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History -Surviving the Nazis, Only to Be Jailed by America

 

Eric Lichtblau
February 7, 2015
New York Times – Sunday Review
Today the U.S. government treats immigrants from Latin America the way liberated Jews were treated after World War II. Then a presidential aid reported: “we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. They are in concentration camps in large numbers under our military guard instead of S.S.

Prisoners at the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany, as it was liberated by American forces in April 1945., Margaret Bourke-White/Time & Life Pictures – Getty Images // The New York Times,

World leaders gathered at Auschwitz last month to mark the liberation 70 years earlier of the Nazis’ most infamous concentration camp. More ceremonies will follow in coming months to remember the Allied forces’ discovery, in rapid succession, of other Nazi concentration camps at places like Bergen-Belsen that winter and spring of 1945.

Largely lost to history, however, is the cruel reality of what “liberation” actually meant for hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors discovered barely alive in the Nazi camps.

Even after the victorious American and Allied forces took control of the camps, the survivors – mainly Jews, but also small numbers of gays, Roma, Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others – remained for months behind barbed wire and under armed guard in what became known euphemistically as displaced persons, or D.P., camps. Many Jews were left wearing the same notorious striped pajamas that the Nazis first gave them.

With the American forces overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of refugees under their control, underfed survivors lived for months in decrepit camps in Germany and Austria – a number of them on the same grounds as the concentration camps. Even after conditions improved, thousands of former prisoners remained inside and in limbo for as long as five years because the United States and most other nations refused to let them in.

In the early months after the war, thousands of survivors died from disease and malnutrition. Food was so scarce that rioting broke out at some camps, as Allied commanders refused to give extra food rations to Jewish survivors because they did not want to be seen as giving them preferential treatment over German P.O.W.s and other prisoners.

Faced with complaints by outside Jewish groups about conditions of “abject misery,” President Harry S. Truman sent a former immigration official, Earl Harrison, to Europe to inspect the camps. His findings were blistering. The survivors “have been `liberated’ more in a military sense than actually,” Harrison wrote Truman in the summer of 1945.

“As matters now stand,” he wrote, “we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. They are in concentration camps in large numbers under our military guard instead of S.S. troops.”

I ran across Harrison’s report a few years ago while researching a book on the flight of Nazis to the United States after the war. As I examined the path the Nazis took out of Europe, I struggled to understand how so many of them had made it to America so easily while so many Holocaust survivors were left behind.

One answer came in a copy of Gen. George S. Patton’s handwritten journal. In one entry from 1945, Patton, who oversaw the D.P. operations for the United States, seethed after reading Harrison’s findings, which he saw – quite accurately – as an attack on his own command.

“Harrison and his ilk believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews who are lower than animals,” Patton wrote. He complained of how the Jews in one camp, with “no sense of human relationships,” would defecate on the floors and live in filth like lazy “locusts,” and he told of taking his commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, to tour a makeshift synagogue set up to commemorate the holy day of Yom Kippur.

“We entered the synagogue, which was packed with the greatest stinking mass of humanity I have ever seen,” Patton wrote. “Of course, I have seen them since the beginning and marveled that beings alleged to be made in the form of God can look the way they do or act the way they act.”

Other evidence emerged revealing not only Patton’s disdain for the Jews in the camps, but an odd admiration for the Nazi prisoners of war under his watch.

Under Patton, Nazis prisoners were not only bunked at times with Jewish survivors, but were even allowed to hold positions of authority, despite orders from Eisenhower to “de-Nazify” the camps. “Listen,” Patton told one of his officers of the Nazis, “if you need these men, keep them and don’t worry about anything else.”

Following Harrison’s scathing report to Truman, conditions in the camps slowly became more livable, with schools, synagogues and markets sprouting up and fewer restrictions. But malaise set in, as survivors realized they had no place to go.

Hundreds of thousands of war refugees from Eastern Europe – including many top Nazi collaborators – gained entry to the United States in the first few years after the war, but visas were scarce for those left in the camps. Some Washington policy makers were actively opposed to the idea of taking in Holocaust survivors because of lingering anti-Semitism.

At Bergen-Belsen, as many as 12,000 Jewish survivors at a time remained there until the camp was closed in 1951. Menachem Z. Rosensaft was born at the camp in 1948 to two Holocaust survivors. He said in an interview that he believed that the survivors’ hardships after the war had often been overlooked because “it doesn’t neatly fit the story line that we won the war and liberated the camps.”

Mr. Rosensaft, the editor of a new book by Holocaust descendants called “God, Faith and Identity from the Ashes,” added: “Nobody wanted them. They became an inconvenience to the world.”

Joe Sachs, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor who now lives outside Miami, said his three and a half years in a displaced person camp were tolerable. He met his wife there, learned a trade as a dental technician, and, on most days at least, there was enough food for everyone to get a piece of bread or meat.

Compared with the Nazi camps, “it was heaven,” he said. “But of course we felt abandoned,” Mr. Sachs added. “We were treated not quite as human beings. In a camp like that with a few thousand people, the only thing you feel is abnormal.”

The State Department finally approved visas for Mr. Sachs and his wife and their 18-month-old daughter in 1949, just as Holocaust survivors were finally being allowed into the country in large numbers, and they left for New York City.

That, he said, was truly liberating.

[Eric Lichtblau is a Washington correspondent for The New York Times and the author of “The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men.”]

Rest In Peace Ronin Shimizu

Would everybody please remain in a moment of silence to remember of young Ronin Shimizu, 12 year old rower and cheerleader, bullied to suicide on Wednesday, December 3rd

 

On December 3rd, 2014 Ronin Shimizu committed suicide due to bullying at his school because he was the only male cheerleader with the Vista Junior Eagles Cheer Team.

District officials have confirmed that his parents had lodged numerous complaints about this bullying, but that they had been dealt with according to a spokesman.

 

Ronin cheerleadingJoy: Friends said that bullies called him 'gay' for cheerleading but that he loved being part of the teamShock: Some friends say they were stunned he was so unhappy because he always had a smile on his face

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2862375/Boy-12-kills-bullied-cheerleader.html#ixzz3Rza7lw4d
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Will any Northern Ireland Football Club follow York FC in it's anti-homophobia campaign?

When you have read the article below, republished from Gay Star News, I wonder if you will have the same question raised in your mind; namely, will any Northern Ireland football club be as supportive as York FC in it anti-homphobia campaign?  The 2015 Football v Homophobia campaign has launched in Manchester, at the National Football Museum, let us see if it reaches any of our clubs.  Indeed I would open it further and say let us see if it reaches any of our sporting clubs in Northern Ireland, even though the campaign launched is sponsored by the FA.

Club

Ballymena United
Cliftonville
Coleraine
Crusaders
Donegal Celtic
Dungannon Swifts
Glenavon
Glentoran
Linfield
Lisburn Distillery
Newry City
Portadown

Top UK soccer club gives out free tickets to gay fans

York City FC will host a Football v Homophobia match
York City FC is giving out tickets to gay fans.

York City FC is giving out dozens of free tickets to LGBTI fans to fight against homophobia in the soccer.

The northern English city club is giving out 100 tickets for their second Football v Homophobia match on 14 February as part of the Month of Action.

Lou Englefield, director of Pride Sports, said York City FC’s initiative to tackle homophobia and welcome LGBTI people into their club had been fantastic.

He said: ‘They have raised the profile of football within the LGBT community and shown their city that everyone has a place in the game.’

York City join a number of other teams, including Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, and will use the match against Tranmere Rovers to send out the message that football is a sport for everyone, regardless of sexuality, and there is no room for discrimination.

Sophie McGill, York City communications and community director, said: ‘We are once again proud to support the national Football v Homophobia campaign and are committed to tackling discrimination of all forms at York City Football Club.

‘We are actively promoting the message to our supporters that football is for everyone.’

Greg Stephenson, chair of York Pride, said the charity was delighted with the ‘commitment here at our local club, with the players and backroom staff all keen to show that prejudice about someone’s sexuality is just as irrelevant and unwelcome in football as it in every other aspect of our lives.’

The Minstermen will warm up in Football v Homophobia t-shirts while rainbow flags will be presented on the pitch before kick-off by the ball boys and girls.

Before the match and at half-time there will be anti-homophobia PA announcements and the match programme will also feature articles promoting Football v Homophobia and York Pride.

McGill added: ‘Hopefully our continued efforts to address homophobia in football will make a positive difference in York and will lead to more acceptance of gay players and supporters.’

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/top-uk-soccer-club-gives-out-free-tickets-gay-fans020215#sthash.RzZTpln9.dpuf

Northern Ireland gay activists fight bill which could allow gay discrimination

The proposed ‘conscience clause’ would allow people to refuse goods or services to LGBTI people on the grounds of strongly-held religious beliefs
The proposed ‘conscience clause’ would allow people to refuse goods or services to LGBTI people on the grounds of strongly-held religious beliefs

Image via Facebook/The-Rainbow-Project

LGBTI activists are rallying against a new bill proposal which they fear could legitimise anti-gay discrimination in Northern Ireland.

The proposed ‘conscience clause’ is a measure which could allow people to refuse goods or services to gay and lesbian people on the ground of their strongly-held religious beliefs.

An example of this would be the Belfast bakery which refused to bake a gay Bert and Ernie cake. Activists fear if the proposed ‘conscience clause’ was made law, then it would legitimise discriminatory behaviour such as this.

The Private Members’ Bill has been proposed by Paul Givan, a Democratic Unionist Party member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and has been backed by party leader and First Minister, Peter Robinson.

John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project which is a pro-LGBT rights group based in Northern Ireland, hit out against the bill.

‘Mr Givan claims that his bill will allow believers to deny goods and services to LGB people when it ‘promotes or facilitates same sex relations’. Let us explain to Mr Givan what this means,’ said O’Doherty.

‘Restaurants could deny same sex couples a table as this could be facilitating same sex relations. A mortgage provider could deny a mortgage to a same sex couple as it would be facilitating same-sex relations. Hoteliers could deny a room to a same sex couple as it would be facilitating same-sex relations.

‘The examples are countless. Mr Givan clearly has not considered the implications of his license to discriminate legislation. Ensuring LGB people can access goods and services without discrimination is good for business, good for the economy and good for Northern Ireland’s reputation with investors.’

In addition to the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International has also criticized the proposal.

‘What is proposed is not a conscience clause, it is a discrimination clause,’ said Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director.

‘This is not about freedom of religion; this is about treating a section of our population as second-class citizens.

‘This change to the law is not welcome and it is not needed. The law already strikes a fair balance between the human right to freedom of religion and the human right not to suffer discrimination.

‘Northern Ireland’s First Minister should concentrate on eradicating inequalities already faced by members of the LGBTI community here, rather than lending his support to a discriminatory new law.

‘He could start by publishing Stormont’s long overdue sexual orientation strategy, which could help tackle homophobia in Northern Ireland society.’

#NoConscienceClause has already begun trending on social media, facilitated by The Rainbow Project.

Today at 3pm (31 January), there is a planned protest against the bill at Belfast City Hall. There will also be partner protests in Derry-Londonderry and Newry.

Stephen Fry has signed a petition arguing for the dismissal of the bill.

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/northern-ireland-gay-activists-fight-bill-which-could-allow-gay-discrimination310115#sthash.MAMacSvl.dpuf

Irish school 'postpones' anti-gay bullying workshops

Coláiste Eoin The school postponed an anti-homophobic bullying workshop following complaints from parents

A school in Dublin has postponed an anti-homophobic bullying workshop following complaints from parents.

A charity, Shout Out, was due to give the workshop to 120 transition year students (15-16 year olds) on Tuesday.

The workshops were called off after facilitators arrived at Coláiste Eoin and were told about the complaints.

The school, in Stillorgan, said they plan to reschedule the workshops but as of yet have made no contact with the group.

The principal of the all boys school, Finín Máirtín, initially said that the “other side” needed to be represented.

The school later clarified that he meant ‘other view points which have been expressed’.

‘Disappointed’

Shout Out, a lesbian gay bisexual and transgender education charity, deliver workshops about anti homophobic bullying and say they educate pupils about tolerance and respect.

Declan Meehan from Shout Out said they were “disappointed” that the school had cancelled the workshop.

“We’ve been to the school twice before and never had a problem before,” he said.

Jan O'Sullivan

The Irish Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has said she is disappointed that the workshop was postponed

The Irish Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has said she is disappointed that the workshop was postponed

“Our priority is to deliver the workshop and we will accept any invitation to return to the school.”

The school declined to be interviewed but did release a statement.

“On this particular occasion the board of management have received written communications from a number of parents outlining their concerns regarding the workshop,” they said.

“In this context it was incumbent on the board to address all issues and to seek the advice available from Catholic management representative bodies available to secondary schools.

Language and tolerance

“It is proposed to invite Shout Out to make their presentation at a future date in the course of the current academic year.

“Coláiste Eoin is a Catholic school and as such endeavours to promote a caring, tolerant and inclusive school community.”

The Irish Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said she was “disappointed” that the workshops had been postponed.

Ms O’Sullivan said she hopes the school will “reschedule these important workshops in the near future”.

The Shout Out workshops are led by volunteers aged 20-25 who have experience of being an LGBT young person going through school.

A heterosexual person also takes part in the workshop and use of appropriate language and tolerance are discussed.

They have delivered workshops to more than 60 schools over the last 18 months.

A campaign against homophobia will be held during Baku European Games

 

As we know, Baku is hosting First European Games this year. Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance will hold “Compete 4 Equality” campaign during this event. The target group of this campaign is European Parliament, International Olympic Committee, ILGA World and ILGA Europe, Olympic Committees and Ministries of Foreign Affairs of European Council member states, and international organizations working with human rights. Of course, holding this campaign doesn’t mean the cancellation of Baku European Games. The goal is to draw the attention of Europe and the world to the current situation of homophobia and fundamental human and LGBT rights in Azerbaijan, as well as achieving the needed action from the government for improving the current situation in the country. During this campaign, the logo of First European games will be used in rainbow colors in order to achieve the main goal.

The main goal of our first stage is to bring attention to the positive message of our “Compete 4 Equality!” campaign in local and international public spheres. We will hold support campaigns in front of Azerbaijan embassies around the world. Local LGBT organizations and individuals from anywhere can take a photo with the rainbow flag, our slogan “Compete 4 Equality!” and the Azerbaijan embassy in the background and send them to nefeslgbt.az@gmail.com.

We need cooperation with all of which have interests in this campaign totally. Please join us and help support us and the LGBT community in Azerbaijan. Be the intermediary to spread the positive message of our campaign.

10913633 1038103689540551 56682449 n

Click the Pink Compete for Equality to be taken the site and VOTE YES!!

Javid(Atilla) Nabiyev

President of Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance

tel | +994553407008

e-mail | nefeslgbt.az@gmail.com

facepage | facebook.com/nefeslgbt

twitter | @LGBT_Azerbaycan

web | lgbtaz.org/

Meet the Russian who would have bee Mary Whitehouse's bed-fellow

Shades of Mary Whitehouse and her moral indignation come to mind when I read this article.

Constance Mary Whitehouse, CBE (née Hutcheson, 13 June 1910 – 23 November 2001) was an English social activist known for her strong opposition to social liberalism and the mainstream British media, both of which she accused of encouraging a more permissive society. She was the founder and first president of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, through which she led a longstanding campaign against the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). A staunch social conservative, she was disparagingly termed a reactionary by her socially liberal opponents. Her motivation derived from her traditional Christian beliefs, her aversion to the rapid social and political changes in British society of the 1960s and her work as a teacher of sex education.

 

Now ‘Meet the Russian who has had over 30 teachers fired for being gay’

 Pictures of teachers hugging loved ones is being sent to officials in order to have them fired for ‘immoral behavior’
Timur Isaev: Persecuting LGBTI teachers in Russia.

A music teacher who worked with disabled children in St Petersburg was fired for being gay this month, the latest in a long line of educators who have become victims of Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law.

Anastasia (not her real name) was called into the principal’s office on 8 December. She was told that pictures of her hugging her girlfriend had been forwarded to the school and a demand she be fired for ‘immoral behavior’.

The pictures and demand was also sent to local government officials.

‘You belong with gay people,’ the teacher was told. ‘You are not allowed to work with children.’

This was another ‘win’ for Timur Isaev, a man who boasts he has had over 30 teachers fired for being gay.

Among his other victims include Ilya Kolmanovsky, an award-winning biology teacher at a top public school, who was fired in January.

‘I have been fired from the school where I worked for seven years,’ he wrote on Facebook.

‘My opponents found about me and my school and sent complaints to the administration, and on Monday the principal told me he is firing me to save the school.’

‘I don’t blame the principal,’ he added. ‘He knows better who is dealing with.’

Isaev does not hide the fact he is helping teachers get fired. On his VK page, it reads: ‘Russia – It’s hell for gays, let them get used to it!’

‘If people are unhealthy and have psychiatric abnormalities such as being a lesbian, then it is clear the law states they are unacceptable for doing this type of work,’ he says.

‘Homosexuality is not normal,’ he told Meduza. ‘It is a disease that is treated with hormone therapy.’

He is now working to fire other teachers, making sure no other LGBTI person ‘influences’ a child.

The nationwide ‘gay propaganda’ law was enforced in Russia in June 2013.

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/meet-russian-who-has-had-over-30-teachers-fired-being-gay261214#sthash.9eithlYN.dpuf

‘Cursed by God’: Far-right activist claims Liverpool FC punished for backing gay rights

Are you a football supporter; are you gay; do you agree or disagree with Paul Rimmer’s statement?  Read the article and then let us know!

A far-right English Democrats activist has claimed Premier League football team Liverpool FC had performed less well last season because they openly ‘promoted’ homosexuality.

Former UKIP candidate Paul Rimmer came under fire on Tuesday for posting comments on social media about the football club’s alleged support of homosexuality.

Rimmer, who was previously an activist for the British National Party (BNP), posted quotes from the Bible accompanied by a damning report of Liverpool’s recent performances, saying they would not improve unless they “repented.

“From the Bible, Sodomy defiles a Nation. Those who promote it will be punished & vomited out of the Land. Lev.18.23. In 2012 Liverpool FC sponsored the City’s Gay Pride Parade. Unless they repent they will be under a continual curse,” the post read.

This was followed by a comment about the unacceptability of homosexuality.

“Everyone knows homosexuality is wrong, but now we have to pretend it’s nice & normal and anyone who points out it’s a perversion is evil. This is a deep moral & spiritual sickness in our nation,” he added.

His other social media posts include criticism of the BBC for being “totally unpatriotic, anti-Christian & anti-white,” worshipping “sodomy & blackness” and pushing “pro-Moslem propaganda.”

Paul Rimmer (Image from liveraf.wordpress.com)

Paul Rimmer (Image from liveraf.wordpress.com)

He has further labeled feminists who criticized his remarks as “feminazis.”

UKIP described Rimmer’s comments as “idiotic” while Liverpool FC Supporters’ Committee LGBT representative Paul Amman called Rimmer “inaccurate.”

Amman said he was proud of the work the club had achieved to reduce homophobic discrimination.

The club has got a proud record of tackling discrimination and fighting inequality and has done some fantastic work,” he said.

“LFC has never sponsored Liverpool Pride but has marched at the event for three years in succession. Members of the women’s team, staff, club officials, supporters, ambassadors and directors have taken part, showing their support and recognizing the wider LFC family.”

He clarified that having an active LGBT Supporters group does not hinder the sporting prowess of a top Premiership club.

“Also, Manchester City has a lively LGBT Supporters group called Canal Street Blues, which hasn’t stopped them from topping the table,” he added.

Rimmer, who gained a degree in politics from Cambridge University, defended his statements, telling the Liverpool Echo they were not his opinions, but the word of God.

“Basically it says in the Bible that certain forms of behavior go against the laws of God and therefore God will react to them and he will curse those who willfully disobey him.”

“I am only repeating what is said in the Bible – it’s not my opinion, it’s what the Bible says.”

“It’s just to make people aware God has a law and if you infringe this law there will be consequences,” he said.

“If people get upset by this it’s up to them. Christ calls on us to repent and believe.” he added.

Rimmer was arrested in 2012 while challenging a rainbow flag hung at Toxteth police station in Liverpool.

 

Republished from RT – Question More

Egyptian TV crew criticised over police raid on Cairo bath house

At least 25 men arrested in raid, in latest example of crackdown on gay community and of collaboration between media and state
Men relaxing at a steam room or hammam in Cairo
Men relaxing at a steam room or hammam in Cairo Photograph: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

A year-long crackdown on Egypt’s gay community continued this week with the arrest of at least 25 men at a bathhouse in central Cairo in a sting operation apparently initiated by a television crew.

The men were dragged half-naked into police trucks in the late night raid, which was filmed by a private television crew headed by presenter Mona Iraqi.

Iraqi and her colleagues later claimed on Facebook and in a YouTube video that they had led the police to the bathhouse on the unsubstantiated suspicion that its customers were a potential source of Aids.

“Watch the bold Mona Iraqi reveal in a series of investigative episodes the secret behind the spreading of Aids in Egypt,” stated a trailer for their programme, which was presented as a journalistic scoop and a tie-in with World Aids Day.

“For the first time in the history of Egyptian and Arabic media, we lead the morality police to storm the biggest den for male group sex in the heart of Cairo.”

Iraqi posted pictures of the raid on her Facebook page, including one of herself filming the men on a smartphone. She accompanied the photos with a since-deleted blogpost, explaining that her crew had “managed to make a filmed investigation to prove incidents of group perversion and record the confessions of the owners of this den”.

Her words largely attracted condemnation. “You see the picture of you filming with your phone?” replied Hossam Bahgat, a journalist and former head of a prominent rights group. “Your picture will be spread for years to come with every article, investigation or book on the collapse of Egyptian media ethics.”

The raid was the latest example of a crackdown on homosexuality and of collaboration between Egypt’s media and government. In November,eight men were jailed after being accused of taking part in a marriage-like ceremony on the river Nile. This year, there have been a number ofraids on private properties, street arrests targeting Egypt’s LGBT community and a surge in homophobic media coverage of gay life in Egypt.

Scott Long, the author of widely cited research on earlier crackdowns, wrote on Monday: “I hadn’t believed tensions around sexuality and gender could rise higher in Egypt. But they have. A brutal campaign of arrests continues, and the media incitement steadily intensifies.”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, but it is a social taboo and allegedly gay men have historically often been arrested on charges of immorality. In the largest case,

52 allegedly gay men were seized from a floating disco on the Nile in 2001 and charged with immorality.

Activists speculate that the recent rise in arrests is linked to the government’s desire to prove that it can be as socially conservative as the Muslim Brotherhood, which was ousted from power in July 2013.

Independent newspapers and channels have largely become cheerleaders for Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s administration, with the editors of some of Egypt’s leading publications joining forces last month to jointly reject criticism of the army, police and judiciary.

• Additional reporting by Manu Abdo

Still fighting for equality: So So Gay speaks to Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners

We have yet to hear anything negative about Pride, 2014’s UK film highlight. Tracking the fascinating real-life friendship forged between a Welsh mining community and a group of London-based LGB activists at the height of the strikes, the film has struck a chord with audiences worldwide. We were keen to find out a little more about what has become of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners in the years that have passed, so caught up for a chat with Martin Goodsell and Brett Haran, the group’s treasurers and founder members of LGSM.

So So Gay: Hi, how are you both today?

LGSM: We’re both very well, thank you. Thanks for asking us about our involvement in LGSM. We know there’s lots of interest in the group following the huge success of Pride.

What have you been doing with yourselves in the 30 years since the events depicted inPride?

Quite a lot of things, as you can imagine, over such a long period of time. We’ve continued to be involved in various political campaigns over the years. In addition to our campaigning work, we both became dads to two delightful kids: a daughter, now 29, and a son, now 23. They’re both really proud and fascinated by what their dads and their comrades were involved in all those years ago.

lgsmSo how do you feel about the positive response to the film?

We think it’s been fantastic. The reviews have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic; many people have said they can’t remember the last time they found a film so moving, uplifting, joyous and life affirming. It really seems to have struck a chord, with many people saying there was spontaneous applause at the end of the film.

Do you feel it’s an accurate portrayal of events?

Well, the film is obviously not a documentary. It’s a dramatised account that’s aiming to get the story and its key message across to as wide an audience as possible. Some elements of the film have been fictionalised for dramatic effect, but the essential story as depicted in the film is very definitely an accurate portrayal.

Before the film came out, many of us felt that the amazing story of the coming together of our two communities – LGBT and the miners – could so easily have been forgotten. The film has ensured this is no longer the case and that’s very gratifying. It’s an important part of working class and LGBT history. As a direct result of LGSM’s involvement in the strike, the National Union of Mineworkers supported a motion which secured the Labour Party’s formal manifesto commitment to lesbian and gay equality – which led to significant advances for LGBT rights in the UK when Labour finally returned to power in the late 90s.

This includes the equalisation of the age of consent, outlawing discrimination against LGBT people in employment and the provision of goods and services, the inclusion of homophobia in the definition of hate crimes, repealing Section 28 and the introduction of civil partnerships, which paved the way for marriage equality.

To what extent do you feel the gay rights movement has become less political?

As a community we’ve achieved many goals over the last 30 years – we’ve just mentioned some of the key achievements in terms of equalities legislation. Because of these successes there’s a danger in thinking that the politics has gone and it’s now more about lifestyle. But there are plenty of stories in the press and online that show us that violence and discrimination against LGBT people – including homophobic bullying in schools – are still depressingly common and need to be confronted. We can’t be complacent and need to continue to support and defend the rights of LGBT people at home and abroad. In political terms, we’re still the target of abuse and hostility from those on the far right including Ukip. This must be challenged and exposed for the naked bigotry that it is. Thankfully, there are still plenty of people, LGBT and straight, who are committed to tackling these issues, through grass roots campaigns, community organisations and the trade unions.

Are you still in touch with any of the miners or their families?

We’ve seen Sian James on a couple of occasions over the last few years, but it was only at the premiere of the film Pride that we caught up again with many of our old friends from the Welsh mining communities.

What do you consider the greatest political challenges for the trade union movement and the LGBT community in 2014?

The biggest challenge for the trade union movement is the continuing fight against the government’s austerity measures, with cuts in public services and attacks on welfare. Some of the poorest and most vulnerable people are bearing the brunt of these measures. It’s very much an ‘us and them’, ‘divide and rule’ agenda. Just like 30 years ago during the miners’ strike, people are being scapegoated. The trade unions must continue to stand up for these people and give them a voice.

It’s important for us in the LGBT community to show solidarity with communities coming under attack. The gains we have made as LGBT people have come about when we have made common cause with others who have been fighting for their rights. The message of the Pridefilm demonstrates this perfectly.

lgsm-3-1-publicity-copy-of-a3-poster-pits-and-pervertsLGSM has regrouped. How has that been for you?

It’s been an incredibly emotional and inspirational experience. We had kept in touch with many of our old LGSM friends over the last 30 years but through the film and the regrouping of LGSM, we’ve also met friends and comrades again that we hadn’t seen for almost 30 years.

What does the future hold for the group?

It’s exciting how much energy and commitment there is for getting involved in new campaigns around LGBT issues and wider solidarity campaigns. There’s been an incredible amount of interest in LGSM generated by the film and not only in the UK but around the world.

We are planning to go back down to Dulais in March 2015 to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the strike. We can’t wait to see if Jonathan will be able to match the dancing skills of his film counterpart when we find ourselves once again in the Onllwyn miners’ welfare hall! We are also looking to have a high profile presence at London Pride 2015, to mark the historic 30th anniversary of the miners and their families leading the Pride march in a show of solidarity with the LGBT community.

 

So So Gay readers can purchase a Pits & Perverts t-shirt, as sown in the film, directly from Martin by email at martin2003brasil@yahoo.co.uk. All proceeds go to supporting the campaigning work of LGSM. You can also follow LGSM on Twitter: (@LGSMpride)