First about myself: I am a London sociologist and university lecturer. I am also a homosexual with an affair which last October celebrated its tenth anniversary (we met as provincial working-class students: he is now 27 and I am 34). I’m thus no longer young. However I bridge in my person more than the gap between two generations, that also between the working and middle classes, and more significantly in this context, between the latter and the homosexual community. I throw in the biography, not I hope to boost further my already highly developed ego, but in order to venture the suggestion that my prejudices and attitudes are likely to reflect not only those of the ‘Gay World’ but of a wider spectrum of the community.
First of all the bouquet. I greatly approve of the whole, rather breath-taking panorama of organisations of homosexuals which have mushroomed, almost overnight, particularly outside the metropolis where the need is greater. I welcome also the appearance of Gay News because it represents the first attempts of homosexuals to communicate openly with each other as human beings and not merely as sex objects. Mr Stafford is, in my view, wrong to wish to suppress this or other forms of homosexual oppression on the grounds of their present (undoubted) crudity, and patches of abrasive immaturity. The nappy-wetting and turbulent infant grows up, in the fullness of time, into the maturity and strength of manhood. So it can be with Gay News and the rest. The signs are there already (see for example the excellent final section in your Christmas number editorial, and the wise decision to feature items of general interest).
There is however, one matter which causes me a measure of disquiet and true sorrow. This is the treatment of Mr Stafford in your columns. However wrong-headed and obnoxious his views may be to me and the young activists who dominate the metropolitan homosexual organisations, it must be recognised that he has an important point of view (representative of a very large body of homosexuals, apart from the rest of the community). We must all bear in mind that there is a much worse crime then being wrong, and that is to be convinced that one has a monopoly of what is right.
Mr Stafford’s presence on the executive committee of CHE far from being deplored, should be strongly welcomed, and his important viewpoint treated with the respect it deserves of mature people symbolised in a reasoned dialogue, free from personal abuse.
Finally if I were asked for just one suggestion as to hew your readership, innate strength and standing with the community at large might be enhanced dramatically and at a single stroke, it would be this: take a leaf out of the London right-wing press in their treatment of Richard Neville and offer Mr Stafford a regular column and a free hand in your newspaper.
After all, true tolerance, like charity, starts at home! I wish you a prosperous New Year in which your paper continues to grow in those virtues so ardently sought by us all (and even Martin Stafford, don’t forget).
Mike, D Phil (Dr Mike, Shrewesbury)
ED: Mr Martin Stafford is, of course, entitled to his opinions and particular viewpoint, but was it necessary for him to attempt to close down Gay News because he personally did not approve of one item in the paper? With regard to your suggestion that Mr Stafford be invited to write us a regular column, he is most welcome to, as are all people who wish to communicate their ideas and comments to our readership.
Radical Free Library
Dear Gay News,
For some time now you have been running a request from me on information page) regarding the building up of a collection of radical gay pepers and magazines, as part of an alternative library.
We are all quite aware of how difficult it is to get books about homosexuality from a public library, very often they simply do not have them available/will not buy them/do not wish to buy them. The situation is probably more uptight over radical gay publications. As part of a wider move to collect, to make freely available, radical/underground publications an alternative library has been formed.
Quite probably under the aegis of Librarians for Social Change quite a lot of material will be microfilmed to be more freely available.
The point is we have no resources at all except what people donate. So can I appeal to everybody reading Gay News to please let me have any old back issues of gay publications, political rather than ‘pin-up’, instead of throwing them away. We would really be grateful if back issues of publications ‘Come Together’, especially issues 1 to 7 could be sent to us.