‘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.

Village Murders – Frenzy Times Five

NEW YORK: The state’s Gay Activist’s Alliance helped New York cops after a series of five murders in the Greenwich Village area. The carbon-copy killings are said to follow the pattern described in a novel about a man who makes a habit of murdering gays.

When it was found that five men had died in this rash of brutal killing, three 24-hour hot-lines were opened – one by the police, one by the GAA and one by the Mattachine Society, the US homosexual law reform society – all appealing for information about the killer or killers of the five gays.

The city’s Village Voice put together an account of the slayings ‘from innumerable telephone calls and visits to the Homicide Bureau, calls on the Village leather and gay waterfront bars, discussions with bartenders, managers, customers, and a day at the GAA switchboard.

Victim No 1: Jose Ronnie Cabo, called Pepe by his friends … stabbed ten times, head gashed, Cabo’s nude body was found on a closed sofa convertible that went up in flames on January 4. Cabo had four Maltese dogs. Two died in the fire, two were saved.

‘Jose Cabo was a hairdresser with a receding hairline. Conscientious about his appearance, he wore a hairpiece, was about five feet eight inches tall, weighed 145 lbs, somewhat effeminate in manner. He came to New York from Havanna 11 years ago, joined the army, served at Fort Dix, worked as an Eastern Airlines steward between New York and Miami, frequented the waterfront bars and occasionally went to the trucks. (Lately there have been increased incidents of robberies and muggings at the trucks. Regulars report a knifing on January 12 which may not be linked with the homicides.)

Jose Ronnie Cabo, stabbed 10 times.

Seen In Bars

It’s been established that on the night of the murder, Cabo stopped of at his two favourite bars: Danny’s on Christopher Street and Peter Rabbit on West 10th near the river. Both bars are owned by Joe Nieri. An acquaintance claims Cabo was also at the Roadhouse and was seen there at 2am talking to a tall blonde who wore a knit seaman’s cap. Cabo had been drinking.

Victims No 2 and 3: Donald McNiven, 41, and John Beardsley, 53. Victims maintained adjacent apartments. Bodies found on floor of MacNiven’s living room, Macniven stabbed 51 times. Beardsley stabbed 30 times. Both bodies badly burned. Police claim Beardsley’s underpants were charred. MacNiven was wearing tiny undershorts at the time of his assassination.

‘Beardsley was a graduate of Harvard, had a PhD and was listed in both the New York and Philadelphia social registers. He tutored, wrote a couple of books, worked for a short time at a publishing house – the same firm where MacNiven worked as a statistical clerk prior to his death. Beardsley, according to Homicide, liked to go to the better gay bars; MacNiven was a heavy drinker and preferred the raunchier places. Like Cabo, he frequented Danny’s and Peter Rabbit. He also liked the trucks.

Donald MacNiven, stabbed 51 times.

‘Early on the day of the murders, MacNiven was seen drinking at Danny’s. Tipsy, he returned to his building and had a few more with his neighbour, Beardsley, then left at about 11 pm. Beardsley remained at home. Police are eager to know McNiven’s activities between 11 pm and 7am, at which time a neighbour heard scuffling, and a new voice, described as “strong and groggy and definitely not New York, but I can’t place the accent.” Later still, that neighbour smelled smoke in the hallway. He called the Fire Department. Shortly after, MacNiven and Beardsley’s bloody, smouldering bodies were found.

John Beardsley, stabbed 30 times.

‘The Medical Examiner claims that MacNiven had a high alcoholic content at the time of his death. Detectives are checking out names in Beardsley’s address book. They include European royalty and New York cultural figures.

Victim No 4: Robben Borrero, 23, body fished out from the river at the Morton Street pier, approximately 1 pm January 17. According to Dr Rho, who performed the autopsy, there had been no obvious evidence of a violent nature, no gunshot wounds, knife wounds or strangulation. The body had been dead for a month to five weeks. Robben had been reported missing by his mother a week before the Christmas holidays. Police are to investigate further They claim there is no connection between the three murders and Borrero’s drowning.

Robben Borrero, fished from the river.

Robben Borrero was an early member of the Gay Liberation Front. At one time he was with a gay consciousness-raising group, belonged to the Gay Community Group at Queen’s College (members say he showed up sporadically for meetings), and was vice-president of Homosexuals Intransigent, a Village gay group.

Somewhat Self-Destructive

‘According to Craig Schoomaker, president of the latter group and one-time roommate of Borrero, “Robben was somewhat self-destructive, but he wasn’t the kind of person who’d kill himself.” The director of Borrero’s City Hospital therapy group agrees, “Robben seemed to be in control.”

‘During the last few months, Robben Borrero had been living, on and off, with a lover in a small apartment over the One Potato restaurant at Hudson and West 10th. His lover, a Christopher Street fixture during the summer, had spent time in a Florida State mental hospital. He was released last May and Robben sent him the money to return to New York.

Major Tranquilliser

‘The lover was on Thorazine, a major tranquilliser used primarily for schizophrenia. According to Robben’s therapist, the lover was a “tall blonde, over six feet, much bigger than Robben. He had been violent with Robben many times, destroying things like Robben’s paintings.”

‘Physically, Robben was built like Jose Cabo. He was about five feet seven inches tall, weighed about 135lbs, had black hair. Both Jose Cabo and Robben Borrero were beardless and of Hispanic origin.

Victim No 5: Robert Koleda, 27 years old, body discovered floating in water near Pier 66, 26th Street and waterfront, about 5 pm, January 17. The person who discovered Koleda was walking his dog when he “noticed the top of a head and a white ear.” He phoned the police and the Mattachine Society.

“No Connection”

‘Koleda had been in the water four or five days. Detectives claim he had no gay history and there was no connection to the gay murders. Also that Koleda had a history of mental disturbance, there was no apparent violence and he was a drowning victim.’

The Village Voice seems to be the only US paper to have treated the rash of gay slayings with the seriousness it deserves. In another story it reported that Robben Borrero had been found wearing leather with a chain around his neck.

One theory that police started working on was that the killings were the work of one man with a grudge against gays, as the pattern of the murders seems to follow a novel of gay murders which is a village best-seller.

To quote: ‘Some details of the book, called Cruising by Gerald Walker, differ from the real-life account of the homicides. But the fact meets the fiction on several key points.

‘For example, the killer, who is portrayed as a man who hated homosexuals, finds his victims by picking them up in Greenwich Village gay bars and being invited to their homes.

Stabbed and Naked

‘And the victims are later found naked, dead of multiple stab wounds.

‘“We’ve gotten all kinds of tips” said a homicide detective. “This seems no more far-fetched than the rest. Maybe some lunatic would be impressionable enough to be influenced by a thing like this.”

‘The book was discussed in a December 28 Village Voice article – only a few days before the first homicide was discovered.

‘While Cruising is not found on the shelves of most bookstores, the homosexual shops of the Village say the book has been their number one best-seller over the past year. “We’ve sold so many it’s hard to keep it in stock,” said the proprietor of the Legend Gallery at Charles Street and 7th Avenue. “What Portnoy’s Complaint was to middle-class Jews, Cruising has been to the gay community. It’s about the fears we all live with.”’

This is just one lead homicide squad detectives are following up.

Another lead is this: several gays have come forward and told police they have been “brutalised”. Each witness gave an identical description of the man who’d assaulted them.

Another Pair Slain

Days later another pair of men were found dead in their plush Brooklyn apartment.

The VV reported: ‘The men, found Saturday afternoon with their feet and hands tied behind their backs with rope, shared the one-bedroom cooperative apartment in Henry Street for nearly a year.

‘The apartment was owned by Nelson Roberts, a 32-year-old teacher. He shared it with Lance Raiford, a 23-year-old senior at Queen’s College.’

Where Were They?

Police say it is possible that the men met their murderer or murderers on Friday night and were returning to the apartment together. Detectives hope they will find out where the men spent their last hours and thus link them to the killer.

‘Despite some similarities in the deaths,, police say at this point, there is no connection between the Brooklyn slayings and the murder of homosexuals in the Village recently.

Police were called to the Henry Street apartment block after loud music had been playing all night, annoying the neighbours.

Inside the 30th-floor apartment, which commanded Manhattan’s East Side, police found the two bodies. Nelson, clad only in his undershorts was lying on a bed, his head wedged between the mattress and the head-board. His neck was broken. On the living room floor, wearing dungarees and a white T-shirt, was Lance. He had been stabbed once at the base of the spine.

Cruising In Britain

The controversial book, Cruising, which may have served as a scenario for at least some of these slayings, is on sale in Britain, published by Lord Thomson’s Sphere Books.

Sphere Books, the British publishers of Cruising, the novel said to be the scenario for the Village gay murders, report that they have sold only 14,500 copies of the book since August.

A spokesman said: “It may be a bestseller in the States, but it doesn’t seem to have hit Britain in a big way at all.”

The only mention of the Village murders in the British press so far has been in the Evening Gazette, Colchester, which treated the story with a rather tasteless headline: “Police Go Gay In Hunt For Knife Maniac”

The Evening Gazette reported that ‘ten detectives are posing as homosexuals in the ‘gay’ bars, bookshops and cinemas of New York’s Greenwich Village in an effort to find the killer.’

“They Have So Many Friends”

Meanwhile in New York one of the detectives in charge of the gay slayings case told the New York Times’ “Homosexual homicides are always tough because they have so many friends.”

Lieutenant James Skennion continued: “We’ve asked for the homosexuals’ cooperation and we’re getting it, although some have over-reacted. If we can get information, we don’t particularly care about their feelings.”

L A Gets Gay Synagogue

LOS ANGELES: A synagogue for gay men and women has been founded here, it has been disclosed.

The Metropolitan Community, believed to be the first of its kind, generally follows the liberal ritual, and is now a year old.

In that time it has gained 60 members, and instituted regular study sessions. Last autumn it welcomed more than 175 gays for its High Holyday services.

Liberal Rabbi

Rabbi Erwin Herman, the regional director of the (liberal) Union of American Hebrew Congregations, who encouraged the establishment of the synagogue told our reporter: “The congregation came about because of a yearning by these people to form an organised Jewish worship group.”

Pow-wow With TV Chiefs

NEW YORK: The Gay Activists’ Alliance has written a letter to the three US television network Standards and Practices Committees, asking for a meeting to discuss, with reference to codes of practice, the recent rash of anti-homosexual remarks, jokes and characterisations on the networks.

Signed by the alliance president Bruce Voeller, the letter charges that the practices chieftains have not been ensuring that shows ‘contain no slighting or offensive references to minority groups’.

The letter says: ‘We have no objections … to humorous remarks or skits dealing with homosexuality and depiction of homosexual characters on television … But sniggering “fag” and “dyke” jokes won’t do nor will the suggestion that the mere fact of homosexuality is hilarious. In short, we do not object to jokes that deal with our lives – but our lives themselves are not a joke!’

The alliance has cited as acceptable the sketches on the Burns and Schreiber comedy specials (ABC television) dealing with a homosexual son and his father and a homosexual drunk at a bar asking a heterosexual couple what they do sexually. Also, a bit on the Mary Tyler Moore segment in which two women are after the same man, who, it turns out to the great relief of one of the smitten, turns out to be gay.