30 Years On, Miners Take Pride Again

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LGSM activists return to Wales for another ‘dance in Dulais’

Reprinted from : The Morning Star
 Saturday 14th Mar 2015  posted by Luke James in Britain

THIRTY years on from a first meeting immortalised on the silver screen, Welsh miners will be reunited tonight with their lesbian and gay supporters.

Twenty-seven members of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), led by Mark Ashton, travelled from London to Onllwyn miners’ welfare hall on October 26 1984.

That night of “dancing in Dulais” sparked the famous solidarity story told in Bafta-winning blockbuster Pride.

Many of the miners and LGSM members there from the outset will be among more than 250 people packed into a sold-out celebration at Onllwy’s Palace of Culture tonight.

The special event is being staged after both LGSM and the Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valleys Miners Support Group reformed in the wake of the film’s success.

Hywel Francis, the historian and local miners’ support group leader turned Labour MP, will launch a new edition of his book History on Our Side at the event.

Speaking to the Star yesterday he said: “It will be almost as if we were back 30 years ago.

“It’s a sense of reminding ourselves of the struggle and also renewal for the future.”

Pride was the catalyst for Dr Francis to take a fresh look at the consequences of the miners’ dispute in 1984-85.

He said that the “valuable alliance” built between miners and LGSM is part of the legacy that have helped coalfield communities endure in the face of industrial devastation.

“There were resources of hope that came out of that, including a tremendously strong sense of community and a sense of responsibility to one and other,” said the MP.

“That message, that eternal message, is still there and in that sense, despite the defeat, we feel that history is on our side.”

Pride actor Bronwen Lewis will join miners and their supporters, who are coming from across Britain and Europe, to attend the Onllwyn miners’ welfare hall tonight.

In a foreword for Dr Francis’s new book, LGSM secretary Mike Jackson describes his fateful first visit in 1984 “as one of the most memorable experiences of my life.”

He recalls: “As we walked through the double swing doors the level of the conversations dropped for a moment.

“Then someone started clapping and the rest followed.”

 

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