The Glasgow University LGBTQ+ Students’ Association (GULGBTQ+) and the Queen Margaret Union organised the event around the movie ‘Pride’ and its support of LGBTQ+ people.
The Glasgow University LGBTQ+ Students’ Association (GULGBTQ+) and the Queen Margaret Union jointly hosted a panel discussion and a screening of the film Pride on 26 February in the QMU as part of a series of events for this year’s LGBTQ+ History Month.
Pride is an award-winning British film released in 2014. It is based on the true story of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) alliance, founded by a group of LGBTQ+ youths in London who campaigned in solidarity with the strike of the National Union of Mineworkers between 1984 and 1985, raising £22,500 in support of the workers. The LGSM group and the mineworkers forged a robust alliance. Members of the Union participated in the 1985 Pride March in London, and in the same year a block vote of the National Union of Mineworkers was fundamental to integrate the commitment to supporting LGBTQ+ rights in the Labour Party’s manifesto.
A major theme of the film is the importance of grassroots activism in the historical advancement of the LGBTQ+ community in the UK. In the panel, this aspect was discussed along the commercialisation of the modern Pride movement.
Emily Barton, GULGBTQ+ vice president and treasurer, said the main risk of Pride marketisation is tokenism.
“Brands can buy their way in regardless of whether they are LGBT friendly or not. It is good that we have become more visible and powerful enough that people want to associate with us, but I think it is unfortunate that we are used as a sort of marketing technique,” Barton said.
During the panel discussion, student representatives from GULGBTQ+ and the QMU addressed the historical significance of Pride marches and their ongoing relevance from both their personal and socio-political perspectives.
GULGBTQ+ Postgraduate and Mature Student Officer and panellist Kelly Macarthur said: “It is important for small and big activist groups to make more noise than the marketisation that Pride has become. It started as a protest and it is still a protest. People need to remember that.”
Along with grassroots activism, another important theme of the film is the importance of building solidarity and allyships between different groups who suffer from similar forms of oppression, like LGBTQ+ people and workers on strike under Thatcherism.
“Straight and gay people, cis and trans people, everyone together: we need to work together to make things better for all of us,” said panellist Eirinn-Rose McWilliams, who is also a member of the QMU Campaigns and Charity Committee.
On the importance of holding such informational events and discussions, Barton said: “I think visibility and learning are very important. Some people are not bigoted, just uneducated. We should always try to give them the possibility to learn and do better.”