It’s 1984 and the National Union of Mineworkers is striking. Margaret Thatcher won’t budge.
On June 30th, Joe (George MacKay) gets a camera from his parents for his birthday. He goes out and inadvertently becomes part of a Gay Pride March. Mike (Joseph Gilgun) asks Joe for help in carrying a banner, but Joe would prefer to not be too visible. Mark (Ben Schnetzer) passes out buckets to the people marching so everyone can start collecting donations for the out of work striking miners. Joe ducks out of the parade and watches from the side lines. A woman comes up and tells him that she finds the gays to be disgusting. Joe changes his mind and joins the group again.
After the march, at a party at a London gay book store, Mark forms L.G.S.M. (Lesbians and Gays Supporting Miners). It’ll be a grass root effort because right now the police aren’t bullying the gays because they’re busy bullying the strikers. Mark knows it’s only a matter of time until they’re the target again. There isn’t much of a difference between the miners and the gays. Bookstore owner, Geth (Andrew Scott) asks if he and his partner Jonathan (Dominic West) can join the group too. Jonathan is very jaded and not overly interested in joining the cause. Only one lesbian named Steph (Faye Marsay) joins.
L.G.S.M. raises a respectable amount of money, but they can’t get the Labour Union to agree to take it, so they decide to call the mining towns directly. The small Welsh town of Onllwyn answers and accepts. They send a rep, Dai (Paddy Considine) to collect. While in London, Dai agrees to go to a gay nightclub to thank everyone. Dai opens with a joke and wins over the crowd. He also tells them that they gave his people in Wales something more than money, they gave friendship. This wins over Jonathan. Other lesbians join the group too, but immediately start trying to convince Steph to leave and form a Lesbian only support group.
Traditionally when people would donate money to the mining towns, the mining towns would welcome the group to thank them. There’s a debate whether or not the town wants to welcome the LGSM because they’re not ready to open their doors to gays. Sian (Jessica Gunning), a volunteer asks what the problem is. The LGSM raised more money than any other group.
Back in London, the LGSM boards what Jonathan calls the “Deviant Bus” and heads to South Wales. Joe lies to his parents and tells them his college is sending him to study different pastry kitchens. Geth stays behind to run the bookstore, but is glad that Jonathan is on board and participating. In Onllwyn, people keep taking down signs welcoming the LGSM.
The town matriarch Hefina (Imelda Staunton) welcomes the group. Most of the town committee reluctantly welcomes the LGSM too, but Maureen (Lisa Palfrey) remains a hold out. Mark is invited to speak to the lodge where the town people gather and tries to open with a joke just like Dai did. It doesn’t go over well.
The next day Cliff (Bill Nighy) gives the LGSM a tour of the area. Miners are getting arrested for picketing and Jonathan educates the town on how that’s illegal. He breaks down the law for everyone and it’s Sian who goes to the police station and gets all the protesting miners out of jail.
That night it’s another party at the lodge. Everyone mingles. The town people ask cutely innocent questions like when two guys live together as husband and wife, who does the housework? Maureen still doesn’t want to participate because she says she’s afraid of AIDS. Jonathan gets everyone to unite and have a great time through a big disco dance number. Seeing that the ladies love a man who can dance and have fun, a couple of the miners ask him for dance lessons.
The LGSM heads back to London. When they drop off Joe, they give him a pastry so he can keep the lie going with his family. He tells his mom that the trip was the best experience of his life. She questions, “Making pastries?” They watch television and there’s a PSA about AIDS, which his dad calls “Anally Injected Death Sentence”.
It’s winter. The strike has been going on for 42 weeks. The van that takes the miners to protest has broken down. Hefina calls Jonathan to thank him for his Christmas Card (which is raunchy and silly). Spirits are down because Margaret Thatcher has decided to starve out the miners and shut off their gas so the winter will be unbearable. The LGSM goes back to Wales to deliver more donations. Mark makes a speech and tells everyone that the LGSM let them down and he’s going to do something huge. Cliff talks about how he lost his brother in the mines. Everyone sings a rally song and vows “victory to the miners”! Maureen’s sons crash the gathering and are thrown out.
Geth is grateful to be in Wales (where he’s originally from) and not have to hide who he is. It’s been 16 years since he was last there because he mother couldn’t accept him. Hefina urges him to go see her. Cliff invites Maureen to join the group, but as it looks like she might just come around, townfolk yell at her. They hate her as much as she hates the gays.
Geth visits his mum. Maureen calls the newspaper and gives them the story about the miners accepting help from “perverts”. Joe arrives him and finds out he’s been suspending from college. The newspaper runs a story “Perverts Support the Pits”. The Union votes to stop accepting help from the LGSM. Someone throws a brick and fireworks through Geth’s bookshop window.
Mark decided to spin this bad publicity into something good. He throws the Perverts and Pits Benefit Ball and it’s a huge success. During the show, Joe’s mom and sister discover his newspaper clipping and photographs archiving his life with the LGSM. The townfolk come to London for the P & P Benefit Concert. The miners that Jonathan taught how to dance pick up on some girls. Joe gets his first kiss from a boy. Tim (Russell Tovey) bumps into Mark and tells him he’s on his farewell tour and to take care of himself because life is short.
The ladies from Onllwyn end up going to a gay leather bar and later, while staying with Jonathan and Geth find a dildo and some porno magazines. They’re delighted. Also that night, Steph ends up kissing one of the ladies after a quick discussion about feminism.
Joe goes home and finds out his family knows what he’s been doing. His mom tells him he’s too young to know what he wants and a gay lifestyle is a lonely lifestyle because if he lives it, he won’t have his family.
There’s supposed to be a Union Meeting at 3pm to discuss further involvement with the LGSM, but Maureen gets the meeting moved up to noon, and everyone misses it while driving back from London. Cliff tries to speak on behalf the LGSM, but has a hard time speaking in public. Sian’s husband tries to speak as well, but also has a difficult time. Afterwards, Maureen and Cliff argue and we find out that she was married to his brother who died in the mines. He tells her this isn’t what his brother would have wanted. Sian gives the Union leaders the money the LGSM raised from their benefit show. It’s thousands and thousands of dollars. It’s a selfless act of generosity, but it doesn’t change a thing.
Mike asks what now since the Union voted to not have any more support from the LGSM. Mark tells him to piss off because it’s over. Geth keeps trying to raise money for the miners anyway, but now even the other gay people are mad because right now they need support with the onset of AIDS. Geth gets jumped. Steph goes to Joe’s home to tell him about Geth, but his mom answers the door and doesn’t give Joe the message.
Cliff confides in Hefina that he’s gay. She says she knows. He asks how long she’s known, since the LGSM arrived? She said she’s known since about 1968. Hefina offers to drive the miners to picket in the van they bought with the money from the benefit concert.
March 4th, 1985. The strike has been going on for almost a year, but now it’s over. The miners lost. Joe goes to watch a Miner March. He runs into Mark who tells him to have some pride in who he is because life is short. Sian tells him about Geth being in the hospital.
Joe and Sian visit Geth in the hospital. Geth asks Sian to look after Jonathan because he’s HIV positive and doesn’t take care of himself. Geth’s mom visits him as well. Outside, Jonathan tells Sian now that the strike is over she should keep doing stuff because she’s smart. He was one of the first people in London to be diagnosed HIV positive. Sian drops Joe off at home during his sister’s kid’s Christening. She’s driving the LGSM van. Joe’s mom freaks and Sian tells her that she hopes one day she learns to appreciate her son because there’s an entire town in Wales that thinks he’s a hero. Joe leaves home and finds Steph to have a drink. She tells him that she’s thinking about reinventing herself as demure and accommodating, sort of a lesbian Lady Di. Joe tells her he likes who she is.
June 29th, it’s Gay Pride London. Everyone is at the bookstore making banners for the parade. Mark shows up and apologizes, especially to Mike, for acting like a dick. The LGSM shows up to march and are told by the people in charge that political banners are not allowed. The lesbian group shows up as well. They all decided it doesn’t matter if they march with or without the banners, what matters is that they all march together. The town folk show up as well to march in support of their gay friends. In fact bus after bus of people from different mining communities show up. The support is so overwhelming that the miners and end leading the march…with the banners. Mike asks Joe if this time he’s going to be worried about being visible.
In title cards we learn that Sian goes to college and ends up being one of the first women elected into Parliament.
Jonathan was one of the first people to be diagnosed HIV positive in London and recently celebrated his 65th birthday.
Mark continued to fight for causes until he died of AIDS in 1987 shortly after being diagnosed. He was only 26 years old.
The Labour Party passed an amendment to recognize gay rights within the Union.
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