‘Queer’ Strikes Back At News Of The World

The following appeared in the News of the World, under the heading “John Field Column” on February 11th:-

Warn Them

There is one word in the English language calculated to get me blazing mad. It is spelt q-u-e-e-r-s.

Five of these creatures turned up at a Midlands school conference on sex. One addressed the pupils.

In heavens name, school children should be WARNED about homosexuals, not asked to LISTEN to them. Could the subject not have been dealt with by someone who was not himself a confessed homosexual?

I don’t believe that pansies are men who can’t help being odd and should be pitied. What they want is a lecture on self discipline.

Any strange men thinking of writing me cross letters need not bother. I shall burn them.

Sympathetic Stockist

Jim Harris, a friendly and sympathetic Gay News stockist, of Smiths Newsagents (no relation to W.H.) in Moscow Road, Bayswater was outraged on reading the article, and on Monday morning rang the News of the World, and told one of the women who wouldn’t put him through to John Field, “I’m one of the queer persons you talked about and I’m not stocking the News of the World any more.” Gay News will go on top of the counter. He was eventually put through to the editor who glibly agreed to pass on his complaint.

Two days later a member of the News of the World ‘Mafioso’ appeared and declared that if Jim Harris refused to sell his scandal sheet, they’d put a street seller outside the shop. “I understand my son. He reads Oz and Rolling Stone.” said the heavy. Jim’s response was, “You’re not allowed to peddle in the street without a licence.”

Jim says “The News of the World is a big drag. Gay Society is generally so indifferent – so often they say … ‘tut-tut – I’ll forget all about the issue at stake’. The prime reason for striking at the News of the World’s circulation now is to win the apathetic section around.” He suggests all Gay News readers stop buying the News of the World forthwith — they’d be the losers. There must be a million of us ready and waiting, and this is just the start of it – if we can really move it…

Is there such a person as John Field?

“He’s a bit elusive on Wednesdays,” say the News of the World. Jim Harris wants a public apology, or a chance for gays to answer back. “If I read an article defamatory to gays in anything I sell I’ll ban outright.”

Marion, Jim’s assistant says of the News of the World, “Filth, that’s all it is, their paper.”

Fun on the Phone

We telephoned News of the World, seeking to speak to John Field and after being shunted around several different extensions, which are probably all employed for that purpose, we got a promise that he’d ring us back, which was indeed fulfilled some ten minutes later. The conversation went thus:

News of the World: Hello, you wanted to speak to me?

Gay News: Yes, who is that?

NOW: I currently write the John Field Column.

GN: Oh, great – you’re John Field.

NOW: No.

GN: Oh, then who are you?

NOW: That’s none of your business. Tell me what you want to know and we’ll talk.

GN: Well, tell me your name and we’ll talk.

NOW: I see. Good afternoon, (they rang off.)

Eventually their Features Editor referred us to Phillip Wrack, (Tel: 01-353 3030 ext. 306) who admits to writing the John Field column on occasions and didn’t deny writing this one. He pointed out that the John Field column is not the leader and therefore needn’t reflect editorial policy for the News of the World, but declined to comment, as did the features editor, as to whether or not this particular column was a joint editorial decision.

He refused to discuss his views on “treatment of homosexuals” but suggested our caller might care to write to him.

“But your column states you’ll burn my letter,” we replied, to which he said, “That’s right.” He then asked which paper we represented and when told it was Gay News, said “Look, old boy, I really haven’t the time to discuss our affairs with the Gay Lib News or whatever you call yourselves. I can only suggest you write to us.” He declined to comment on the question of Jim Harris, and said, “Be careful what you write or we shall sue you for libel.”

We then spoke to the circulation manager who said, commenting on their heavy’s visit to Jim Harris’s shop: “We hope we shall get a fair crack of the whip. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want our circulation to drop two million overnight, and why are we being discriminated against when the other Sundays aren’t. We have no wish to use strong arm tactics unless it’s absolutely necessary because we don’t have any other means of persuasion. We hope we shall get a fair crack of the whip.”

We replied, “We shall be as fair to vour paper as you are to the homosexuals of Britain.”

Says a card in Jim Harris’s shop: “To know nothing is nothing at all – to imagine is everything.”

U S Army Corps ‘Undesirables’ Marry

U S A: Outraged Army officials at Fort Ord California have taken immediate action to discharge two teenage US Women’s Army Corps members who were married five weeks ago in San Fransisco by the Rev Ray Broshears of Gay Alliance. According to army regulations homosexuals must be discharged as ‘undesirables’, but 19-year-old Gail Bates and 18-year-old Valerie Randolph are fighting for a ‘general discharge’ that will leave no slur on their characters or hinder future job prospects.

An army spokesman states that the army has no choice and that homosexuals must be discharged as ‘undesirables’, but the San Fransisco Gay Alliance threaten a protest march if the charge goes through as planned.

Only Two Years

LONDON: A 22-year-old painter and decorator, John Cree, of no fixed address, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for the manslaughter of Kenneth Fairhurst, 46, of Stockwell, London, who died after being stabbed 22 times with a two-pronged carving-fork. Cree who was acquitted of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter, met Kenneth Fairhurst in a South London pub, and the following evening visited his flat. Cree told the police that he made the attack after three separate homosexual advances had been made: “I picked up a fork, it was the first thing that came to hand and I just kept stabbing him.”

Mr Justice Forbes commented: “The jury has found that you were provoked by this man whom you killed. But killing under circumstances of provocation is still a serious crime.”

ED. There will be an editorial comment on the extremely low sentence imposed in this case in the next edition of GN.

Street Boy Conspiracy

At a Defence of Literature and the Arts Society meeting on 19 February, Mr Jeffrey Simmons, Managing Director of W H Allen and Co, the publishers, said he had just been told that conspiracy charges had been brought against the publisher of an autobiographical novel about a bisexual male prostitute, “Street Boy, Swinging London” by Richard Green, and that the publisher, Mr David John Miller had been kept in custody overnight at City Road Police Station before being charged.

According to the Guardian (20 and 21 Feb) Mr Miller visited the police station on 29 January after hearing that the Serious Crimes Squad had visited his offices. “The policemen were reading this book and said it was pornographic. I was then put in a stinking cell and was left there for 18 hours.” The next morning he was charged not only with offences against Section 2 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 but also with conspiring together with persons unknown to produce an obscene article. He was remanded on bail of £4,000.

The National Council for Civil Liberties has expressed alarm about the bringing of a conspiracy charge in these circumstances. Under Section 2 of the Act the only question at issue is whether the article is obscene in the opinion of the jury and motive is irrelevant. But with a common law conspiracy charge having been introduced, the prosecution could introduce evidence of the accused’s intentions and beliefs if they desired to do so.

The subject of the book may be significant, and Mr Simmons who has read it, thinks this is so, “the subject of male prostitution is obviously taboo” he commented. It is indeed notable that in both the recent major “conspiracy to corrupt public morals” trials – those of IT and OZ – the prosecution relied heavily upon the homosexual content of the material to bolster their case. Your reporter, who has also read the book, found it explicit in its sexual description but non-arousing (perusal failed to bring about a single erection) and moralistic in its tone – the “hero” is throughout anxiously careful to distinguish between those “healthy” mortals such as himself, who indulge in homosexual acts (whether for payment or not) for pleasure or out of a sense of comradeship without detracting from their heterosexual desires and performance, and the unfortunate “queers” who actually fall in love with other men and whom he despises for this. In spite of such an inadequate approach to the subject, it would be unfair to dismiss “Street Boy, Swinging London” as merely pornographic; it has a story line and contains some characterisation and descriptive passages which lift it out of the “mere smut” class. “A minor male Fanny Hill” would not be an unfair verdict.

In an excellent article in the current “New Law Journal” (22 Feb) a barrister, Mr Gordon H Scott, pertinently questions the efficacy or social usefulness of the current spate of obscenity prosecutions. It is high time, he says, that prosecutors and police stopped to ask themselves a series of questions before bringing such cases. These are:

(1) Is the prosecution necessary in the public interest?
(2) Has any substantial harm been done to an individual or to the public at large?
(3) Will the public be harmed if proceedings are not brought?
(4) What (if anything) will be achieved by commencing proceedings?
(5) Will the costs of this prosecution be out of all proportion to the offence?

It will be of interest to see how the authorities answer these questions with respect to “Street Boy, Swinging London”. Meanwhile Mr Miller has been charged and the Defence of Literature and the Arts Society is appealing for funds to support his defence. Contributions should be sent to DLAS, 18 Brewer Street, London W1.

Gay Political Storms

Private Life No Concern Of Council

Sam Green, the 32-year-old Liberal Councillor in Durham, who fought and won his election in spite of making the point that he was an active member of GLF, is under attack from the ruling Independent Party, and in fact has announced his decision not to fight the forthcoming county elections.

The cause of the uproar, a Granada TV ‘World In Action’ documentary featuring Sam in his triple role as psychiatric nurse, councillor and Gay Lib Activist, was to have included a face-to-face interview between Sam and his fellow councillors in the Durham City council chambers. Granada’s team have already interviewed Sam, but wanted to include comment on social attitudes to homosexuality from other council members.

However the general purposes committee banned the offending camera from Durham’s hallowed halls, and Sam was accused of using the programme to further his political career. Councillor Ron Stitt, spokesman for the Independent Party said: “I absolutely deplore this, I will discuss it openly but I will not allow the city council to be a little hub in a big wheel to expound councillors’ private lives. I consider what he does in his private life is his own concern and no business of the council.”

Oddly enough, Sam agreed that cameras should be kept out as a matter of overall policy but states: “I am not doing it for political gain, and to prove it I have decided not to stand in the forthcoming Durham County Council elections, in which I was a prospective Liberal candidate. I was making the programme to help other people. The Gay Liberation Movement is very important to me.”

The programme’s producer, Brian Blake commented that he was not disappointed, and that it would make no difference to the final programme, which could be screened any time within the next two months.

What Durham Does Today, New York….?

Although the Gays of the world can’t exactly be said to be united, at least there are signs that they’re beginning to think alike. And the thinking seems to be ‘If you can’t beat the establishment, join it and attack from the inside.’ In Durham, Sam Green has achieved fame as probably England’s only self-avowed homosexual Councillor, and now in New York John Owles, a former President of the Gay Activists’ Alliance is running on the Democratic ticket for a seat on the 43-member Council, New York’s legislative body.

This has only been made possible because of the political pressure which homosexual organisations in America have brought to bear on the ‘straight establishment’ and because of the changing attitudes towards gays which has been one of the benefits of the ‘permissive society’.

“I’m a candidate who happens to be gay and I’m seeking to bring gay people into the political process because oppression of gays can only be ended through political action.” he stated at a fund raising meeting. Other aims include removing all barriers to sexual acts betweeit consenting persons, and to end discrimination in all its insidious forms against homosexuals.

The usual arguments between moderates and activists within the Gay Movement then developed. The moderates’ objections to the fact that Osley’s supporters did not include any ‘straights’, that the problems of the poor, the drug addicts, and crime in the streets are more important that the gay issues were answered by the activists, who claimed that gay people suffered more than any minority within the city.

James Osley countered with the fact that he was just as concerned as any ‘straight’ with the quality of life in New York, and that he would stress many issues unconnected with homosexuals, and that he’d include the ‘straights’ in his campaign at a later date.

James admits that his chances of election are slender, even though his district, which includes Greenwich Village, is probably one of the most liberated and liberal in New York.

“But even if we should lose,” he said, “this campaign is going to be extremely important. Because we’re going to get a lot of people talking openly about what we stand for – civil rights for gay people. And that’s what counts.”

NEWSETTES

FRIEND Now in Seven Cities

LONDON: FRIEND,the homosexual counselling service now has branches in seven cities throughout the country. At the January conference, the sub-committee approved new branches in Brighton, Cambridge, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Cardiff. Plans for a Croydon branch are in hand and details will be available shortly. All FRIEND Branches are able to call on the specialist advice of professional consultants, and there is a befriending service extending over the whole of the UK. For further details contact 01-402 6345, Mondays to Fridays, between 7.30 and 9.30pm.

[Photograph: R.I.Poff]
Outspoken Reactionary Dies

EDINBURGH: Tubby, ultra reactionary. Councillor Kidd of Edinburgh has died of “exhaustion”. He was sixty four, and famous for his pronouncements on everything from fat bus conductors to filthy queers (GN5, 7 etc). He also had a particular dislike for strip clubs and go-go dancers, and once travelled to Glasgow to protest about the opening of a sex supermarket there.

He said “My big mouth is necessary if this country is to remain sane.”

Record Breaking Success

LONDON: The ‘Masked Valentine’s Disco’ held on Saturday 17th February at the Euston Tavern in Judd Street, was a record breaking success. The happy crowd of just over two hundred gay women and men, all intent on having a really great evening, surpassed all previous attendance figures for similar disco’s arranged in the past by Sappho.

Sappho are planning to hold a further social event in the near future. It will probably be called the ‘Queen Of The May’ disco. Sappho is the monthly gay women’s magazine edited by Jackie Forster, which also holds regular meetings at the Euston Tavern (see information page for details). All women are most welcome to attend these gatherings.

Brutal Cottage Murder

ELLESEMERE PORT: A middle aged photographer, Leonard Bestwick, who was stabbed through the heart with a butcher’s knife in a public lavatory and savagely beaten with a claw hammer, managed to run for 100 yards before collapsing and dying. A 16-year-old youth pleaded not guilty to the murder.

It was stated that the youth was the ringleader and that together with a 22-year-old friend known as Scotch Al, decided to rob someone, preferably homosexual, with violence; the idea being that he was less likely to report the crime. The case continues.

Clap Wrists, Here Comes Chelsea.

LONDON: Venereal diseases in Kensington and Chelsea are on the rise – 60 per cent in three years – and a massive campaign is being launched by that Borough aimed especially at the 15- to 30-year-old age groups. Posters, teach-ins, and stickers for phone kiosks will be used in an effort to stamp out VD.

Reason for the massive increases – 13,500 in 1971 – were blamed by the Royal Borough’s Medical Officer Of Health, Dr D J Sheerboom, to the number of “speudo-artists or drifters” living in the area. “We have reason to believe that due to artistic temperaments in the borough, there is a high emphasis in sexual activities. This has not been stressed enough in the past as a cause for these sexually transmitted diseases.” Two new VD clinics were opened in the area last November to cope with the dramatic increase in cases.

Why Gay Lib?

ABERDEEN: Gay lovers in this ‘granite city’ (an oil boom town nowadays) were given a St Valentine’s Day pick-me-up when Ian Dunn spoke about homosexual love and the law in the Students Union on February 14. 550 students and public crowded in to listen and take part in the debate, ‘Why Gay Lib?’ which was organised by the University’s Debating Society. The Chaplaincy, the Student Councelling Service, and the Police were sharply criticised for their negative attitudes towards Aberdeen’s estimated 8,000 gays. The SRC has passed a motion in support of gay people and will call upon the National Union of Students to prioritise a Gay Rights motion for the Exeter conference.

Gay Lib Newsettes

Hampstead Squat

LONDON: A new squat commune has been formed and is living at 44 Parkhill Road, Hampstead. At present occupied by seven people, there will eventually be fifteen to twenty people living there. They are appealing for help with plumbing, furniture, electrical work, bedding etc.

Come Together

LEEDS: Gay Liberation Front held its first national ‘come together’ for some time, over the weekend February 17th-18th in Leeds.

It was dominated by the Marxist elements, who decided to hold a further conference in Warwick two weeks hence. In addition, the next issue of ‘Come Together’ the GLF paper will be produced by provincial groups who have felt very out of things.

Edinburgh GLF in particular were disgruntled, feeling that no-one realised the difficulties of being gay in Scotland, where the 1967 act doesn’t apply, so it was decided that the next think-in to be held within two months, will take place in Edinburgh.

Gay News caused some heated discussion. While London GLF seemed to dislike the paper and made vague utterances about us holding shares and making money!!! the provincial groups were generally in favour of us. About 40% of the people present at the think-in were women, and they expressed disquiet at the lack of women’s content in the paper, and talked of creating their own publication.

During the latter half of the weekend, the think-in split into small groups, which discussed such subjects as transsexualism, gay marxism, child care and gay country communes.

New Gay Centre

LONDON: The former AgitProp Bookshop at 248 Bethnal Green Road, E2 will re-open on the first of March as “Bethnal Rouge”, run by a collective of gay men from London GLF. They will continue to stock the wide range of books and political literature sold by AgitProp and hope to expand the coverage of literature pertaining to womens’, gay and childrens’ liberation. They hope the shop will develop as a gay centre where homosexual men, women and children, will drop in to talk and have coffee.

Split To Expand

HAMPSHIRE: The once joint Campaign for Homosexual Equality group for Southampton and Bournemouth has expanded into two separate groups. They are now operating independently from each other.

Thee Bournemouth group meets monthly in Bournemouth. The Southampton group was formed a couple of months ago and now meets every Monday in Central Southampton with additional meetings, coffee evenings and parties at weekends. Members are of all ages and sexes and come from Salisbury, Andover, Winchester and Fareham. Recently they have had enquiries from potential members living on the Isle of Wight.

The Southampton group plans shortly to organise a befriending service for gay people in their area, ie, a South Coast FRIEND group. They also plan to do a programme for Radio Solent. Hopefully it will be similar to the very successful programme arranged and presented by London CHE on Radio London. There is also interest in the establishment of a Southampton National Council for Civil Liberties group. On a long term basis they have further plans to establish new CHE groups for Salisbury, Winchester and the Isle of Wight.

They have asked us to let gays in both Southampton and Bournemouth know that new members for either group will be welcome. If you live in the areas mentioned and would like further details, please write to the respective Chairmen of Southampton and Bournemouth c/o CHE National Headquarters, 28 Kennedy Street. Manchester M2 4BG.

GN would like to encourage other local and provincial groups of gay organisations to keep us informed of their activities and expansions.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

LONDON: Ray Connolly is certainly getting down to the ‘nitty gritty’ with the questions he has been asking showbiz celebrities in his featured interviews in the Saturday night editions of London’s Evening Standard.

On February 17 the enormously popular Radio One disc jockey Michael Pasternak, better known to liteners as Emperor Rosko, was asked the following question: “Had he ever had a homosexual experience?” To this Rosko honestly answered: “I went through it you know, I experimented and found it didn’t appeal to me and that was the end of it. I was about sixteen or seventeen.

Photograph: R.I.Poff
“I grew up surrounded by homosexuals in Hollywood so it was never a mystery to me. It was just a facet of life – the same as you run into a hundred things that you want to do before you die.”

It is of no consequence whether Rosko is gay or not. He says no, and that’s fair enough. What is important it seems to us at Gay News, is that someone who has to be very much aware of his public image, should be so explicit in his reply to what may have been an embarrassingly awkward question to some ‘stars’. Many would have undoubtedly avoided giving an honest answer.

Maybe there is a moral in this piece somewhere? Perhaps some of us could learn something from Rosko’s outspoken manner?

Who Rules The Waves?

A camp cruise or charabanc à la mer is the entertainment innovation from Tricky Dicky who pioneered gay discos all over the suburban wastelands of South and East London.

Gay News went on his latest boat trip which took place on the evening of Friday February 23rd, and despite extremely cold weather, the two-tier cruiser was filled to capacity when it moved off Westminster Pier at 8.30pm. Journeying westwards for eight miles or so, to Putney, and then east, back again past Westminster, to a point just short of Tower Bridge, and back to Westminster by 11.30pm.

Photograph: c/o Manus Sasonkin
The boat peopled by gays of more varied backgrounds and types than I have ever seen cohabiting in a small place before, really seemed to enjoy this novel trip, which cost £1. The boat was divided into two covered, heated tiers, the upper containing one of Tricky Dicky’s inimitable, ebullient discos, and the lower a bar lounge, where it was nice to see fast efficient bar staff and drinks at normal pub prices. For those who dared to risk the seemingly sub-zero temperature to catch a glimpse of their city in its best aura – from the river at night, there was ample outdoor accommodation as well.

FOOTNOTE: On arriving at Westminster Pier, the ‘gay sailors’ were welcomed back to dry land by the Metropolitan River police. There were no incidents; the amazed officers just cruised around in their launch. The timely arrival of the ‘water watchers’ was reminiscent of Chelsea Constabulary’s activities around closing time at the Coleherne, Earls Court.