On This Gay Day: Activist Mark Ashton died in 1987

Remembering Mark Ashton

Mark Ashton was only 27 years old when he died in 1987, but he’s been remembered in many different ways.

After his passing British band The Communards wrote the ballad For a Friend. The activist from Northern Ireland had been a close friend of band members Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles.

Greek filmmaker Constantine Giannaris dedicated his film Jean Genet is Dead to Ashton.

In 2018, 31 years after his passing, a garden in Paris was renamed to honour Mark Ashton, and a year earlier, on what would have been his 57th birthday, a blue plaque was hung above the bookshop where Ashton and his friends met to organise their political rallies.

Many people came to know about his life through the 2014 film Pride, where actor Ben Schnetzer portrayed a significant part of his life.

In 1984, alongside his friend Mike Jackson, he formed Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.

At the 1984 Pride parade in London the group collected money to help support miners who were struggling in Britain’s long running coal workers strike.

The unexpected collaboration between the LGBTIQ+ community and striking miners saw a significant amount of money being raised. The London group teamed up with Miners from two areas of Wales. Soon there were multiple LGBTIQ+ groups across Britain supporting the miners strike.

On the 10th December 1984 a fundraising concert referred to as the ‘Pits and Perverts’ concert was held to raise funds for the cause with British band Bronski Beat headlining.

Later Ashton became a member of Red Wedge and was the General Secretary of The Young Communist League of Britain.

Mark Ashton died of an AIDS related illness in 1987.

Whitney Houston

Also on this day: Whitney Houston passed away

Singer Whitney Houston died on this day in 2012. She remains one of the highest selling artists of all-time. During her career Houston sold over 200 million records.

The singer had a turbulent marriage with singer Bobby Brown, the couple married in 1992 and divorced five years later. Prior to marrying Brown, Houston had been romantically linked to singer Jermaine Jackson and actor Eddie Murphy.

During her life the singer was often rumoured to be in a secret same-sex relationship with close friend Robyn Crawford. In 2019 Crawford confirmed that the pair had been in a physical relationship when they were teenagers, and their friendship had endured after their relationship ended.

Houston recorded seven albums, as well as the soundtrack to the film The Bodyguard which she starred in. It’s the highest selling soundtrack of all time.

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen died in 2010

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen died on this day in 2010. The acclaimed designer founded his iconic label in 1992, as well as designing collection for the house of Givenchy. McQueen was known for his bold design, shocking catwalk presentation and provocative clothing.

Lee Alexander McQueen, grew up in working class surroundings in Stratford, London. From an early aged he expressed his desire to become a fashion designer. He has said that he knew he was gay from when he was 6 years old, and he came out to his family when he was 18.

At 16 he received an apprenticeship working with a Saville Row Tailor, picking up the skills of making impeccably tailored clothes.  After spending time working in Italy for Romeo Gigli, McQueen returned to London and enrolled at Central St Martins College of Art and Design.

His entire final year collection was bought by influential fashion lover Isabella Blow. The fashion writer bought the entire collection for £5,000, paying off McQueen in installments of £100 a week. Blow has been credited with encouraging McQueen to use him middle name professionally.

During his career McQueen created iconic outfits for artists including David Bowie and Bjork. His runway shows were acclaimed for their theatricality and provocative style.

McQueen committed suicide in 2010, shortly after his mother’s death from cancer.

Image: Mark Ashton photographed by Johnny Orr, published under a Creative Commons 4.0 License.
This post was first published in 2020. 

Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 and www.beyondblue.org.au

QLife: 1800 184 527 and www.qlife.org.au
QLife are a counselling and referral service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.

Love OUTinPerth Campaign

Help support the publication of OUTinPerth by contributing to our
GoFundMe campaign.

Tags: , ,

You must be logged in to post a comment Login