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Written by Anita Klich, Gale Ambassador & contributor
I am a Gale Ambassador as well as a Student Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth where I study Journalism and Media Studies. I’m graduating this year and hope to work in the fields of journalism, public relations or digital marketing next year. Some of my many interests are art, learning foreign languages and psychology. I have a passion for broadening my knowledge, and want to promote Gale resources as they give people the opportunity to explore history, which is a key element of research in every field of study. Anita Klich.
Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) is considered one of the most important alliances in LGBT history. It saw lesbians and gays coming together in the mid-1980s to support British miners who were striking to prevent colliery closures. The strike was condemned by the government led by Margaret Thatcher. Some believe the alliance between the LGBT community and British working class was a turning point in the history of LGBT people and their existence within British society. I decided to find out how different newspapers described the strike and the alliance. Thanks to the Archives of Sexuality & Gender resource in Gale Primary Sources, available through Portsmouth University Library, I was able to find out how newspapers covered the strike, including what visuals they provided to support their coverage.
As Capital Gay describes, the London gay community raised funds to support the miners. Some people were eager to donate a considerable part of their own salary to show their support for the cause. The London gay community gathered £11,000, and the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners alliance raised over £20,000.
To raise these funds, the alliance organised events such as a “Pits and Perverts” benefit concert starring Bronsky Beat. The event took place in Camden Town, London, and attracted more than 1000 people, raising £5,000 to support the miners. Although the event was organised by the LGBT community, everyone was welcome. Many miners, including representatives of the mining community, brought their own families and publicly thanked the gay community for their support. They also expressed their intention to support the gay community in the future.
Since then, the miners’ community has been actively supporting the gay community. Many of them attended London’s Lesbian and Gay Pride, and then, 3 years later, spoke against Section 28, which was meant to ban promoting homosexuality.
The strong relationship between the LGBT and miners’ communities stood the test of time. In 1992, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners officially supported the national pit strike where 150,000 people demonstrated their solidarity and support for the miners who were sacked by the Conservative Party.
Even today, the strong alliance of the gay community and the miners is remembered. In 2014, Matthew Warchus directed a film, Pride, which shows the impact of the LGSM alliance. The surviving members of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners alliance participated in the promotion of the film and held a 30-anniversary reunion to raise funds for Mark Ashton Fund, a HIV/AIDS charitable fund.