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A new British comedy film opens today in the UK. One of the conditions for the arising of this moving and hilarious film is a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order: Upekshapriya, member of the Manchester sangha and longtime film-maker at Clear Vision.
Starring leading British actors Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton, Pride: The Movie is an account of a little-known episode in recent British history. In the 1980s, under Margaret Thatcher’s government, a group of gay men and lesbians decided to raise money to support poverty-stricken coalmining families in south Wales. “Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners”, or LGSM, saw common cause between their own suffering under anti-gay legislation and the plight of miners striking in opposition to the government’s threatened closure of their pits.
The young Upekshapriya - Jeff Cole as he was - was a member of LGSM. “It’s amazing how actions have consequences. As part of LGSM’s video subgroup I helped make a video record of our activities called All Out! Dancing in Dulais. Many years later, in 2006, I put this video on my website and on YouTube. In early 2011, the film’s writer, Stephen Beresford, was trying to find out more about LGSM. Our activities had become something of a myth, but searching on Google and finding my video he could see that it really had happened.” From there, Beresford was able to trace many of those who’d been involved, both in LGSM and in south Wales. One of the film’s characters is named after Upekshapriya - Jeff (played by Freddie Fox) - though there’s not a lot of resemblance between them.
Not content with merely shaking collection buckets, the group, including Upekshapriya, accepted an invitation to a small Welsh mining village to stay with the striking miners’ families, The film exaggerates this most unlikely social encounter to great comic effect. The outcome is very stirring.
“I feel proud that we helped create history”, says Upekshapriya. “There were several lesbian and gay groups supporting the miners and because of our actions the National Union of Mineworkers decided to support lesbian and gay rights, helping to bring lesbian and gay rights into the mainstream of British politics through the Labour Party and the trades union movement.”
“We supported the miners and went to Wales in solidarity with people who were suffering; for altruistic reasons. We never know the consequences of compassionate action in the world.”
Watch the official trailer.
Find the trailer on YouTube too.
Watch the original LGSM video material. (And catch a glimpse of the young Upekshapriya at 10’ 52”!)