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Solidarity Forever: 40 Years of LGSM

13 May 2024

Saturday 6 July 2024, 11am to 4:30pm • Tickets £10/£20 •

LGSM collection items and the speakers for the event

People’s History Museum is hosting a special event to mark the 40th anniversary of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM); an organisation founded on solidarity that would play a unique role in the events of the 1984 to 1985 Miners’ Strike.  Taking place on Saturday 6 July, Solidarity Forever: 40 Years of LGSM will feature speakers who were part of the historical events, the LGSM archives and the chance to see some LGSM objects for the first time since they’ve been a part of PHM’s collection.

The first steps in the creation of LGSM came after Mark Ashton (born in Oldham) and Mike Jackson (born in Accrington) attended a talk by a striking miner, which made such an impression that they subsequently organised a strike fund collection at Gay Pride in June 1984.  LGSM was officially formed a month later and would continue to fundraise for mining communities throughout the Miners’ Strike (1984-1985).  Historically the London bookshop Gays the Word has been a focal point, but there were branches of LGSM in Manchester, Dublin, Glasgow and other towns and cities. Beyond class solidarity, both communities were united in the vilification they faced and there were also personal connections, such as the fact that LGSM member Jonathan Blake’s mother was from Neath in Wales.

The focal point of the event at People’s History Museum will be when Jonathan Blake, a renowned HIV activist and campaigner as well as LGSM member, and former MP Sian James join PHM’s Collections Assistant Jaime Starr in conversation.  This will take place in PHM’s Engine Hall and will explore the solidarity between the LGBTQIA+ community and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), as well as discussing key moments within the organisation’s history, including the iconic Pits and Perverts fundraising gig that was held in Camden’s Electric Ballroom.  There will also be reflections about how these seemingly different communities developed an understanding and were able to work towards a common goal despite a political agenda that was seeking to divide and conquer.  Instead you’ll hear about lasting bonds of friendship, how the mining community responded to Mark Ashton’s death and the commitment miners made to opposing Section 28 legislation.

This is a chapter of history that’s so compelling it was made into the film Pride (2014) and copies of the accompanying book will be available to purchase at the event.  Attendees will also be able to take part in a special visit to PHM’s archives, where the LGSM collection is held, having been donated to the museum in 1991.  Materials include the minutes of the first LGSM meeting, correspondence and a range of publicity material from fundraising events.

Going on display at People’s History Museum for the first time, and only for this special event, will be a photographic exhibition that was made by LGSM for London Gay Pride in 1985.  Presenting on the exterior as a simple black suitcase, it is actually a custom-made travelling exhibition that LGSM members shipped around the UK to tell their story as a fundraising effort to pay jailed miners legal fees.  It’s an extraordinary, poignant and powerful object, which attendees will have the opportunity to view as part of the event.

Attendees are also encouraged to explore PHM’s galleries including the 2024 Banner Exhibition, which features a number of banners linked to the mining industry and the Collection Spotlight case, which highlights the role of women in the Miners’ Strike (1984-1985) and includes material from LGSM, Lesbians Against Pit Closures and Women Against Pit Closures.

Speaker biographies
Jonathan Blake is an LGSM member and HIV activist who has lived with the virus for almost 42 years.  He was born in Birmingham in 1949 and was working as an actor in 1982 when he first contracted the virus.  In 1983 Jonathan met Nigel Young and together they joined LGSM.  He designed the original LGSM badge and retrained as a tailor before medically retiring in 1996 and starting anti retro-viral therapy in 1997.  Jonathan volunteered at various HIV drop in centres.  Globally outed as HIV positive at the end of the film Pride, Jonathan returned to acting and has featured in Patrick Cash’s HIV Monologues (2017) and Positive (2021).

Sian James is the former MP for Swansea East representing the constituency from 2005 to 2015.  Raised in the Welsh speaking, mining communities of the Swansea Valley she began her political journey during the 1984 to 1985  Miners’ Strike.  As a young mother and the wife of a striking miner, Sian witnessed first hand the attacks on mining communities, a story which featured in the film Pride.  Sian’s interest in Welsh politics and community action has never gone away.  She remains an active member of the Labour Party and UNISON.  She is particularly interested in promoting community activism and the rights of women and children.

Tickets for Solidarity Forever: 40 Years of LGSM are £20 (£10 for students) and bookable in advance here.  The event is suitable for ages 16+ (under 18s must have an accompanying adult).  You can read more about LGSM in PHM’s latest blog What was LGSM?, which is written by Jaime Starr.

 

People’s History Museum’s opening hours are 10.00am to 5.00pm, every day except Tuesdays.  Museum entry is free, with most visitors donating £10. To find out about visiting PHM, its full exhibitions and events programme visit phm.org.uk and you can keep up to date with the latest news by signing up to receive PHM’s e-newsletter.

ENDS

 

For further information, to arrange a visit or interview please contact Fido PR:
laura.sullivan@fidopr.co.uk / clare.short@fidopr.co.uk

Images: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/cu9qo6ciluxctn4lij139/ANtePOSnJxHKcCEuiHjBl5U?rlkey=q3xwfe2l45c6974e4ev256woe&st=l014slxj&dl=0

 

Solidarity Forever: 40 Years of LGSM event overview
Archive open day
11.00am to 1.00pm and 3.15pm to 4.30pm in PHM’s Archive & Study Centre

Photographic exhibition
11.00am to 1.00pm and 3.00pm to 4.30pm in the Coal Store

In conversation with Jonathan Blake and Sian James
1.45pm to 3.00pm in the Engine Hall

 

PHM spokespeople:

Jenny Mabbott, Head of Collections & Engagement
Jenny is responsible for overseeing the exhibitions and public events programme at PHM, as well as the museum’s extensive collection and archive.  She can talk about the LGSM collection and its significance.

Jaime Starr, Collections Assistant
Jaime is an oral historian with a focus on 20th century LGBTQIA+ community activism in the UK and Ireland. They will be leading the ‘in conversation’ aspect of PHM’s LGSM event and are able to talk about LGSM’s collection and the stories that it represents.

Prior to joining PHM’s Collection’s team earlier this year, Jaime’s work has included recording LGSM member Jonathan Blake’s life story for archive and the Giz A Job project documenting oral histories of the 1981 People’s March for Jobs.

Notes to editors:

About People’s History Museum
People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the UK’s national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future.  Through an eclectic and colourful mix of historic and contemporary collections, featuring banners, badges, posters, photography and more, the museum celebrates the radical stories of people coming together to champion ideas worth fighting for.

Offering an engaging programme of exhibitions and events, collaborating with communities to create authentic content, the museum is Family Friendly throughout – inspiring the next generation to be active citizens.

People’s History Museum encourages visitors to be empowered by the past to make a change for the future.  We are all together in the fight for a fairer world.

About Arts Council England (ACE)
PHM is an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation (NPO).  The work of PHM is supported using public funding by ACE, the national development agency for creativity and culture.  ACE have set out their strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 they want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences.  From 2023 to 2026 they will invest over £467million of public money from government and an estimated £250million from The National Lottery each year to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

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