About this Archive
Launched in September 1971 and running for 24 issues until the end of 1973, the magazine Lunch, initially conceived as the in-house magazine for CHE, welcomed contributions from members and non-members alike. Within six months it was on sale in bookshops and newspaper kiosks. Its independent stance was tested with Issue 5, which included an article highly critical of CHE’s structure, campaigning and membership, provoking a furious response from the organisation's London Co-ordinating Committee.
As a result, the Committee demanded that the magazine never publish similar dissenting voices again. Editor Gini Stevens would give no such assurance, and in Issue 7 published two summaries, pro- and anti-CHE. After this there was no more editorial interference.
By early 1972 Lunch had ambitions to be a national (and not just London-centric) journal. Lunch also improved its look over time, from having a thick sawdust-like cover to semi-gloss by Issue 9, and growing from 14 to 40 pages at its peak.
The main feature of each issue was an interview with a ‘celebrity’ – something no previous gay magazine had achieved. People interviewed included George Melly, Maureen Duffy, David Hockney, Jimmy Savile and Quentin Crisp. Lunch also featured personal stories such as coming-out stories and heart-rending testimonies about medical ‘treatment’, a regular column devoted to women’s issues and, for a time, a comic Agony Aunt called Sister George. Regular features also included discussions of CHE concerns of the day, including alcoholism among gay men and lesbians, housing, ideas for a gay employment agency (and even for a CHE sauna!) and gay marriage and legal protection against discrimination generally.
By June 1973, however, Lunch’s readership was down and the new Gay News was establishing itself as the national gay magazine. Over the 30 months of its existence, however, Lunch created much of the template which later lesbian and gay magazines would emulate. It remains the only record which survives of some key events – such as the first CHE visit to Speakers’ Corner (25 June 1972) – and was the place where arguments were played out about gay identity and values, about what being homosexual meant and how it could be expressed.
For more information see: Peter Scott Presland, Amiable Warriors: A History of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and Its Times: Volume 1: A Space to Breathe 1954–1973(Paradise Press, 2015)