Brutalising, Punching, Kicking and Stabbing
An ex-queer basher, Paul, talks to Angus Suttie, David Seligman, Jeffrey Weeks and Micky Burbage.
Paul is in his late teens and has lately come to live in North London because there is no work in the large Scottish town where he comes from.
DAVID. At some time in your life, Paul, you were what is known as a queer basher. What did you used to do?
PAUL. I think in Scotland as compared to London there is a great difference in gay people, because in England they can bring themselves out a bit, more than they can in Scotland where they hide and are afraid to use any ways in life. Whereas a girl and a guy can kiss in the street, a homosexual can’t even make love in back yards or … If a cop caught you he’d love it, do you automatically or beat you up. When I was about fifteen I was what you call a queer basher. This is all made up of a bad person really, so what we used to do was use every form of violence, and the reason I’m telling you this is because now I’m living in London I believe that you have the right, as lesbians have, and because I want to help Gay News. The way I’m telling this may shock, but I think it’s my right, my prerogative to use this and let them know how I felt, how I hated them. There are a lot of different gay people in Scotland, and the reason Scotland is so bad for queer bashing is that they have no idea who’s gay (ie homosexual as opposed to pederast – ed.) so they have to confront somebody.
DAVID. Why do they feel they have to confront gay people rather than other groups of people?
PAUL. I chose queer bashing because a lot of them used young people, even kids, and this certain time I was talking to this homosexual person and he followed me, teased me. He tried, you could use the word rape. Well, I had a knife and he had a belt, so I used the knife and he used the belt. This was a violent gay person though, and what I’m trying to say is that there’s different people. There’s either gentle people, as the gay people I’m sitting here talking to at the moment, or there’s perverted homosexuals as well. I don’t know what the word is. They chase after, I don’t know if you could use the word homosexual, they chase after little children.
DAVID. They’re pederasts.
PAUL. It’s complicated you know. People think they are queer. That’s the word they use in Scotland. It’s a horrible word, but that’s the word they use, so I think that there’s different people. Maybe they know that there is a homosexual that is gentle, but they don’t seem to know that there‘s another homosexual, he’s got to hunt for them as a lover. And that’s why there’s queer bashing in Scotland. I’ve had plenty of opportunities with them, brutalising, punching or kicking or stabbing, or doing what I wanted with them.
DAVID. When you were queer bashing, what did you feel?
PAUL. That’s a thing I’m trying to get to know myself. I think it was like a trend, you know.
DAVID. You felt you had to do it because your mates did it?
PAUL. More so that I’d been pissed about by a lot of them. So I sort of hunted them. When I passed by them, they knew I’d beat them up in the streets. They can’t go to the cops. Well, they could, but they’d only charge them with something else.
DAVID. What do you think about the police attitude to gay people?
PAUL. The police are horrible people in Scotland as far as I’m concerned. I mean this is only my view. Some Scotsmen say they’re the salt of the earth or something like that; but they seem to think because they’ve got a uniform on they can knock the fuck out of you at any time.
DAVID. Have you ever been beaten up by police?
PAUL. Hundreds of times. I’ve got scars to prove it.
DAVID. When was it, after they arrested you?
PAUL. I’ll tell you. When I was in Scotland I was drunk and my brother was fighting, gang fighting. I ran to get hold of him to bring him home. Cops came and my brother swam the canal, and I couldn’t swim so I had to face them. Well, I put my hands out, so as to say, ‘Okay, I’m caught’, you know. They got their batons and they went for me. Well I lifted a stick. I thought fair enough, but my sister came running down the hill shouting ‘Leave him alone, leave him alone, leave him alone’, and this cop turned round and said, ‘Do you want it and all, you wee cow’. Well that just set me off and I hit him with the stick over the head and I got 60 days for it – imprisonment in the Young Offenders Street Institution.
DAVID. People in London don’t realise that there’s a completely different set of laws in Scotland. You can go to prison there for quite minor offences can’t you?
PAUL. Oh fuck! Different, they’re a lot