Mark Ashton

Brought up in Portrush Mark Ashton[1] moved to London in 1978 and pioneered gay rights activism during the 1980s. He was the co-founder of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) during the miners’ strikes of 1984 and was also heavily involved in politics, becoming the general secretary of the Young Communist League. He was described as a “firecracker of a human being”[2] and sadly died at 26 due to a HIV/AIDS-related illness, but since, his work has been commemorated in many charities, a movie featuring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Andrew Scott. The film, released in 2014, stars Ben Schnetzer as Mark Ashton and has won many international awards. His name has also been honoured on a blue plaque in London, a garden in Paris, numerous charities and a song which reached no. 28 on the British Charts called ‘For a Friend’ by the Communards.

[1]Diarmaid Kelliher, “Solidarity and sexuality: Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners 1984–5” in Oxford Journals (2014) vol. lxxvii (1) pp. 240-262, at pp. 1-2, 6.
[2] Jamie Doward, “The real-life triumphs of the gay communist behind hit movie Pride” in The Guardian, (21 September 2014).