Platform Wreathed With Flowers

03-197207XX-03Che’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.

Your Letters

01-197205XX 5Dear Gay News,

Absolutely delighted to hear about Gay News! Please find enclosed subscription for 10 issues and accept all my good wishes for the success of the paper.

I haven’t much news to give you at the moment, none worth printing anyway as I am at present trying to get the group organised. Things are a bit quiet in this “respectable” seaside town and any leafletting, campaigning, etc., has to be done by myself at the moment, if you’ll forgive the cliche it’s like trying to swim through porridge!! To give you an example of the social atmosphere you might be interested to know that when the local Odeon showed “Sunday Bloody Sunday” there were loud gasps when Murray Head went to bed with Peter Finch, about half a dozen people walked out! Incredible, isn’t it’?

I intend to make enquiries at the library this weekend as to their stocks of books regarding homosexuality and whether I can put some leaflets and a CHE poster on their noticeboard keep your fingers crossed!

Anyway, if I do have any interesting news you can be sure I will send it on for your consideration, in the meanwhile good luck to Gay News.

Love, Brian Hart.
Folkstone

 

Dear Gay News,

Sorry! I do not really feel like helping with Gay News. I do agree that “it is high time that we had reliable and entertaining news and information for the four million or so homosexuals in this country”. But I do think that it is high time that such information, news, etc., was part of the ordinary press.

Yours sincerely, Tim Beaumont
(Lord Beaumont of Whitley)

 

Dear Gay News,

Just to wish you luck with Gay News and share the tension for new ventures. So I enclose a Sappho magazine and wondered if we could have an exchange deal. What I mean is instead of subscribing to each other just send our copies to each other.

Please let me know if you think this is an idea worth following.

Yours sincerely, Mrs. Jacqueline Forster
Editor

 

Dear Friends,

………………….We wish you every success with the Herculean task you have set yourselves.

Willy Snippe
Foreign Committee of C.O.C.

 

Dear Mr. Seligman,

Thank you for your letter. But I cannot honestly say that I like the idea of Gay News. I am against making homosexuals into a group on their own. The whole point is that they are just human beings like anyone else, and to as it went publicise them can do them no good and can in certain circumstances do them harm.

You must realise, as I am sure you do, that there is still a strong prejudice – and indeed always will be – against the homosexual, and to try and make something special out of them can only re-arouse the slowly dying hatreds which persist.

Do not please regard this as in any way a hostile letter. If I were hostile towards homosexuals I would not have introduced my bill. It is just that I am not in agreement with you over the tactics required to improve their sociological and spiritual position.

Sincerely,
Arran

We may not have much in Hemel Hempstead folks, but we’ve got a real live earl!

Earl of Arran of the Evening News