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Siân James goes on a Life Journey with S4C


Siân James goes on a Life Journey with S4C

In the last episode of the Taith Bywyd (Life Journey) series on S4C, Siân James meets the people who changed her life and those who influenced her career.

Former Member of Parliament and campaigner Siân James has been on a journey to revisit locations she visited during the miners’ strike campaign, locations also used as part of the film Pride that told the story. The programme, presented by Owain Williams, follows Sián on her journey as she revisits the Electric Ballroom in London, the location of the ‘Pits and Perverts‘ event by the organization Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, in December 1984.

It was a concert to raise money for the families affected by the strike. Here, she reunites with Jonathan Blake, one of the original members of the LGSM who was a central part of establishing this special relationship between the miners and the gay community and who has become Siân’s lifelong friend.

Siân James:

“When you are under attack, you look for other people who are under attack and learn from those groups what life has been like, and how they have pushed back and dealt with unfairness.”

During the strike, the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners managed to raise around £20,000 – a sum of around £80,000 today. After raising the money, a group from the LGSM visited the Dulais Valley and Jonathan can remember feeling the uncertainty about the welcome that would await them:

“We were really nervous – what were we doing here? Was this crazy? And I remember we walked in and there was silence…And somebody started clapping, and the whole room applauded. It was just amazing. And it was like we were home. We just felt we were welcomed with open arms; It was quite extraordinary. It’s not what any of us expected.”

“What were the similarities between all of us?” … We all hated Margaret Thatcher!”

Visiting the Electric Ballroom with Jonathan and Siân was an emotional moment for presenter Owain Williams too:

“I’m Welsh and I’m also a gay man – and I’m so proud to be those two things…They’ve shown me that those two things can live together in me. And when those parts come together, that’s where the strength is to be yourself. That’s the example they both set for people like me.”

In the programme, Siân will receive a special award to recognize her lifetime contribution to the LGBTQ+ community. And S4C will also see another side to her – her interest in sewing. She’s attended workshops at the Little Stitchery in Ystradgynlais for 6 years, creating clothes similar to those worn by characters from Jane Austen’s novels.

Siân calls herself an ‘Austenite’ and travels around Britain and Europe to Austen events and takes part in parades wearing these grand clothes. After a lifetime of campaigning and looking after other people, Siân has learned something by going to these workshops:

“What I’ve learned is that this is my time, it’s nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with work. The Siân who wants to be quiet, the Siân who wants to learn, the Siân who wants to follow, not lead. Because here, I can follow.”

Previous episodes of the series with football manager Osian Roberts, broadcaster Jason Mohammad, influencer and presenter Jess Davies and guitarist Peredur ap Gwynedd are available to watch on S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer.

Taith Bywyd (Life Journey) will be shown on S4C at 9 pm on Sunday 11 February.

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