BIRMINGHAM: Fifth-formers have come out strongly on the side of Birmingham Gay Liberation Front members whose educational visit to their school has been mauled by the local and national press.
Halfway through December a party of five gays from Birmingham GLF went to Coleshill Comprehensive School in Warwickshire as part of a school conference on sex education. At the time the visit seemed to go smoothly, no one was worried, shocked, assaulted. Instead the GLF members met a lot of school-kids and put over the problems gays face and the theories of gay liberation.
Then Birmingham GLF published their newssheet. A copy went to the Birmingham Post and Mail group.
The next thing the gays knew was that they had scandalised parents by going to the school, according to the Birmingham papers.
Then the national papers picked up the story, and as queer-bashing in print is a Fleet Street hobby, the papers invented a ‘row’ over the sex talk.
That was something that neither Birmingham GLF nor the school knew anything about.
A spokesman for Birmingham GLF told Gay News: “There was no particular response from the school until this week.
“It seems that everything has been stirred up by the local papers. The Birmingham Post got hold of a copy and as far as we know phoned up parents and said ‘Isn’t this shocking?’ just to get a story.
Girls Take More Interest
“We were just part of a conference on sex education. For some reason the girls seemed far more interested in what we were saying than the boys.
“Now the fifth formers have rung up the newspaper and told them that they weren’t corrupted in any way by meeting us. We’re glad the kids are backing us. We’re also grateful to the school for their backing.”
Mr Thomas Wilson told the Daily Telegraph: “I was not aware of any row and have received no complaints from parents.
“I thought it was a risk to invite a homosexual speaker, but it turned out to be of positive help to the pupils to understand better the problems homosexuals have to face.”
Mr Dennis Prosser, a retired magistrate and chairman of the school’s governors told The Times he’d not known the gays were attending the sex-ed conference until afterwards. But, he said, “If you are going to have a talk on homosexuality, it is better to get someone who can talk with authority.”
Parents had been sent a letter telling them what was going to happen at the conference and that they could deny their children the right to hear all or any of the speakers.
All Aspects Of Sex
Mr Wilson went on to say that the pupils had asked the school to arrange the conference to reflect all aspects of sex.
Meanwhile The Daily Express reported someone from Birmingham GLF as saying: “We don’t see what all the fuss is about.”
The secretary of the school’s parent-teacher association, Mr Louis Power admitted that he was “concerned” that gays should be allowed into the school.
He said: “I don’t complain about sex education itself. But there is no need to push homosexuality in front of youngsters so strongly.”
EDINBURGH: The Edinburgh University Senatus has now voted to recognise the Teach-In on Homosexuality on March 8th as an official University event, and referred the question of financial support back to the Principal and Deans’ Committee, which previously rejected a request for assistance, has had to have second thoughts and has coughed up £50 of University money for the event. A cheerful Mike Coulson, one of the organisers of the Teach-In, said it had been a small but significant victory for working within the system – and in retrospect an enjoyable exercise in beating the establishment at its own game.
LONDON: Police suspect that a Spanish waiter found strangled in a friend’s room may have been murdered. And they say, it’s hard to investigate the real cause of his death because he was “a homosexual (and) it is more difficult than usual to make enquiries. Everything is very secretive in homosexual circles.”
That’s what Inspector Robert Tapp told Westminster Coroner’s Court. Inspector Tapp also claimed: “The evidence clearly shows a homosexual tendency, and it is not unusual for these persons to be involved in fights.”
The eight-man jury at the court returned an open verdict on Fransisco, who was found dead in South Kensington in the room of his waiter friend Juan. He had a white chiffon scarf and a yellow vest tied round his neck with a red workman’s lamp hooked over the ligature.
The Inspector said that for nearly 24 hours Fransisco’s body had remained undiscovered.
Through an interpreter, Juan told the court that Fransisco had spent the night with him the night before he is thought to have died.
The Inspector said: “Had he been in some other area that we know he frequented at times, we would have found some person who saw him going off with somebody.
“From 7.30 on the Saturday until his discovery (about 6 pm) the next day, we have found no person at all who saw him.”
For this he blamed “the very secretive homosexual circles”.
The pathologist. Dr Michael Crompton, showed the jury the grubby and bloodstained ligature and showed how it had been tied.
He said it was possible that Fransisco had tied it himself.
End of the Affair
Juan, who said that his affair with Fransisco had ended in September, said £15 in cash, a rosary, and a mug were missing from his room. He added that Fransisco had been very depressed and had said he’d wished he were dead.
A police constable said broken beads, a broken paintbrush, a broken mirror and blood were found on the bed.
Dr Crompton said Fransisco’s face was bruised as if he’d been punched. His nose was broken and his face was slashed.
It was that that prompted Inspector Trapp to say: “It is not unusual for these persons to be involved in fights.”
Coroner Mr Gavin Thurston said: “This is a case in which we would not be justified in saying further than that there is insufficient evidence.”
The police are still investigating the case as a possible murder. Inspector Tapp told the Kensington Post.
LONDON: The British press is taking great trouble to point out that popular musical entertainers are not gay.
Ray Connolly interviewed David Bowie, Brixton’s answer to Garbo — at least inasmuch as he won’t give interviews, according to his Mainman organisation. So Connolly’s interview with David Bowie appeared in the Evening Standard making the now obligatory statement that David is not a homosexual.
Mr Connolly, known for his accuracy, ascribed to David and his wife Angela a daughter aged 18 months called Zowie – last heard of as a son in Newsweek.
Next day Tony Palmer, the former pop-writer got it on for the mums and gave us the low-down on Liberace’s life.
Mr Palmer, who just happened to mention that he’s spent the last four months making a documentary about Mr Liberace – a property he obviously has an interest in selling – confided to readers of The Observer “Contrary to gossip, he is not lonely nor oppressed by his mother. His taste is controlled, even demure … He is not a homosexual …”
Above and around Mr Palmer’s effusions about Liberace’s ‘demure’ taste were pictures of Liberace’s chintz and tinsel Hollywood home, with the Star posing just off centre in electric blue lounging clothes.
COLUMBUS: Here in Georgia, homosexuality and gay hustling in this city’s 40,000-student public school system, has educators and city bosses “worried” and “concerned”. One local school cites the case of ‘Johnny Smith’, a 13-year-old, as an example of the ‘problem’.
The school’s head calls Johnny a “discipline problem” who has already been held back a year in school and, the head says, Johnny has a juvenile court record.
“They Have Nice Houses”
The school’s head called Johnny into his office. The boy is small and blonde. He was dirty because he’d just finished a game of basketball on the school play-ground.
Johnny said he first “went down to the church” with his older brothers and some other boys.
“You just sit down by the church, and men come by and pick you up and they take you to their houses,” he said. “Some men are old, some young … they have nice houses.”
The school head said he first became aware of the kid-hustlers last year when he was leaving services at the downtown church on a week-night.
I came out of the church and I met one of my students,” he told this reporter. “He was pretty far away from home. I knew that corner. There’s only one reason that people would be down there.”
He said that the church was in the area of Twelfth Street between Sixth Avenue and Second Avenue. This section is also the site of the bus depot where soldiers from nearby Fort Benning arrive for a night on the town.
He said: “I called the boy into my office the next morning, and he admitted to me that he and other students nad been going down there for some time.”
$25 A Night
The school head went on incredulously to say that the boys later told him they could make between five dollars and 25 dollars a night by standing on the corner by the church and waiting to be picked up by gays.
The school head who told the boys’ parents also took two of them down to the police station to see detectives.
He reported “The parents’ reactions ranged from ‘there’s nothing I can do about it’ to ‘I can’t believe my son would do such a thing.”
He said the police were “very cooperative and tried to help. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to make an arrest in a case of this type.”
Money for Mum
Johnny spoke frankly and matter-of-factly.
The boy said he would often earn 25 dollars from a man if he would “do right”.
LONDON: Militancy isn’t a male prerogative. And women took to the streets in London to demand their rights as Tory MPs talked the Womens Rights Bill into the ground. Next day the CHE women were having their national conference in Manchester.
The Women’s Rights demonstrators were meeting at Caxton Hall and marching on the House of Commons bearing flaming torches.
Women hissed and jeered from the packed galleries of the House of Commons as Martin Maddon, the Tory MP from Hove talked the Bill out.
The Bill, a private member’s Bill (and therefore only discussed on Friday afternoons) has been tabled by Mr Will Hamilton, the Labour MP for Fife. It demands an end to lower wages for women and the introduction of equal opportunity for women in industry.
But it doesn’t go far enough. Mrs Ethel Chipchase, vice-chairman of the Trade Union Congress’s women’s advisory committee complains it’s a bill without teeth.
The Bill aims at making it illegal to advertise for an exmployee of either sex, just as it’s illegal now to advertise for someone who is or is not a certain colour.
The Caxton Hall rally supporting the Bill featured May Hobbs of the Night Cleaner’s Union and Audrey Wise, the Labour candidate for Coventry.
May Hobbs said once the Bill finally became law – after Martin Maddon has been persuaded to stop his bloody-minded histrionics – women’s equality will have to go on evolving and not become frozen by the law.
Audrey Wise warned: “Don’t be misled into thinking that equality is an abstraction: we don’t want all the disadvantages men already have.”
Many of the keenest supporters of the Bill went to Manchester the next day for CHE’s conference for gay women.
ED: We tried to get a more exciting picture of the Women’s Rights demonstration, but the clerical staff belonging to NATSOPA, one of the print unions, was on strike, and despite our having ordered a photograph, it couldn’t be printed for us. We’d like to thank Time Out and Angela Phillips, the photographer, for letting us use their picture of the rally.
BELFAST: Students lobbying for law reform to make gay sex legal in Northern Ireland have been denied official recognition by Queen’s University Academic Council, because of possible legal repercussions.
The Gay Liberation Society which has been active on the university campus for the last year, exists to fight social prejudice against homosexuals and to lobby for a change in the laws of 1885 and 1861, which still apply in the province, as the 1967 Sexual Offences Act applied only to England and Wales.
Equality With England
The Gay Liberation Society wants equality with English gays. It points out that the law in its present state in Northern Ireland – and Scotland for that matter – exposed homosexuals to blackmail and legal harrassment for actions which were their own affair.
The university’s academic council turned the society’s plea for official recognition down flat and said the society would have to get legal advice before reapplying for recognition.
Meanwhile the society was going ahead with its plans to stage a ‘gay play’ at the university.
The play, Find Your Own Way Home, by television playwright John Hopkins, was to be staged jointly by the Gay Liberation Society and the university’s dramatic society.
Belfast’s Sunday News called it “the most sexually explicit (play) ever to be staged in the Province.”
Deep Blue Air
The play deals with the break-up of a marriage when the husband leaves to live with his gay lover.
The Sunday News confided: “Its language turns the air a very deep blue…
“But director Gwen Williams, a graduate in English, is not worried about possible protests.
“The play is a serious exploration of homosexual relationships,” she said, “and though the language is very strong, I think it’s justified.
“It was obviously written to combat prejudice against homosexuals, hence the cooperation of Gay Lib. Homosexuals are still hampered in Ulster by outdated social attitudes and by legislation, but I think Ulster people are mature enough to take this type of play, If protesters try to stop the production we shall make it into a club performance.”
Enthusiastic About Role
Arts student Andrew Hinds plays the husband’s lover, Julian, and he’s enthusiastic about this role, during which he has his shirt ripped off him by another of the play’s gay characters.
In one scene he describes his casual sex encounters in parks and cottages using what the Sunday News was moved to call ‘X certificate terms’.
Andrew said: “In the play, the husband leaves his wife, Jackie, for me. She thinks he’s left her for another woman when she finds letters to him signed ‘Julie’. It is only when she meets me that she realises that ‘Julie’ is, in fact a man called Julian. When that strikes home she is physically sick on stage.
But Andrew does not object to the ‘bad language’ in the play. “It’s about time this kind of language, which all young people use, got on to the stage; and realism would have suffered if it had been omitted.
LONDON: Clearing the television documentary on Andy Warhol which he and two other Appeal Court judges had barred from being shown on ITV, Judge Denning tried to give the programme his seal of disapproval by saying it shows “the perverts and homosexuals who surround Mr Warhol”.
Not only did Lord Denning confuse “perverts” and “homosexuals” but he found that the programme was “dreary and dull. Taken as a whole, however, it is not offensive.” That was his verdict after he’d seen the television programme made by photographer David Bailey which he and another Appeal Court judge banned without bothering to see some weeks ago.
Lord Denning may have been prepared to make a volte-face in the light of public opinion about the court’s television censorship, but he was determined to get a last word in on the subject.
He said: “I speak as I find. The film struck me as dreary and dull. It showed the sort of people, perverts and homosexuals, who surround Mr Warhol and whom he portrays in his works. Taken as a whole, however, it is not offensive.
“Viewing it piece by piece, there are some incidents which seem to be inserted in an attempt to liven up the dullness; but this attempt did not succeed as far as I was concerned.”
Whether Judge Denning watches the programme or not is immaterial, what is important is that the court got rapped over the knuckles rather sharply by Sir Peter Rawlinson, the Attorney-General, who said it had no right to issue an injunction against the broadcasting authorities on the strength of a private complaint.
Ross McWhirter, the shocked and somewhat disappointed would-be hero of the ban-Warhol attempt, should have complained about the showing of the programme through the Attorney-General, Sir Peter said. And if though there was a breach of the law regarding broadcasting standards in the screening of a programme, it was up to him to get the injunction against the authority concerned. In this way he scotched the clean-up-TV-campaigners’ hopes for more and more successful court actions against TV companies.
QUOTES: Ross McWhirter: “I have received donations towards my (legal) costs in advance of today’s hearing.”
Mary Whitehouse: “The case is a beacon to the silent majority.”
David Bailey: “If the judges had liked it that would have been really something to worry about.”
Jimmy Vaughan, Warhol’s European agent: “I’m delighted. It’s a victory against humbugs.”
FOOTNOTE: Four days later Andy Warhol’s Trash opened at the London Pavilion, two years after the cans of movie arrived at Vaughan Films, and minus 23 seconds.
It has taken two years to get the British Board of Film Censors to agree to give Trash an X-certificate.
The 23 missing seconds include a fraction of the scene in which drag starlet Holly Woodlawn masturbates with a beer bottle, a fraction of a scene where Joe Dallesandro injects heroin into his arm and a little of one of the movies infrequent fucks.
Only one of the London film critics (Alexander Walker of the Evening Standard) realised that Holly Woodlawn, the glamourous heroine, is a well known Warhol factory transvestite.
BRISTOL: Bristol Gay Awareness took its message to Clifton College, Bristol, recently. After a showing of the Gay Liberation Front movie Come Together, everyone divided up into discussion groups.
Members of the Bristol group felt that the evening was very successful in that they were able to put over the problems faced by gays in society to an understanding audience.
Perhaps other public schools and the gay groups near them, should do the same.
◉ Teacher Cleared
PRESTON: At the Crown Court here a former Southport teacher was found not guilty of ‘indecently assaulting’ a 15-year-old boy pupil.
The judge directed the jury to clear Peter, who now lives in York, of the charge. Peter denied the charge.
◉ Reading Students Back Gays
READING: Students at the university here have passed a motion declaring their support for moves to have gays’ rights discussed at the next conference of the National Union of Students.
This makes the third time that students have tried to get the NUS to take a stand on gay rights. The Reading motion was proposed by Goff Sargent, of Reading Gay Alliance, who was interviewed about this by the Reading Evening Post.
Goff said the NUS represented 24,000 gay students who were isolated and met with discrimination.
He told the Evening Post: ‘“Under the 1967 Sexual Offences Act the age of consent is 21. For heterosexuals it’s 16.
“There should be no discrimination between the ages of consent.”’
He said being gay was like being black.
‘“White people never understand what it is like to be black.” ’
The next NUS conference is on February 24 and students want to hear discussed the need for counselling and befriending gays, the provision of social facilities for gays and the creation of sexual equality. “It is no longer a clandestine activity,” Goff said.
RGA, which started as a student gay group, is now a town-and-university group. There are now more town members than university members.
What problems do Reading’s gays face? Goff said: “There is no great problem of harrassment as they have in London, but there is a general air of hostility, which means that many homosexuals are isolated. It’s the usual syndrome where he can’t mention it to his best friends and parents.”
◉ A Wilder Wiltshire
CHIPPENHAM: A group of gay people is forming in this Wiltshire market town. Initial Contact: Bob Illingsworth, Phone Box (Somerset) 2881. – BGAG.
◉ Stage Bans Gay Ads
LONDON: The Stage, the theatrical newspaper, has refused to carry a travel firm’s advertisement on the grounds that the ads refer specifically to gays.
When Gay News asked The Stage for an explanation, a spokesman for the paper said: “I’m not allowed to comment on this. But we’ve had so many veiled references, you know, that we’ve just had to start cracking down.”
We’ll report further when the managing director explains the Stage’s position of sexual discrimination in its advertisements.
◉ Dilly Goes On Record
LONDON: The Save Piccadilly campaign is giving away a 45 rpm record as part of its propaganda blitz to try to get the Greater London Council to shelve plans which will wipe out humans from London’s largest tourist attraction and gay-cruising spot.
Both sides of the record are written by Mike Klein (music) and Alan Wakeman words). The record, performed by Everyone Involved, a community rock group, is being given away.
If anyone wants a copy of The Circus Keeps On Turning/Motor Car Madness, all they have to do is to go along to The Almost Free Theatre, Rupert Street, London W1 and ask.
Nigel Stewart, Gillian Dickinson, James Asher, Mike Klein and Richard Oscar Lanchester, who make up Everyone Involved, made the record for nothing as their contribution to the Save Piccadilly Campaign.
Co-writer Alan Wakeman was partly responsible for the GLF-supporting record ‘Come Together’ which was given away last year.
About 2,500 copies of the Save Piccadilly record have been pressed.
◉ Northern CHE Gays Evade Subs Payment
LIVERPOOL: Liverpool CHE group has found that less than one-fifth of its 170 members have paid the additional local subscription of £1 over their subscriptions they pay to belong to CHE nationally.
The local sub, the latest Liverpool newsletter says, is to entitle members to go to the group’s meetings at the Archway Club.
Membership of the Archway Club does not entitle people to attend the CHE meetings held there. The club is a new meeting place for the group which finds that some members are put off coming to meetings because they are now held in a gay club
But, the newsletter says, ‘trust us; the Archway is a relaxing, pleasant, safe place to be and especially on our own nights, is reserved exclusively for CHE. And being a club means that you can unwind before the meeting with a drink, and stay on afterwards for a chat or a dance – until 2 am if you wish.’
The group has also negotiated with the club’s management to get cut-price membership of the club for its members. Liverpool CHE members who show their cards can now join the Archway club for £1.50, rather than the standard £2.00 club membership fee.
◉ York Honours Sir John
YORK: The university here has granted an honorary degree to Sir John Wolfenden, chairman of the committee which produced the then-daring report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution.
Sir John, director of the British Museum, is a former vice-chancellor of Reading University.
His committee’s report did much to lower the temperature of opinion against gays in Britain, and thus made the 1967 Sexual Offences Act possible.
The committee was the first serious attempt to study the problems gays face and, whilst its findings may appear dated now, it was seen in its time as a great step forward.
◉ Thanks … But
LONDON: Gay News’ news section depends, to a large extent, on information sent in by local groups. If there’s a heavy bias towards a few groups, it’s because we get information from them, and therefore know what’s happening around Britain. Meanwhile thanks to Bath Gay Awareness, Leeds Gay Lib, Chilterns CHE, Liverpool CHE and Reading Gay Alliance for their newsletters/bulletins/ arrows etc.
If we don’t mention what you’ve been doing, it’s because you haven’t told us. Just type it – double spaced, please – and mail it to the News Deskette at Gay News, address is still 19 London Street, London W2 for now.