LGBT+ History Month: Remembering Mark Ashton

As part of LGBT+ History Month, we remember the tragically short life of Mark Ashton, 36 years on from his death.

Born in Oldham in 1960, Mark moved with his family to Portrush in the north of Ireland before moving to London in 1978.

Mark volunteered on London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard, providing help and information to London's gay community, particularly in the aftermath of the 1967 partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in the UK. During his time in London, Mark also joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Young Communist League (YCL), where he later became general secretary.

In 1984, Mark co-founded Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners, alongside Mike Jackson, after they collected donations for the striking miners at the 1984 Lesbian & Gay Pride march in London. This story was adapted to the big screen for the 2014 movie Pride, which introduced Mark’s incredible contribution to the labour movement and advancement of LGBT+ rights to a new and modern audience.

Tragically, Mark was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS on 30 January 1987 and died just 12 days later, aged 26.

Today, 36 years on from his passing, we continue to remember his legacy of solidarity in the class struggle, where he helped build an important bridge between the struggles faced by LGBT+ people and striking workers, both of whom faced unimaginable repression and attacks from Thatcher’s Conservative government.