Croydon Area Gay Society
In the early 1970s, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality was attracting large numbers of members, and forming them into local groups where appropriate. There was a general rule that a single group ought not to have more than 30 or 40 members, so when a particular city had more than this number, additional groups were formed. Within London, the individual groups were numbered, and new members were assigned to them without reference to geographical location. In 1971, Andy, a young gay man living in South Norwood, visited one of the London groups and decided to start something locally. The new group was recognised as London Group Seven, but unlike the other groups had a particular geographical focus and was soon renamed "Croydon CHE Group". Its first Chair was Wallace Grevatt, who later became a member of the CHE National Executive.
A major activity of the early days was the Star Discos (held at the Star in London Road, West Croydon, now the Broad Green Tavern) which raised money for establishing a Gay Centre in Croydon. Several thousand pounds were raised, but this was never quite enough to form the Gay Centre.
In the 1980s, a very controversial decision was made by CHE to separate off the local groups and concentrate on national campaigning. Croydon CHE Group therefore had to become an independent society, called Croydon Area Lesbian and Gay Society (CALGS). However this name was unpopular with some members, considering that "gay" encompassed both men and women. The group was therefore re-named Croydon Area Gay Society (CAGS) following the example of groups such as WAGS (Wimbledon), KRAGS (Kingston and Richmond) and GAGS (Guildford).
CAGS provided financial support for Parents Together.
Since 1977, there has been an active Tennis Group, playing every week of the year. At one time badminton was also played.
For much of its history, CAGS has operated mainly as a social group, with events such as coffee evenings and wine and cheese parties in members' homes. Additionally it now provides open meetings every other month, under the name "The Brief Encounter", originally in the Brief public house in central Croydon. It has also given rise to Silver Rainbow, a group for older lesbians and gay men, meeting for lunch once a fortnight.
CAGS is a member of SLAGO and takes an active part in SLAGO activities.
Although primarily a social group, CAGS also undertakes campaigns for time to time.
In 2003–04, as part of the campaign for the introduction of civil partnerships, CAGS members staged a number of re-enactments of the adelphopoiesis ceremenonies, used in certain parts of the Christian church in former centuries to unite two men as "brothers".
Official website http://www.cags.org.uk
- Hall-Carpenter Archives (to 2014)
- Croydon Museum and Archive Service (2015 onwards)
- Amiable Warriors Volume One, page 437.
- Out of the Shadows, Chapter 6
- Amiable Warriors Volume One, pages 441–443