On this day 30 years ago Mark Ashton, co-founder of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, died of an AIDS-related illness.
Although I was a member of LGSM I can’t say I really knew Mark very well. So I’m commemorating the anniversary of his death with three different responses from those who did.
The first is a brief extract from an interview with Mike Jackson, with whom Mark co-founded LGSM:
“I first met Mark when I applied to be a volunteer for Lesbian and Gay Switchboard. I was interviewed by Mark and another man. Mark starts asking me what knowledge I have of the London gay scene and I realize after a while that there’s a bit of flirting going on here. At one point I just leaned forward and said, ‘Is that question relevant to the interview?’ at which point he giggled.
Mark resigned from Switchboard about two weeks before I started. He’d written this amazing three-page critique in the internal log of some of the more liberal-bourgeois approaches Switchboard had. He also totally graffitied the religious file – it was covered in hammers and sickles and ‘Religion is the opium of the masses.’ [Laughs.] That was typical of Mark. Although at the same time this dear man would occasionally go to church. He himself had a lot of contradictions.”
(Interview from Walking After Midnight: Gay Men’s Life Stories, Hall Carpenter Archives, 1989)
The second reflection on Mark takes a musical form. Jimmy Somerville was also a close friend of Mark’s. At the time of his death he was a member of the Communards and wrote this song, For a Friend, in response. It speaks for itself:
And the third is the Mark Ashton Red Ribbon Fund, established by a number of his friends. Thirty years on, this continues to support the work of the Terrence Higgins Trust, Britains oldest HIV/AIDS charity. To find out how you can donate, click here to go to the Fund’s page.