Library

She added: “A lot of people were organising politically around oppression issues and they, along with local trade union branches began to organise fundraising to keep the strike going and prevent the miners and their communities from being starved back to work. There were ten LGSM groups all over the UK, including one in Belfast and one in London.”

Nicola was involved in collecting during this time and highlighted the importance of libraries and bookshops, like Mushroom Books, Sisterwrite and Gay’s the Word. People would rely on these for information on LGBTQ-friendly venues and protests and demonstrations.

“There was a lot of community building through going around shaking a bucket, as well as collecting money. We had conversations about the strike and what it meant. It was through having those discussions that we could put forward the argument for solidarity when people didn’t see why supporting the miners was important for everyone. We had to explain that miners go down deep into the dark, dusty and dirty, airless underground to dig coal to make electricity. It was a brutal job that deserved security and decent pay. Everyone depended on the miners.”

Some of the lesbians who were involved in the LGSM formed their own group, Lesbians Against Pit Closures. Nicola was one of the founding members of this group which went on to support Nottingham women.

“I was part of founding Lesbians Against Pit Closures which twinned and identified with the women’s support group at Rhodesia Valley in Nottinghamshire. We raised about £3000 a significant amount of money at that time. We saw ourselves as part of the Women Against Pit Closures network around the country.”



Lesbian's benefit for the miners 1985
Lesbian’s benefit for the miners 1985

As a traditionally male-dominated industry, how did the miners react to the LGBT+ community? Nicola highlights that trust had to be established on both sides.

In the film Pride there is a level of homophobia depicted which help with the tensions and conflicts of the story told. But none of us ever experienced anything except welcome, happiness, embracing and solidarity. I was more prejudiced and fearful than the members of the mining community. I grew up in a very toxic, misogynistic, LGBTQ+-phobic, heteronormative environment where I had to learn to trust these families. I thought all straight people would humiliate me in some way. In fact, I was welcomed and loved.”

She added: “It can go both ways, learning to trust and changing consciousness. Another member of LGSM, Mike Jackson has said publicly that the people who went down to be hosted by the mining community did not experience any homophobia at all because their welcome and awareness was so great.”

When it came to the miner’s support for the libraries, Nicole explains why the community supported the libraries.

“The miners fought for dignity, power and some measure of control over their own lives,” said Nicola. “They had to be strong, united and willing and ready to take industrial action to demand and maintain this. This included workers’ education and the liberation of the mind through reading, learning and understanding history, culture, music, literature, science, engineering, technology, poetry, working-class leadership and political theory.

“Miners understood and wanted to provide education so they organised and created libraries and classes. Libraries are critical to people’s right to knowledge and self-actualisation. They must be local and freely available.”

The film will be screened on Saturday, July 9 at Savoy cinema followed by the talk at Radford Lenton Library at 10:30

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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