The purpose of the Halifax Gay Group (HAGG) is to provide an environment for gay men to socialise. It gives an opportunity for people to meet like-minded individuals in surroundings where they can feel comfortable and at ease.
It all started in 1975!
Three people met at Mike Stocks’ house. They were called Mike, of course, Max and Tony. They were all members of C.H.E. in Bradford and wanted to start up a similar group. This was as much for the people of the Calder Valley as for those of Halifax. In those days there was very little in the way of groups for gay people and people did not have as much access to their own transport. It was felt that Bradford was a long way to travel and that a Halifax group would make life easier.
The group decided that it would meet once a fortnight and would meet in Mike’s house at St. John’s Lane, Halifax. This was a convenient venue, being close to the town centre and with good access to both trains and buses. However, the site chosen was not without its disadvantages. The house suffered homophobic attacks. Twice there were attacks by air gun pellets and two bricks came through the windows on separate occasions!
The group prospered and grew
In spite of these difficulties, the group prospered and grew. It became too big to meet at Mike’s house and had to progress to larger Halifax premises. First it went to Harrison House and then to the Liberal Party Rooms on Clare Road, where it remained for many years, until the property was sold. It had a period of meeting at Jim’s Café at Hebden Bridge, until it finally came to its present venue.
From the beginning, the group went to ‘the pub’ after its meetings and this became an important part of a group night out. The first pub was the longest lasting. The group all went to ‘The Old Cock’. Wednesday night at The Old Cock became very busy and the Savile Bar would be quite crowded on that night as gays came, from not only Calderdale, but Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield too. But when The Old Cock closed, the group had to find another venue and in turn it went to W.C.’s, Heath’s, Bar11, and finally to Dusk till Dawn.
Trips, hikes and Gay Pride
In earlier days, the group did not confine itself to Wednesday evening meetings. There were also other events. There were trips to Blackpool and to Nottingham, trips to Oldham and caravan trips to Dent. There were also walks and hikes as well. And one year, the national Gay Pride march was held in Huddersfield; of course the group was represented. Later on, after twenty-one years of meeting, the group had a float at Gay Pride in Manchester. The group had come of age!
So, to the present day!
The group still meets every Wednesday evening and starts at 8:00pm with coffee and chatting. At 8:15pm there is a planned activity, which is usually light-hearted, such as a quiz or a game, but there are also discussions and slide shows. It all depends on what has been planned at the Planning Meeting, which is held about once every two months. Here the members of the group decide for themselves what is going to happen for the next series of meetings. It is very much a case of what happens on group nights depends entirely on what people want to do.
Afterwards, going to a local pub at about 9:30pm is still very much a part of Wednesday evenings. It is a good night out in the middle of the week, with a great bunch of people. It has been quite a source of many friendships over the years. Long may it continue to welcome new members!