More often than not, marginalised communities have had to fight battles all their life. From religious minorities to the LGBTQIA community, all such suppressed groups have fought wars for basic human rights. There are uncelebrated and unheard voices who have sacrificed so much in the process of these battles and had so many victories, many of which we are unaware of. Pride (2014) throws light on one such story.
Centred around the miners’ protests in UK in 1984, Pride narrates the tale of how the LGBTQ community, led by activist Mark Ashton, decided to support the miners’ strike and by doing so obtain enhanced support for the homosexual community. While homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK in 1967, the stigma and the discrimination had not lessened much. Hate crimes and ill-treatment of the community were very much prevalent. Despite vehement opposition from the mining community to the support by the LGBTQ crowd, Mark and his team of five supporters decide to go ahead and donate whatever donations and collections they have to a small village in southern wales. While the town had a polarizing reaction to the support extended, it affects all of them in many beautiful ways. This entire campaign was referred to as the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign (LGSM).
When stripped of everything, Pride is simply about solidarity. However, when looked at from a macro lens, the film delves into a host of topics ranging from feminism, sexism and fragile male egos to homophobia and acceptance. Despite throwing light on all the said topics, the film does complete justice in terms of the writing and does not once come across as half-baked or clunky. The beauty of Pride lies in these parallel storylines. From a story of a gay boy with conservative parents wanting to participate in the LGSM Campaign to that of the empowerment of a homemaker to go beyond her self-established limits and realise her true potential, this movie has some remarkable sub-plots that enrapture the audience.
In my opinion, to label Pride as an LGBTQIA movie is not apt. Writer Stephen Beresford beautifully weaves the storyline such that the LGBTQIA community is just an enabler for the characters. As mentioned earlier, the element that takes centre-stage here is that of solidarity and fraternity. The LGBTQIA community empathise with the Miners for their struggle and the backlash they are facing, despite a major chunk of the mining community criticising the homosexuals. The LGBTQIA activists act as catalysts to the members of the small mining town by fostering strong bonds, challenging perceptions, changing mindsets and even transforming lives. The screenplay never gets overtly melodramatic or theatrical about the struggle; instead it oscillates skilfully between thoughtful and humorous moments.
Director Matthew Warchus manages to extract brilliant performances from a terrific ensemble cast that includes the likes of Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, George MacKay, Dominic West, Ben Schnetzer and Andrew Scott. A special mention to Jessica Gunning who essays the role of Siân James – a cute, charming and vocal homemaker who finds her true worth amidst this protest. The screenplay has been carefully constructed such that each of these characters has a definitive arc of their own and also contributes to the overall impact of the film.
Movies and art have evolved positively over time. Today, it is not only enough to tell compelling stories, but representation and inclusivity also are key factors that need to be considered when green-lighting films. Only if we see stories and characters such as these often would it be treated as the so-called “normal”. The more the viewers are exposed to these stories, the wider the acceptance and the larger the awareness. With the advent of social media, we are often projecting different versions of ourselves from our honest original self. And Pride implores us to not just be proud of who we are, but also to take pride in our achievements, to take pride in our victories and to take pride in our journeys. Pride is akin to a warm hug, something we are in dire need of today in this increasingly spiteful world.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.