Glasgow SHRG Gay Club, Queen's Crescent,
THE FIRST gay movement club in Britain is forging ahead with an optimism that should be a lesson to campaigners in other parts of the country.The Glasgow club - even without a drinks licence is proving a big attraction for the city’s gay comunity: and the organizers, confident that they will soon be selling alcohol, are looking forward to its becoming even more popular.
The £56,000 needed to open the club’s doors was raised mainly from a brewery and a bank, with individual donations anti loans making tip the remainder.
The three-storey listed building, which dates from about 1840, is part of a crescent looking out onto a square. It has a preservation order on it because of its architectural interest.
It was vacated by the shrinking Seafort highlanders Regimental Club when they decided the premises were too large for their declining membership. Since then it has been gutted a rid, with help of volunteer labour, work has begun on giving the interior a new lease ot lile.
On the ground floor a colour television lounge arid coffee bar provides a quieter, more relaxed atmossphere for those wishing to avoid the noise of the disco on the first floor .
The top floor is presently a flat earning useful rent for the club until it is ready to expand furt her.
Les Mitchell, convenor of the Glasgow branch of the Scott ish Homosexual Rights Group and chair of the club managment committee, said ‘‘ The decision to open the club was taken a year ago last June
“We found the premises in January and the the sale was completed in March. We then had to work out projected Finance and draw up plans and designs. The p lace had to he gutted."
The main problem was cash. John Duffy, treasurer of the branchand the club, explained: "Three years ago we Had a £6,500 loan from the Clydes dale bank for the Gay Centre in Sauchiehall StreeT. They proved to be good friends, so obviously we went back to them.
“After long negotiations they giive us a loan of £26 000 and the facility of £3,000 working capital. Hand in hand with this went negotiations with Lorrimer‘s Brewery now Ind Coope who loaned us £22 000.
"The difference was made up by about 30 members and friends. I was quite happy at the number of people that believed in us."
The club committee expects to be breaking even by the end ol this year, with any surplus beng ploughed back into the club.
When more money is available they intend to modernize the museum-like cloakroom and toilets and open a second bar.
Les said: ‘‘We have about 200 mmembers which, consideriing we havenot got a licence, is quite encouraging. It’s the only Britvic house in the country, as far as I know!"
They went to the Sheriffs [sic] Court, Glasgow, for registration as a club which brings with it a drinks licence for pLub hours.
Les: “There were objections from the Chief Constable on the grounds of the club’s constitution, but the police helped with advice so that all their objections were taken care of before the case was heard,
"The local residents association complained about the association of homosexuals with bad behaviour of all kinds, but this objection was ruled out of order on legal grounds.
"Our next-door neighbours, the Scottish National Institution for the War Blinded, objected on general moral grounsa and that their blind clients would be particularly at risk but all objections were suitably dealt with.
“We are still awaiting the outcome of the hearing, which should be announced betore the end of the month?’
They are happy they had a fair hearing in court rt at the end of July, though surprised it was not reported by any newspapers.
The opening ceremony was attended by two reporters troun the Scottish Daily R Record who, , members felt, were looking for scandal, but only a few lines were printed.
The club has enjoyed the support of Neil Carmichael MP (Labour, Kel vinside), in whose constituency it falls, as well as local councillors.
One problem that the opening of the club has thrown up is the future of the Glasgow Gay Centre. With attention and activity switching to the new premises, the SHRG branch now has to decide how best to use the other building.
The Centre houses the branch office, the Glasgow Gay Advisory Service, speaker meetings and twice- weekly discos. They foresee the Centre being made available to specialist groups for their use.
It was essential to keep the Centre open because the new club only caters for people over 18, said Les. So the Centre may be more generally used for young people those who don’t wish to go to licensed premises and groups such as transvestites and transsexuals.
The city’s gay community also suffers from a growing split between the sexes, and few women so far have been using the club, It could be that Glasgow’s gay women will wish to make greater use of the Gay Centre.
The people who have succeeded in launching the club feel an understandable pride in their achievement and often refer gloatingly to other areas where such a scheme is much talked about but never produced.
The SHRG Glasgow Branch Club to give it its full title is at 4 Queen’s Cresent, Glasgow G4. Entrance costs £1 for members and £1.50 for guests. Membership of the branch and thie club costs £10. Discos are held from 9pm to 2am on Thursday nights and 9pm to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.