A Potted History of Gay Groups in Hastings
1974 - Hastings CHE (Campaign for Homosexual Equality) formed and we produced a monthly newsletter, CHASTE. The group was formally recognised at a National Council Meeting of CHE. These were held three times a year (quarterly) and an annual conference was held at the fourth quarter. Our group was always represented.
- Hastings CHE disco held in Icklesham Village Hall. The first of its kind in Sussex run by a voluntary gay group. It was ’bring a bottle’ and a buffet was provided in the entry price.
1982 - In June Hastings CHE had the honour of hosting National Council of CHE, at which the organisation was radically changed. There was a reception at Brants Health Food Restaurant in the High Street on the Friday evening, and at least 10 people stayed at my flat that weekend. On the Saturday the all day Council was held in the Unemployment Advice Centre, Middle Street and in the evening there was a sell-out disco in St Clements Caves, Hastings.
- ‘The 1066 Gay Community’ was formed. I still remained a member of CHE.
1985 - A Gay Caring Group was formed as a sub-group of 1066 GCO.
1987 - ‘Hastings Befrienders’ was formed (now the Hastings & Rother Gay Helpline) & it still continues every Wednesday evening 7 pm to 9pm on 07941 014 013. For a short time during the nineties a small band of Lesbians ran a Lesbian Line one night a week using our line.
1999 - Hastings & Rother Gay & Lesbian Social group was formed.
2002 - Hastings Voluntary Action (HVA) were invited to a meeting of the group to discuss the lack of service provision for Gays & Lesbians in Hastings.This led to several meetings facilitated by HVA & to the formation of the Rainbow Alliance in 2003.
2009 - Public launch of Gay Helpline’s Hate Crime Reporting Service.
2010 - First IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) celebration held in Hastings hosted by the Helpline.
2012 - Social Group dissolved by the members in early May.
2012 - Helpline hosts monthly social and information meetings for the over 50’s in Hastings & St Leonards
Special memories include the wonderful discos we held at Icklesham, in Hastings Caves, & on at least two occasions we drank their bar dry, & the many friends I met at CHE National Councils, Conferences & during my time on the National Executive of CHE, helping to found HARASS (Hastings & Rother AIDS Support Group) and appearing on Southern Counties Radio in a discussion programme on AIDS in the mid 80’s. Looking back those were pioneering days.
Both the Helpline and the Social Group are members of Hastings Voluntary Action and members continue to play an active part in voluntary organisations in the town.
Roger Sweetman (updated May 2012 from my archives)