THE DAY I MET DAI DONOVAN.BY STEVEN BENSON.

{Dai Donovan was the miner who liaised most with  the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners(LGSM) Group during their financial and emotional support to the 1984 Miners’ Strike; he was from the Dulais Valley lodge, near Abertawe/Swansea. In the film, “Pride”, about this at-first(seemingly)unlikely rapprochement between the two groups,he is played by Paddy Considine. But I met- in what felt like a strange uptipping of reality versus representation of reality(the film is pretty faithful to the true story)- the REAL, the ACTUAL Dai Donovan!}.

It was the late summer/early autumn of 2015, 31 yrs after the Miners’ Strike: the University of Liverpol Students’ Guild building; Dai appeared with Mike Jackson( one of the gay men most active in the campaign) in an event organized, I think, by the Student Guild lgbt+ Society.

It was an odd morning; Starbucks in the Student Guild was full of busy young people. I was 55; their average age 19/20.I was outside my comfort zone and plagued by existential angst and memory (of my student days in Aberystwyth, where I was, mainly, in the closet); time boundaries,disturbingly, slightly slipped. These were uneasy soundings; my history was hitting back against itself, an unresponsive wall of memory and denial.

One of the Organisers of the event was welcoming, which helped. Mike Jackson and a second(about my age, perhaps a little older) guy arrived; the latter soon sauntered towards me (probably because I was the sole audience member above about 25!) and spent some ten minutes talking to me. It was Dai Donovan, who is, movingly, in “Pride” portrayed as the miner who most convinces his colleagues of the validity of their cause, both groups (lesbians and gays, as we were then reduced to) and the striking, starving miners: BOTH of us attacked by Thatcher (police brutality to the miners, police cottaging entrapment, frightening local authorities into not mentioning homosexuality in Section 28); he saw that and convinced his friends. As in the film, Dai Donovan seemed one of the kindest, nicest people you could ever meet. I mean, I do not really know him: we are talking 10 minutes here! But he exhibited, in his practise and manner, how we CAN build bridges between and across communities-positive intersectionalities-communities that may, at first, seem(and sometimes actually not BE) commensurate; in this case, the machismo of some of the miners led to initial difficulties, which Dai and others resolved; this historical event shewed how people can treat people they might, initially, see as different/other from themselves, as HUMANS; we have much to learn from it yet(sadly). He and Mike Jackson had an easy chemistry and banter.

Dai and I talked about:
Swansea (where I  had worked, just before the Miners Strike, in 1983);

I told him how I had a vague memory(never wholly convinced it wasn’t a false one, implanted by the recent “Pride” film, but I think it is true) of being on the 1985 “Pride” march in London(definitely true) and then, vaguer/mistier, seeing a lot of coaches arrive and wondering whom they were {the miners turned out, wholesale,and poignantly, at the 1985 Gay Pride March, just after the NUM had got the Labour Party to include l and g rights in their Manifesto/policies(I have the original manifesto, with introduction by Tony Benn)};

Jeremy Corbyn(he had just been elected Labour Leader),who Dai said was involved on the edges of LGSM (also stated on net sources); and our hopes for  this new, principled, statesmanlike figure from the soft left, who spoke to many people (including myself as a gay man). Dai had met my hero! Dai spoke openly and freely,with no hang-ups at meeting a gay man!I felt disconcerted, however; having seen the representation of Dai and the rest of the “players” (film) before the REALITY, I had a vague, uncanny sense.

The formal bit of the event was inspiring; but it is, principally,Dai I remember, representing,as he did, openness, DIALOGUE, solidarity and unity. It feels even more poignant, a few months later,as I contemplate Corbyn and feel the vituperation and sheer nastiness heaped on him, as he becomes (some) people’s “other”(therefore to be feared); as he walks yet another tightrope of putting together a reshuffle, which won’t alienate the “Moderate/centre/right” of the Labour Party but also won’t disillusion his core electors (or perhaps he just will not care and give up on people who he has tried his very hardest to work with, ie create a cabinet containing more of his supporters).{JC has a 95% voting record PRO lgbt rights; he constantly raises this as a human rights issue; he also offers a similar, obviously more largescale, intersectional coming together of disparate groups, who, ultimately, share much more more than divides them: poverty, housing needs etc etc.; hence the link across the 30 years Jeremy has been an MP}. It is a (rainbow:)) alliance of hope: that people like Dai Donovan and Jeremy Corbyn were building in the 80s (70s in Corbyn’s case: his support for attacks on the embryo London Gay Centre).

 

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Anyway- with rhizomes into Corbynland-that was the transformative  day I met Dai Donovan…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)
This entry was posted in "Pride", a la recherche Benjamin gay queer archive assembalge, alterity, gay, gay affirmative writing, intersectionality, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners(LGSM), life mirrors art, Miners Strike, other, psychogeography, queer, Queer wrting, safety for marginalised groups, Section 28 protest traces memory reportage, Self-actualisation, SPECTRAL PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY, uncanny other, Uncategorized, Utopia, working outside hegemonies. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to THE DAY I MET DAI DONOVAN.BY STEVEN BENSON.

  1. decayetude says:

    Thx, Gill; that, and seeing Corbyn elected were highlights of 2016:).xx

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