Che’s all-London Congress could, depending on your standpoint, be regarded as a success. Quite a few ideas were aired, there was none of the tension that has sometimes characterized previous mass meetings. The platform had been wreathed with flowers. Maybe thats why. About 200 people turned up and sat in grave rows in the Holborn Assembly Rooms. Gavin chaired alone, deciding (rightly) we could do without a line of glum celebrities flanking him.
Most of the time was spent discussing the Che club. The establishment of a nation-wide series of non-profit making, well equipped clubs for homosexual men and women is one of Che’s prime aims. It looks as though it is up to London Che to do it being bigger and therefore richer (though not necessarily wiser) than the provincial groups.
The treasurer told us early that the Building Fund now stood at £449.96. A great deal of discussion ensued about priorities – that is, should this club start right off as a sort of C.O.C. enterprise, or was the acquisition of a small permanent office more important just now? David Bell claimed that the Che club would “be the one thing that Che is known for the world over”. Gavin decided it was not very rewarding to look to Europe where things were different and had been so for some lime.
A few lone voices expressed doubt about the wisdom of apparently competing with existing gay clubs, and someone else told us to avoid the church hall syndrome since members wouldn’t come to meetings.
However, this wasn’t exactly supported as the entire meeting heavily agreed that they would attend Che meetings no matter where they were held. The temperature rose just before half time when one guy, obviously cheesed off with the debating stood up and threw a 50p piece on the floor and bullied everyone to do the same. His idea was action now and to hell with the chat. His enthusiasm was partly infectious as that little episode added an instant £70.86 to the Building Fund.
There was some inconclusive chat about Che’s central London groups and the growing number of local ones. We heard that gramophone enthusiasts, poetry-lovers, drama-buffs, car rally maniacs, musical souls, sporting types were now being catered for by a series of groups set up to pursue these hobbies. There was to be a choir as well, and a sports club. And a dining club.
The assembly was intended to provide an opportunity for members to sound off about Che, to criticize and make suggestions. So the larger part of time was spent, inevitably, on internal topics. But the meeting was opened and closed by discussion of more general and more relevant topic. Immediately the dynamic Jacquie Forster of Sappho harrangued the meeting about male-domination of Che. “Do you spend any time at all thinking about Lesbians?” she cried, “equality must mean more girls in Che”. And we agreed. There was, she added, no evidence of any campaigning activities. And why not? The IT case was touched upon, but briefly with a reminder that a great many people had written letters to all sorts of publications and indeed, that week Che had scored highly with letters published.
Altogether the meeting produced a tremendous feeling of unity, enthusiasm and confidence that in London Che is doing the right thing and beginning to do it rather well.