Transformation from CHE to GLF 1971
Nick talks about the political and physical transition from CHE into the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in the early 70s.
"Before we moved to the Peace Centre, our first place in Birmingham was the Quakers Meeting House, we met there for nearly two years. The Quakers were very liberal and they were terrific to us, we weren’t able to change them in any way but they were very interested in civil rights issues. So they would liaise with us on civil rights issues, then when we went to the Peace Centre civil rights were no longer an issue, it was about claiming our rights, sod the rest of you”. From CHE to Quakers to GLF, it was a political transition from something fairly conservative to something very liberal. We had links with the Trade Union Movement in Birmingham, particularly with the T&G, Nursing and Education."
GLF meeting structures
Nick talks about how GLF was anarchic.
“Each meeting was a new event, each meeting recreated its own agenda and its own way of dealing with things. It took an enormous amount of time every meeting. The reasoning behind this was to be completely non hierarchical. The Peace Centre had connections with anarchists and many of us had also brushed with anarchism at various times, and so it meant it was actually worth this terrible pain that two thirds of the meeting was actually lost, because it was so important to create the conditions before you started.
"Each meeting started off by you sitting down together and then things started, and then you had to somehow negotiate an agenda, there was also the bureaucratic bit. There was the health group, the Gay Education Group, a group dealing with churches, which all had their agendas and had sub meetings and had to bring this back to the main meeting. All this stuff was going on which made it quite difficult to deal with all these things."
Attendances at the GLF Meetings
“The Birmingham GLF meetings would attract a few dozen people or sometimes as many as 30. The Peace Centre room was small so people sat around everywhere. There was a mixture of the sexes and there was a prominent women’s group who made a great impression on things. There was the third gender of male to female transsexuals and whenever they were at the meetings the agenda was theirs. The meetings ran for up to 4 years. Membership of the group fluctuated. There was a central core of two dozen members made of mixed ages including 2 or 3 people who were retired”.
Contributed by: Nick Stanley, 63