The London Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) group was formed in July 1984, four months into the year-long miners’ strike of 1984-5. Founding members Mike Jackson and Mark Ashton had organised a bucket collection to support the striking miners on the June 1984 London Pride march and decided that more needed to be done to raise awareness of the miners’ cause in the London lesbian and gay community. Eleven people attended that first meeting and over sixty people were involved in LGSM by the end of the strike in March 1985. LGSM groups were also formed in ten other towns and cities across the UK, among them Manchester, Brighton, Southampton and Lothian. A Dublin LGSM group was also formed.
London LGSM built solidarity links with the South Wales mining communities of Dulais and also donated funds to the Nottinghamshire Women’s Support Group. The money raised was used to sustain striking miners and their families throughout the duration of the strike. Money was raised primarily from collections at gay pubs and clubs and on the pavement outside Gay’s The Word bookshop.
Lesbians Against Pit Closures (LAPC) was formed in November 1984 by some of the women members in LGSM and more than 20 women were involved in the group. They focused on raising money at women’s venues in London and donated the money raised to the Rhodisia Women’s Action Group in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. LGSM gave practical support to LAPC.
The single biggest fundraising event organised by London LGSM was the ‘Pits and Perverts’ benefit at London’s Electric Ballroom, on 10 December 1984, which raised £5,650. Bronski Beat (featuring Jimmy Somerville) were the headline act at the benefit.
The alliance between LGSM and the South Wales striking miners and their families was an important factor in turning the tide in the trade union movement in favour of equality measures for lesbians and gay men. At the October 1984 Labour Party Conference, the National Union of Mineworkers sent the following message of solidarity to the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights:
Support civil liberties and the struggle of lesbians and gay people. We welcome the links forged with South Wales and other areas. Our struggle is yours. Victory to the miners.
The NUM and the mining communities of South Wales joined LGSM at the head of the June 1985 London Pride march and the NUM went on to support the call for lesbian and gay equality at the 1985 Labour Party Conference and Trades Union Congress.
LGSM folded in June 1985, shortly after the end of the strike in March 1985, but reformed as Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners Again (LGSMA) when a huge round of pit closures were announced in 1992.
The LGSM story is told in the 2014 film Pride, and the group reformed in October 2014 to respond to the new wave of interest in our story. During 2015, our members have participated in, and in some cases our banner has led, twelve Pride parades/marches across the UK – including London, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Norwich. At the Pride in London Parade, we led a contingent of 4,000 people, carrying NUM, trade union and students’ banners.