Wednesday, 1 October 2014

'Pride'-a catalyst?

'Pride'-a catalyst?

I recently went to see the film 'Pride' which is based on events in the mid 1980s when a group of Gay activists (LGSM) decided to raise money to help support the striking miners. Despite encountering reluctance from the miners they make contact with a small mining village in South Wales. The film explores the relational dynamics within the group, within the mining community and between the two as the village and then the wider mining community (generally) overcome their prejudice, eventually reciprocating the solidarity shown to them by the Lesbian and Gay community in London. I went to see the film in Leicester Square where at the end there was spontaneous applause. Afterwards I had a look on social media to see what other people thought of the film and someone had posted that it made them feel nostalgic for a time they hadn't known. While in no way wanting to question this person's experience or self diagnosis I wonder if they were really experiencing 'nostalgia'. Nostalgia is a looking back to something that 'was', it can easily be impotent. My own experience watching the film was that it evoked a sense of yearning; for community, for solidarity, for hope, for being able to live with a sense of purpose and in a way that makes a difference. These are the life experiences that we should all yearn for, what 'Pride' did so effectively was remind us of that.
Mark Fisher in his book 'Ghosts of my Life' (1) writes about how we can be 'haunted' by a sense of what was, but also of what could have been, of lost possibilities and futures (2). This sense of being haunted and of alienation from, and frustration with, the lived present as so much less than we hoped for is something many of us experience but it is not something we should allow to dominate our thinking , emotions or view of what is possible. Rather this sense of 'hauntedness' should act as a catalyst propelling us into attempting to construct the sorts of community, relationships and positive activity that we feel the lack of.
I suspect that is why 'Pride' has been such a powerful and inspiring film for people, it has reminded them of what is really important, of the value of what they are similarly experiencing or the need to find/build what they are missing. Our response to it should not be a sigh but a grateful recognition that it has rekindled the desire to experience the quality of communal, purposeful life, with all its up and downs, represented in the film.
Each of us has to choose between replicating Bryan Adam's (dreadful) song 'Summer of '69' elevating the past as a 'golden age' or finding ways of transposing those feeling of hope and yearning that 'Pride' evoked into constructive action.

(1) Fisher, M. (2014), 'Ghosts of my Life. Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures' Zero Books, Winchester.

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