The roles of Nottingham CHE
One might expect that people contacting the Campaign for Homosexual Equality would be interested in campaigning. In fact, the vast majority of contacts were from people who needed to socialise and who latched on to CHE as a possible means to that end.
Today, Nottingham has one gay club, several bars for gay men and lesbians, once-a-month discos, various social groups, support groups, special interest groups and helplines. In early 1971, there were a couple of bars made known by word of mouth and nothing more. By 1972 you could add a club and the CHE group.
Nottingham, however, was relatively well provided for compared with most areas of the country. The total lack of facilities over great swaths of the UK was demonstrated when people travelled to Nottingham CHE group meetings from Derby, Mansfield, Loughborough, Leicester, Leeds, Sheffield, Northampton, Lincoln and Scunthorpe.
People often became aware of CHE by accident and then kept the information for a long time before using it.
I was walking with my dog and saw an old Derby Evening Telegraph flying around. I picked it up to put in the bin and, lo and behold, I saw an advert to join CHE. I took the wet paper home, dried it out, kept looking at it for a week or two and then rang the number.
It became clear that many of the people contacting CHE had problems. Some were very isolated, some were finding it hard to come to terms with their sexuality and some were being victimised and harassed because of their sexuality.Others made contact to gain information about homosexuality in general or what CHE could do. Enquiries of this type came from the Samaritans, Women’s Groups, Universities and Colleges, the Probation Service etc.
The result of this was that the local CHE felt obliged to function on four levels: