GT Screen

Pride: The gay film of a generation

GT reviews the blockbuster-in-waiting, Pride

As anyone who lived through the tumult of 1980s Britain will testify, they were times of enormous political and social upheaval. It was a period that saw communities torn apart, careers decimated, respectable men and women deprived of their livelihoods and minority groups pitted against one another like lions in a vast, media aggravated cage.

Margaret Thatcher had declared that there is no such thing as society. But though the miners' strike of 1984/5 brought towns to their knees, it never took them from one another. A sense of altruism and cooperation – ideas gravely unfashionable these days – were born of the struggle.

Miners were just one of many groups under siege from the cesarean birth of individualism. The poor, the destitute, the fringe, the intellectual, the idealistic; they all found themselves in a peripheral crevice of the 'society' they clung on to.

No group was more outcast than people like us. The gays. By 1987 the number of people who considered homosexuality to be "always wrong" had peaked at 64%. Just 11% considered being gay to never be wrong, so it's little surprise that it was within months of this frenzy of media pumped homophobia that Section 28 was introduced.

But as the saying goes, 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. The idea of a group of LGBT liberals from London, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), having anything in common with a town of Welsh miners was pretty out there. And yet their lives had been defined by the same struggles: against Thatcher and against the mainstream media, but never against each other.

Neither party was particularly enamoured with the other originally. But in the face of a common enemy, the pursuit of solidarity saw the pillars of their prejudice fall. That's the story of Pride. Though the end was gay rights, the means were a matter of right and wrong true to so many pursuits of justice.

The story has such power given its brilliant comic value. It captures the rich warmth of those involved, as they find joy even in the most beleaguered situations. You will laugh as persistently as you cry – and there's a great deal of both.

Pride doesn't shy away from the realities of the hard-won fight for equality: the vigilante attacks on gay people and their families; the scorn of passers-by in the early pride marches; the brutality of Thatcher's army of police. They all rear their ugly head in this illuminatingly truthful film.

Pride is the story of a generation's struggle. When it goes to cinemas from 12 September, it will be the film of a generation. As iconic and important as Queer as Folk or Brokeback Mountain, Pride deserves every bit of the rapturous reception it will get.

GT gives Pride: five stars

Look out for our new issue, available from Friday, for interviews with some of the heroes of the film

Words: Benjamin Butterworth / @benjaminbutter

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