This paper will investigate, analyse and comment upon the various layers of performance in Pride. An intertextual discursive approach, which will encompass the film Pride itself, contemporary historical footage and critical reception, will be used to address how multiple examples and definitions of performance combine within and outside of the film text to create meaning and encourage activism. Two performance theories will be applied.
Firstly, the work by philosopher and linguist, J.L. Austin, defined certain utterances as ‘performative’ (for example “I do” spoken during a wedding ceremony) because in saying what the person is doing, they perform that action. Secondly, Erving Goffman’s research into the centrality of performance traditions in everyday social life remains influential nearly sixty years after it was first published. Applying these two theories to Pride allows the complex layers of performance in the film to develop.
As a result, this paper will focus on certain themes: performative activism where gay pride marches and the miners’ strikes are reconstructed and, therefore, commemorated; musical performance and how it is used to create solidarity and a sense of community; and performative identity related to lesbian and gay identity (of which the performative process of ‘coming out’ is a part). The discussion will conclude that in these ways, through performative acts, the film is ‘showing’ an audience what political protest and acceptance ‘looks like’ and how it should be promoted.