The National Federation of Homophile Organisations was born on 30th October 1971. The insemination took place 15 months previously at York University during July 1970. This slow gestation period reflects the changes in attitude and heart of its founder members (SMG, CHE, St. Catherines, womens’ groups) as much as the turtle’s pace which NFHO has tended to move since October, 1971. The Meeting in Catford on Saturday 1O June, 1972 – thanks Tony Cross of INTEGROUP – was to formulate planning and financial policies for the year ahead. 2O people representing most of the structured homosexual organisations in the U.K. attended.
Sadly we began too formally. This imposed a deadness on the proceedings which proved hard to lift, though one or two tried. Quite a few of us were strangers and didn’t really know who was representing what. The rest, (the old guard), were glad of the rare chance to socialise and exchange gossip. We needed no introductions having been active in structured homosexual society since its beginnings in the 1960’s. Wise old cheshire cats we are, delighted and yet bewildered at the great growth and diversification in the gay world since GLF shattered the silence late in 1970.
There was agreement on limited non-controversial topics. Michael Butler’s suggestion of a residential weekend conference 2-3 September at St. Catherine’s on the subject of “Befriending”, was enthusiastically received. We also decided, though less cheerfully, to seek NFHO offices (rented) in principle, which would also house a CHE office, Albany Trust, Albany Society Limited, and A’3. Group meetings would also take place there. “GAY NEWS” was also discussed at some length. The idea of the newspaper as an “official organ” of the National Federation was rejected, but a strong plea was made that individuals should write in to the paper because the quality of the paper depends on the strength of the articles it receives.
NFHO’s best function will be as an organisation for information collation and exchange. It will be best equipped to talk directly with the large Foundations and organisations such as the National Council of Social Service, Marriage Guidance Council, Home Office, D.E.S. However, overshadowing everything is the nagging realisation that NFHO is an extra financial committment for its member organisations.
Anthony Grey urged everyone to think big in cash terms, otherwise the gay movement would never finance itself.