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The Brief Encounter was a series of talks organised by Croydon Area Gay Society, normally every other month, from September 2008 to February 2017. They were originally at the pub called "The Brief", hence the name. As of March 2017 the talks are being replaced by the Croydon Monthly Meetings, held once a month on a Tuesday.

Previous speakers

Tue 7 Feb 2017 Peter Scott-Presland and Andrew Lumsden

Our two speakers will be talking about the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which began the process of decriminalising gay sex. Part of CAGS's celebration of LGBT History Month.

Tue 15 Nov 2016 Cari Mitchell

From the English Collective of Prostitutes, an articulate proponent for the law to recognise the right of women sex workers to practice in safety. For more details, see our press release at

Tue 20 Sep 2016 David Ledain
Cover of Gay Dad book

David Ledain is a writer and publisher. He has put together the anthology Gay Dad (published June 2016, £8.99): ten true stories of divorced gay men with kids living in Britain today. David will be talking about the book and how he came to write and publish it, and will have copies for sale. Meeting open to all, no charge.

Tue 19 Jul 2016 Mansel Stimpson
Mansel Stimpson

Mansel Stimpson has been a film critic for What's on in London and Gay Times. He's currently chief reviewer and co-editor of the annual Film Review ( He will be talking about his life and his experiences of gay life in the 1970s. as described in his book No Drum To Beat, published in 2014 but written 30 years before. No charge, open to all.

Tue 17 May 2016 Matt Cook
Matt Cook

Dr Matt Cook is an historian at Birkbeck College, specialising in the history of sexuality, and editor of A gay history of Britain. Open to all, no charge. See our press release.

Tue 15 Mar 2016 Del Campbell
Del Campbell

Del is a project leader at the Terrence Higgins Trust, who are planning to set up a sexual health clinic near East Croydon Station. No charge, open to all. Organised by Croydon Area Gay Society.

Tue 2 Feb 2016 Art Lester
Art Lester

Art Lester is the Minister of Croydon Unitarian Church. An American by birth, he has lived and worked in many different countries, including Botswana, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Ireland and Spain. He has been a restaurateur, clown, fire tower guard, counsellor, village level teacher of agriculture, bartender and group facilitator. Along the way he has written and published widely. His talk, entitled "Thank God I'm an Agnostic", examined the parallels between being a Unitarian and the LGBT struggle for acceptance.

Tue 17 Nov 2015 Diversity Role Models
Navah Bekhor

Navah Bekhor, Head of Education of Diversity Role Models, which seeks to prevent homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in UK schools. Open to all, no charge. Organised by Croydon Area Gay Society.

Tue 15 Sep 2015 Stephen McKenna
Stephen McKenna

Stephen McKenna gave an interesting talk and photographic presentation, entitled "Silken Sophistication to the Swinging Sixties", on the life and work of three of the most influential British photographers: Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson and Brian Duffy. We were glad to welcome several visitors with an interest in photography.

Tue 21 Jul 2015 Donald West
Donald West

D. J. West has been a psychiatrist, criminologist, and pyschical researcher. His book Homosexuality was essential reading for all gay and lesbian people from the mid-1950s. Only much later, with the publication of his autobiography Gay Life Straight Work did he come out as gay himself.

Tue 19 May 2015 Kevin Maxwell.
Kevin Maxwell

Gay, mixed-race, Kevin Maxwell worked in the CID at Greater Manchester Police and subsequently as an intelligence officer with the Metropolitan Police Special Branch, where he protested successfully against the Met’s treatment of ethnic minorities. Since leaving the police, he has established himself as a writer, broadcaster and filmmaker, and an ambassador for equality and social justice.

Tue 17 Mar 2015 Mark Watson
Mark Watson

Councillor Mark Watson is Cabinet member for Safety and Justice on Croydon Council. In 1993 he set up Stonewall Immigration, now the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group.

Tue 3 Feb 2015 Robert Brown
Cover of the book Through the Eyes of Others

Robert will be bringing his book Through the eyes of Others, a collection of poems, photography, short stories, artwork and history from within and without the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community and their friends.

Tue 18 Nov 2014 LGBT election hustings

Representatives of the main political parties will present their case and answer questions in advance of next year's General Election.

Mon 15 Sep 2014 Albert Kennedy Trust
The Albert Kennedy Trust

Tony Butchart-Kelly is Communications Officer for the Albert Kennedy Trust, which supports LGBT young people in crisis. Note change of date.

Tue 15 Jul 2014 Yemisi Ilesanmi
Yemisi Ilesanmi

Yemisi Ilesanmi, an LGBT activist from Nigeria, now living in the UK She has written a book called Freedom to love for all: Homosexuality is not Un-African. No charge, open to all. See CAGS' 8 July press release.

Tue 20 May 2014 Poems of Ivor Treby
Ivor Treby

John Dixon and Jeff Doorn from Paradise Press read a selection from over 60 of Ivor's poems, which remained unpublished when he died. The evening will include recordings of Ivor reading his own work. Open to all, no charge.

Fri 7 Feb 2014 The Celluloid Closet
The Celluloid Closet (film poster)

A fascinating documentary film using clips from Hollywood movies to illustrate gay and lesbian themes within them. 7:30pm for a sharp start at 8pm. Our contribution to LGBT History Month.

Tue 19 Nov 2013 Peter Robins
Peter Robins

Peter Robins, Journalist and Broadcaster, will be speaking on his career, with many fascinating anecdotes, and the famous people with whom he has been involved. All welcome.

Tue 24 Sep 2013 The Bishop of Croydon
Rt Rev Jonathan Clark at the meeting

The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark gave an interesting and thoughtful talk on homosexuality and the Church of England.

Tue 16 Jul 2013 Terry Cooling
Terry Cooling

Anxiety in the Catholic Church – Rehearsed readings of two plays by Terry Cooling. A Can of Worms and Maybe it will go better second half.

Tue 21 May 2013 Ed Connell
Ed Connell

Criminal barrister, photographer, football fan, manager of London Titans FC, campaigns officer for Gay Football Supporters Network.

Tue 19 Mar 2013 Laura Fox

Trans woman, vice chair of Richmond LGBT Forum. CAGS' bi-monthly programme of meetings with speakers. Free of charge and open to all.

Tue 5 Feb 2013 Michael Danvers-Walker.
Michael Danvers-Walker

The gay former film star (son of TV personality Bob Danvers-Walker) spoke about his life and times. See our 29 Jan press release.

Tue 4 Dec 2012 Stella Duffy
Stella Duffy

the lesbian novelist and performer gave us a fascinating and entertaining account of her life and her approach to writing.

Tue 2 Oct 2012 Ted Brown
Ted Brown at The Brief Encounter

Veteran black gay activist Ted Brown gave an interesting account of his life and campaigns. (This was CAGS' event for Black History Month). See our Press Release of 3 October.

Tue 7 Aug 2012 Anna Trocity (Martin S)
Martin S as Anna Trocity

A lifetime of crazy stunts around the world, by the cross dresser who just can't settle down.

Tue 5 Jun 2012 Ivor C Treby
Ivor C Treby

Gay Poet Extraordinaire and one of the very first UK gay literary activists. He now has nearly 400 poems in print worldwide

Tue 3 Apr 2012 Patrick Strudwick

award-winning journalist, political columnist at Gay Times. He exposed therapists and religious groups that claimed to "cure" people of homo­sexuality. See our Press Release of 26 March.

Tue 7 Feb 2012 Lisa Power

Policy Director of the Terrence Higgins Trust. Lisa grew up and discovered her sexuality in Croydon at a time when something like CAGS would have been a miracle. She subsequently went on to help found Stonewall and is the author of No Bath but Plenty of Bubbles. See our Press Releases of 30 January and 8 February.

Mon 5 Dec 2011 Up the Kasbah
Cover of Up the Kasbah

Tony Walton (editor of Out of the Shadows) will be talking about his new book, entitled Up the Kasbah, giving the memories and adventures of gay expats and visitors to Tangier, Algeria and Tunisia, 1890 to 1980. See our press release..

Tue 4 Oct 2011 Sue Sanders
Sue Sanders

Co-chair of Schools Out and founder of LGBT History Month UK. See our press releases of 26 September and 8 October, the press cutting from the Croydon Advertiser, and an item by Erica Mochia on East London Lines.

Tue 2 Aug 2011 Lindsay River
Lindsay RIver

The founder of Age Of Diversity, campaigning by and for older LGBT people, gave us some fascinating insights into the gay world from a woman's perspective. See our Press Releases of 23 July and 3 August.

Tue 7 Jun 2011 40 Years On
CAGS memebers at the meeting

Selected CAGS members recalled memorable events in CAGS’s past forty years, between comment and questions from the floor.

Tue 5 Apr 2011 Rory Goring
Rory Goring

Rory Goring runs the Harbour­Safe project at Woolwich, a peer mentoring programme to help helping black gay men practice safer sex and avoid HIV infection. See our 6 April Press Release and the press cutting.

Tue 1 Feb 2011 Darren Ollerton
Darren Ollerton

Campaign Director of The Justin Campaign, campaigning against homophobia in football. This meeting was part of CAGS' contribution to LGBT History Month 2011. See our Press Release..

Tue 7 Dec 2010 Peter Scott-Presland
Peter Scott-Presland

The gay writer and cabaret artiste, and founder of Homo Promos, performed a number of his own songs for us. He has recently been contracted to write the official history of CHE.

Tue 5 Oct 2010 Linda Bellos OBE
Linda Bellos

Black/Jewish lesbian activist, former leader of Lambeth Council and originator of Black History Month UK. This event was part of CAGS’ contribution to Black History Month in Croydon. See our 6th October Press Release for more details.

Tue 3 Aug 2010 Paul Burston
Paul Burston

Described as “the nearest thing the UK has to Armistead Maupin”. He edits the gay and lesbian section of Time Out; novels include Star People (2006), Lovers & Losers (2007) and The Gay Divorcee (2009). He gave us some fascinating insights into the creative writing process and revealed that he'd just agreed a deal on TV rights for The Gay Divorcee. See our Flyer and Press Release.

Tue 1 Jun 2010 Rev Colin Coward
Rev Colin Coward

President of Changing Attitude UK, one of the most effective lobbying groups in the Anglican Communion promoting the full inclusion of gays and lesbians into the life of the Church. He gave us an interesting talk last month on the situation of gay people in the Anglican Church, followed by a very lively discussion.

Tue 6 Apr 2010 Thierry Schaffauser
Thierry Schaffauser

Male gay sex worker, and trade union leader. He has recently contributed to The Guardian in the on-going debate over the new legislation against sex work. There's more about this meeting, with a photo, in our press release.

Tue 6 Apr 2010 Dr Justin Varney
Justin Varney

consultant in public health medicine and co-chair of the Gay and lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists (GLADD). Justin told us that we need to engage with the local health bodies to ensure that LGBT issues are not neglected. We’ve been considering how CAGS could get involved with this.

Tue 2 Feb 2010 Hustings meeting
Hustings meeting

A special meeting, with representatives of the main political parties answering questions about their policies in advance of the General Election. Part of our offering for LGBT History Month 20101. See our press release for more details.

Tue 1 Dec 2009 Mark Bunyan
Mark Bunyan

author, composer, and out gay cabaret artist. Mark treated us to a very entertaining evening performing and commenting on his own songs, with relevance to the gay situation down the years.

Tue 6 Oct 2009 Angela Mason
Angela Mason

long-term feminist and campaigner for women’s rights, lesbian mother, OBE and a Government adviser. Angela gave a very interesting talk about her days as head of Stonewall in a period when she helped to push through several major law reforms.

Tue 4 Aug 2009 Rev Sharon Ferguson
Sharon Ferguson

pastor in the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) and recently appointed Chief Executive of LGCM (the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement).

Tue 2 Jun 2009 Peter Tatchell
Peter Tatchell

campaigner for gay equality, human rights, democracy, and global justice, Green Party candidate and leading member of Outrage! Noted for his courageous stand on sometimes unpopular issues and his attempted citizen's arrest of Robert Mugabe. See our 3rd June Press Release for more information.

Tue 7 Apr 2009 Denise Anderson
Denise Anderson

Transgender campaigner, founder member of the Spectrum London transgender support group, London representative for the Gender Trust, and chair of the Haringey LGBT Network. Passionate about hate crime and domestic violence, and actively involved in support and raising awareness for the trans community.

Tue 2 Dec 2008 Allan Horsfall and Ray Gosling
Allan Horsfall and Ray Gosling

veteran LGBT cam­paigners. Ray is a radio and TV journalist, and Allan was one of the founders of CHE. They both continue work on behalf of gay people to this day. The December press release gives full details.

Tue 7 Oct 2008 Brian Paddick
Brian Paddick

the most senior openly gay police officer in the UK, and subsequently a candidate for Mayor of London. Brian gave a most informative and entertaining talk to a packed meeting. There's a summary of his talk in our October press release.

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