Monday Club Uses Gays

Picture has been edited as the age of the subject is not clear.A pamphlet is currently circulating around London called The Monday Club: a danger to British Democracy. It is an exposure of this ultra-right-wing group and makes for far from delightful reading. It names names, makes accusations and unearths unsavoury details about the private lives of many well-known Monday Club members and supporters. It is highly libellous, which is, presumably, why it lacks the names of author, printer or publisher.

One particularly interesting section is headed: Fairies at the Bottom of Their Garden and begins: “The homosexual aspect is vital if one is to investigate the intrigue that is going on in and around the Monday Club.”

It continues: “A Poetry Society covered some of these activities and involved a man … who has been in trouble with the police for his gay behaviour. … (he) is far better known as one of the leaders of the one-time Revolutionary Communist Party. Today, this man is able to mix amongst Conservatives, including Members of Parliament, because of his gay friends and now Right-wing political associates.

“It is always observed that homosexuals are bad security risks as they are open to blackmail and other forms of pressure. Certainly it would appear that those Right extremists in the Monday Club are seeing that homosexuals are being placed in positions where they can be influenced at a later date.”

The item goes on to name two such men.

STOP PRESS: Breakthrough In Eire

There is a distinct possibility that CHE may soon be able to form a local group in Dublin. This is the result of a visit made there by one CHE member, Allan Crossley, during which he contacted The Irish Times, the Samaritans and an already existing homophile group.

The established group is called The Legion of Mary and is described as “an apostolic organisation aiming to achieve the personal sanctification of all its members”. The group has about 50 contacts, and its leaders (both married men with families) agreed that not all homosexuals who came into contact with them could accept their approach and methods, especially if they did not wish any involvement with the church. The group accepted CHE literature which has been distributed to members.

All Irish newspapers have refused to mention this group and have refused to accept any advertisements from it. The Irish Times did, however, publish an interview with Allan (November 21), a short article which, while stating CHE’s aims quite clearly and correctly, lent its emphasis to the fact that ‘buggery’ and ‘gross indecency between males’ are illegal in Ireland. Which indicates that the full implications of being homosexual are completely unknown – to the writer of the article at least. However there is, at the time of writing, a 90% chance that the same newspaper will agree to carry a CHE advertisement on its back page of personal ads.

Allan was also able to give CHE literature and posters to the Dublin Samaritans, and to put the idea into their heads that a speaker on homosexuality might be invited along.

Batchelor of the Year

All readers of Gay News must, we are convinced, be afflicted with desperate longings to hear all about Alexander Lange who has been selected by Penthouse as Bachelor of the Year. None of us see Penthouse very often, but we found out about him through a write-up (hardly profile, or even interview) by Linda Blandford in The Sunday Times. Mr Lange’s main qualification, apparently, is his ’sensitivity towards women’, so Miss Blandford trotted along, all a-quiver, to find out for herself. The article is revealing, for between his quotes and her comments, we find a portrait of what can only be called an arrogant bully. Under a thin guise of olde worlde courtesy a new standard of male chauvinism, approved of and encouraged by Miss Blandford emerges.

“I couldn’t care less what is fashionable and what is old-fashioned – I find it almost impossible to sleep with more than one girl at a time.”

Presumably Mr Lange doesn’t mean that he can’t make it with two or more different girls in the same night, but that he can’t keep two or more mistresses going at once.

But notice that “almost impossible”. Also, disclaimers of modishness usually indicate a preoccupation with it.

“It’s a question of feelings, of giving myself, of wanting to be fair and honest with any girl I love, even to the point of sacrificing my own desires sometimes.”

A noble sentiment. But again we have a qualification – ‘sometimes.”

“He’s 29, 6′ tall and moves with the sinuous appeal of a man whose clothes only just become him more on than off.”

How does she know? Or maybe it’s a bit of wishful thinking.

“He’s a curious mixture: French on his father’s side, German on his mother’s, Swiss by birth and a product of Yale University and the United States army …”

It’s kinda dangerous for smart lady journalists to let their repressed xenophobia surface. What’s so curious about a mixed parentage? The world is small, people do travel. In describing him as a “product”, Miss Blandford is herself seeing him an object, as part of a consumer survey.

“He drives a white Porsche . . (has a) . . white and oatmeal flat chromed with elegance …”

Sexual desirability assessed by conspicuous consumption. And we couldn’t care less about fashion, remember …

“He keeps lists of everything and files it away in neat rows in his meticulous (flat).”

Somewhat obsessive wouldn’t you say? A touch repressed somewhere perhaps?

“He opens doors for ladies, stands up for them …”

What about us women?

“ . . buys them chocolates and flowers – not the mass-produced corner-stand rosebuds either, but proper long-stemmed roses, with genuine thorns on them.”

That is, he treats ladies as pretty dolls, entices them with extravagance.

“He’s also been known to send one girl friend … a list of rules on how to behave, including ‘Do not arrive unannounced’ ‘Do not telephone more than once a day’ and, inevitably, ‘Do think of me ‘.”

This is the biggest give-away of all. Arrogance, selfishness. Little evidence of a willingness to sacrifice his own desires there.

“He once dropped a girl friend he loved because she slept with someone else – it hurt him too much.”

Hurt his pride presumably. Or perhaps the poor girl had used up her one allowed daily phone call to apologise for putting her longstemmed roses in his filing system and couldn’t explain that someone more sinuous (or possibly more human?) had come her way.

Or maybe he was performing the almost impossible at the time.

MISS BLANDFORD CONCLUDES that it is encouraging to find Penthouse valuing such sensitivity. “Normally the magazine jangles girls on a man’s chatelaine like so many keys of doors he may or may not want to open some night”.

Doesn’t she realise that she herself has just spent seven and three-tenths inches (which reminds me of something we didn’t learn about Mr L) praising a man who wears exactly that chatelaine?

Oh, I almost forgot. “Alexander Lange considers he is unusally nice.”

Parents of Gay Children

19720901-07A group for the parents of homosexual children has been started in London. It is the idea of Rose Robertson, herself a mother and chairman of CHE’s Catford-Lewisham group.

Rose has been concerned about the relationship between parents and their gay children for some time and in the course of her campaigning activities has met several people in this situation.

“At first I put an ad in the local paper”, she says, “and got a number of replies. However, when I invited them to get together I got no response. And moreover, nearly all the letters I received more or less asked me to recommend a cure – you know, send the pills by return.”

A few months ago she was invited to talk about her project on Woman’s Hour and this produced some response from all over the country and she has now been able to call a meeting.

Obviously, in its very earliest stages the group will have to be local (though a mother travelled from Leicester for the first meeting). And the prime emphasis will be on helping those individual parents who turn up to come to terms with the homosexuality of their sons and daughters. “Many of them have no idea what homosexuality is really like,” Rose says, “and have all the usual prejudices.” So education of parents for starters.

But it doesn’t take much thought to realise the truly immense potential of such a group. Adjusted parents lead to adjusted families and, confidence gained, the way is wide open for some valuable political action. “After all, a crowd of parents lobbying parliament for law reform isn’t going to go unnoticed,” is the way Rose puts it.

This may be a little in the future just now, but before that will come a voice in Parent-Teacher Associations and thus pressure from another, and responsible direction for better and fuller sex education in schools.

As the group becomes established and well-known, its presence may well encourage other gay men and women to tell their parents. For if the individual gay person has tremendous problems related to coming out, so does his or her parents. The revelation tends initially to provoke shame and possibly disgust. And if not this, then bewilderment and fear, also a sense of failure as parents. If these feelings can be eradicated, put into perspective, then maybe mothers and fathers can begin to play a pretty impressive role in the cause of homosexual liberation.

Rose would like to hear from the parents of gay people and is already thinking of the reverse situation – the straight children of gay parents. Write to her at 16 Honey Road, Catford, SE 6.

Forelock and Foreskin

Fields of Wonder, by Rod McKuen. W.H. Allen, £1.00
Twelve Years of Christmas, by Rod McKuen, W. H. Allen, 80p.

19720901-10Two slender volumes of lyrics from the man who, according to the blurbs, must be something like the eighth wonder of the world. A thousand popular songs he’s written. Academy Nominations have crossed his path and there’s a string of major classical works too. He’s the world’s best-selling poet, it sez here.

The few times I’ve seen Rod McKuen perform (on television) he turned me off like nobody since Michael Parkinson. He was, it struck me, a case where sincerity was at once too much and not enough. Too much to tolerate – that intense gaze beneath the white-blonde forelock, an arm buried elbow deep in sheepdog, the introspective muttering. Not enough – to explain and excuse an inability to sing: to carry a tune, hit a high note, project.

In one of his Christmas verses he writes:-

There was the year I first heard Brel and cried
because I thought I’d never sing that well

Does he think he sings that well now, I wonder. But this seems to be how McKuen casts himself, as a transatlantic Brel, a chanteur in an essentially European tradition. But Brel has musical guts and dynamism, he looks outwards. McKuen looks inwards, the introspective loner in faded jeans, riding the range of the recording studios and babbling, like Falstaff on his death bed, of green fields.

In these sequences McKuen throws himself on the world like an open sore and records the pain and balm that come his way. He is passive from the opening stanza :-

“. . . I travelled not to Tiburon or Tuscany
but battled back and forth
between the breasts and thighs
of those who fancied for a time
my forelock and my foreskin.”

Always he is the innocent: “Fields of wonder/ are the places God goes walking,/ I found them by mistake and I’ve trespassed.” And he makes his position clear:-

Love I wore
As open as a wound
a mad mistake I know
but love, like Lent,
only comes to those of us
who still believe.

We are not, in all honesty, so far away from the wonderful world of Patience Strong (“A smile is a light in the window of the face that shows that the heart is at home”) and even in pain the quiet, consoling voice preludes sleep. He has added a tentative awareness of sexuality to this simplistic view of life (“I have in common with all men/a lump in swimming trunks”), but it seems a faintly embarrassing itch, lost beneath sententious, didactic clumsiness when the message is rammed home.

Only a few of these collected verses are intended as lyrics for music. But they are often ridden with the kind of imagery that sounds probing when murmured through a microphone but which fails to survive reading: “There were fences that I leapt/and some that I slid under,/even when I knew I’d tear my pants.” Now and then, though, McKuen does come up with the goods as here: “The sawdust made/by two lives rubbed together/is as useless in the cover up/of changing feelings/as the kind spread thinly/on the floors of butcher shops …”

Twelve Years of Christmas is a collection of annual messages to his friends between 1958 and 1969. They are summings up of the past year, very personal and idiosyncratic. Ironically, their very intimacy makes them far more immediate and interesting than the pomposities of the bigger sequences. Here, in such verses as The Jazz Palace and El Monte Rod McKuen does indeed nearly approach the quality of Jacques Brel. The style of these Christmas messages is less effortful, the lines more fluent, the experiences more relevant than in Fields of Wonder.

MORE THAN ONE ALICE IN WONDERLAND

05-197208xx-7

The Professional Homosexual

prof“We have a great and momentous task before us which can only be performed through diligence and mixing with the right people. I do my bit by getting around and speaking to groups. This week, for example, I am talking to some Young Conservatives in Liverpool on Monday, I have a Rotary Club luncheon on Tuesday, dinner with a few selected MPs on Wednesday. Thursday I am down to speak in a debate on pornography in Cambridge and on Friday at the preliminary, sub-agenda, preplanning committee of the NFHO. Meanwhile I have to write eight articles for magazines ranging from the Police Gazette to Forum and work on my own definitive book on the subject. Yes it’s a busy life. I am also involved with the following organisations: The Kensington Womens Information Movement (KWIM), the Camp Activist Volunteers and the Political Action Group (CAV and PAG), also the Homosexual Information Movement and the Homophile Erotic Research Society (HIM and HERS), then there’s the Gay International Go-Go’ Lads Excursion Society (GIGGLES) and the Co-operative Underground News Trust which is well-known. My book of gay recipes will be coming out in the Autumn, but I have no plans to come out myself as no one knows my real name. There’s little time for love life, I agree, but I don’t exactly waste my time on those inter-city trains, you know.”

The Gay Type

gay“My dear, such a divine party last night, absolutely scrumptious drinkies you made, sweetie. What was it? Gin and passion fruit juice? Oh you wicked queen. And how’s that darling Sam you dragged in from the cottage? He did looked dropped on when he came in, those leather boots . . . mmm . . . so brave of you, I do hope I’m so bold when I’m your age, petal. Was he good in bed? Sam I mean?

Oh . . he did? . . . he didn’t. . . did he now? I . . . did you? . . . you did? Oh, full marks lovie … Oh no! how awful . . . still you will take risks won’t you, heavenly? . . . is your mother alright now, then? … oh goodie . . . a game old bird I always thought. Some of us thought we’d toddle along to the Garden tonight for ducky Rudi in Swanners . . . why not slip into something tight and join us . . . do you good after that nasty experience last night. Champers in the Crush Bar? Tempting? Then the Inigo Jones afterwards? Oh just Johnny and Dolly and Tiny and lil’ ’ol me . . . oh no, we can’t stand her with her pinstripe trousers and Turnbull and Asser shirts, so passé and so serious, darling. That’s lovely then, tonight at the Garden . . . oh, no one will notice the black eye if you wear shades.

I know, put a bit of raw steak on it if you can stand any more red meat in a week if you see what I mean . . . byeeeee”

A Simple but Butch, Soul

simple“Well, it’s like this yer see. some Saturday nights I lose me mates at the Elephant and get up West, see? Wander into one of them pubs, buy myself a half a bitter and stand about a bit. Never takes long. One of ’em come up -‘what’ll you, have?’ Always have a whisky. Then we get chatting and its “Why not finish off the evening at my place?” he says. “Why not” I says and a taxi it is, all the way up to Hampstead or Kensington or Notting Hill Gate. Sometimes its Kensington. Quite like that, I don’t have to stay the night ‘cos I can walk home, see. I don’t hold it against them, they can’t help being that way can they? And I don’t hold with violence of any sort, that’s where me and my mates differ, like. Good boy, I am. Go back with them good as gold. Another drink and a Shirley Bassey record. Yeah, she’s alright. A bit skinny for my taste, still you can’t have everything can you? Then we get down to it . . . you know. Well, me, I just lie back and enjoy it, let them do all the work, after all that’s what they like innit? No, I wouldn’t do that . . . no its not that I don’t hold with it, its like I say, each to his own.

But it’s not my thing. We have good times, sometimes I see them again. Kiss? Christ! mate, what do you think I am, a fucking pansy?

The Sanctuary Queen

sanctuary“Well you see, we believe that homosexuals are real people and that love is the most important thing in the world. Actually, we don’t use the word homosexual at all, but prefer to say homophiles which means lovers. You see, we believe that we homophiles (you see?) must prove that we are real human people by doing things for those less fortunate than ourselves. What sort of thing? Well, we sell flowers on street corners and collect rags on a door to door basis. Some of us are rather keen to go round the neighbourhood cleaning cars and doing odd jobs for housewives. You see, we must convince everyone that we are real people and help them in important, real things. No, I couldn’t possibly give you my name, heavens no, sir. It’s so dangerous to do that, I mean people might find out I’m a homophile mightn’t they? And I can’t give you my address, oh no, that would be too difficult, my canary is terribly sensitive. That doesn’t matter you see, what does matter is that we really try and show everyone that homophiles are exactly the same as everyone else. Oh no, my friends don’t know about me. Well, I take my sister out a lot and I have a girl friend too – I think she knows, but it’s never actually spoken of, you understand, I take her out a lot so people don’t start wondering about me. You see – it’s really easy to adjust and live a normal healthy life, if you really try.”

A Responsible Person

responsible“As I see it, there’s no point in going around with placards screaming that one is gay. I mean who’s interested? People have their own problems, don’t they. Anyway. I don’t want to lose my friends. Friends I’ve had for twenty or more years would drop me if they thought I was . . . like I am. There is no difference between homosexual people and straight people at all, so its just a question of working quietly towards proving this. I’m in favour of homosexual marriages, for example, in church if you like. You probably think that’s very radical don’t you? But if people could see homosexual pair bonds setting up home just like they do, don’t you think they’d feel easier? I don’t think homosexuals should get mixed up with women, or people under 21, or transvestites or anyone who might give us a bad image. I’ve no time tor students, after all its not so long to wait before you’re 21 is it? I think demonstrations do more harm than good on the whole. Its a better feeling just to go along to a meeting and chat to a few other blokes, have a beer, smoke a pipe or two and exchange ideas. That’s what it’s all about, really. Good fellowship. If we don’t bother anyone else, no one will bother us will they?”

A Liberationist

liberationist“Society is wrong it’s the capitalist system that bugs us all and all the competitiveness and role-playing we’re forced to do that’s why I think we should all refuse to work and live in communes, let everyone find their own way through it all, our struggle is a class struggle our fight is the same as the fight for women’s rights and black people’s rights and the workers’ rights isn’t it get all that sorted out and everyone will be happy everyone should come out as quickly as possible everyone should make it clear they are gay we’ve got to push it down their throats in their suburban gardens it’s no good stealing their children they wouldn’t care burn their garages that’s what they understand property do away with private property and gay people will be free to fight on no I don’t do a job why should I society has made me what I am so society can jolly well keep me right if I want to wear drag, then I will because it’s what I want to wear and its nothing to do with being butch or bitch or any of that crap so I wear a dress and I paint my nails so what that’s me I would go leafletting on Saturday night with you but its my sister’s coming-out party it’s rather important to her and mummy that I’m there so I shall have to dash off to Moss Bros now for a white tux. Right on!”

RADIO GAY

05-197208xx-8The Campaign for Homosexual Equality has been given two hours of air space on Radio London. On August 30 it will take over the regular Wednesday evening programme, Platform, which gives minority and pressure groups a chance to sound off about their aims and objects and particular points of view.

Though the programme will clearly act as a recruiting opportunity for Che, it does have much wider reverberations and will cover most aspects of the homophile situation. In particular special attention will be paid to the age of consent, the implications of the IT judgement and the extraordinary situation of the female homosexual and the bi-sexual. Real people will spell it out and there will be several authoritative voices in the studio including representatives of the Gay News collective.

Platform is one of those programmes during which listeners are invited to telephone questions in as the discussion continues. This is a vital part of the programme and it is hoped that gay people throughout London will gather round their VHF wavebands and phone in. August 30th. 8.15 pm. The studio telephone number will be given regularly during the course of the programme.

Where is CHE?

04-197208XX 08One thing is abundantly clear: The Campaign for Homosexual Equality in London holds a strong appeal for an amazing variety of people, from the teenager to the GOAP. This has posed problems-of direction, action, administration. The only thing all our members have absolutely in common is that they are gay or bisexual. Attitudes become polarized quickly and harden. Dialogue is abrasive but continual.

Membership increases steadily. Word-of-mouth information spreads rapidly demolishing the idea that Che is some kind of a cloak and dagger operation which gained ground in some touchy quarters. I wore my Che badge at the St. Pancras GLF dance and was subjected to all kinds of unsolicited abuse from total strangers. But Che has absolutely got to offer a homc-if you like-to everyone. A sense of oppression is not confined to the articulate young. The older, inhibited, repressed or just downright shy gay is conscious of taking a tremendous step in joining.

THE GROUPS

These are the very root of the organisation, the essential framework within which anything and everything is possible At the moment there are 11 groups based in central London with others in Croydon (very flourishing, active and successful), Lewisham. Windsor, Essex, Kent, Brighton, Reading, the Chilterns, St. Albans and Ilford. Local community groups are established in Kensington, Highbury and Islington, Kilburn and Ealing.

Each group has a minimum of 30 members. They meet once a month which is any member’s minimal committment. Some meet fortnightly, some every week. Each group evolves its own characteristic; some are rather inclined to social-type meetings, others prefer discussion and debates. Others are making definite progress towards liaison and meetings with representatives of other bodies. Any Che member can go to any meeting. Very involved people can generally make a meeting of some sort every night.

Groups set up their own social activities-parties, picnics, rallies, theatres, cinemas-anything to provide a useful and pleasant social scene for people who are a bit lonely and cut off.

YOUTH GROUP

This is the central-London group for students and young people; it is large, expanding, coherent. Runs a remarkably well-balanced programme meaning some two or three meetings a week. The programme runs on (a) meetings that could be called educational-i.e. visits from psychologists, doctors, boss-figures who talk, debate and get harassed in turn; (b) purely social activity, (c) activist events leafletting etc. The establishment of Gaysoc at London University has meant a lot of campus infiltration, notable invasion of ‘straight’ discos etc.

A move to approach the headmasters of 200 schools asking for permission to address senior pupils on homosexuality is under way.

EVENTS

The virtually limitless energy of a great many members is being harnessed into fund-raising activities which produces a full calendar of events ranging from dances and discos to bazaars and boat trips. Sub-groups concerned with drama, poetry, music and photography are under way. One of the main aims of Che nationally is to provide decent social meeting places for gays and it now seems likely that the first permanent club will be in London, providing facilities for meetings, rest, research, the lot. No one imagines it will happen overnight and everyone realises that only we can do it-no one else is going to help us. Hence the fundraising events which serve a twin purpose of raising cash and providing amusing evenings.

WORKING PARTIES

Several working parties are in operation, open to all members.

1. Social Responsibilities

Designed to look at social problems which impinge upon the homosexual community and affect all facets of life. To do research into the causes and effects of legislation and to assess the public’s image of the homophile with a view to improving it.

2. Gay Liaison

Making contact with all homophile organisations throughout the world. Much reciprocal membership with gay clubs etc. abroad now established.

3. Speakers

People willing to go out and talk to other organisations-like Rotary Clubs. Women’s Institutes. Parent-Teachers etc.-about being gay. Most invitations so far from Young Liberals. Friends, Young Conservatives, Mental Health Associations. But it all helps.

4. Religious

People with a deep religious or spiritual experience, plus those concerned with the churches of all denominations and their attitudes to homosexuality.

5. Friend

Perhaps the most important, significant and successful venture in Che so far. Essentially a befriending service, set up by Michael Launder in co-operations with the Rev. Michael Butler who is the Deputy Director of the Samaritans. Premises for individual interviews and group work on two nights a week have been secured. Friend is advertised to new enquiries to Che and response is channelled to existing regional branches-Manchester, the trans-Pennines, Cambridge, Liverpool and Leeds. The rest to the London headquarters. About IS new enquiries arrive each week in this way. Later Friend will be in operation five nights a week, and it is expected that within a year a national network will be established enabling Friend to be advertised to the general public. Apart from

the obvious service of help on an immediate basis. Friend is keeping a record of its progress so that eventually an analysis of the type of problems dealt with will be regularly available to professional bodies and the press.

6. Lunch

This is the London-based magazine produced by Che members. It is not representative of official policy at local or national level. Intended primarily as a communications sheet, it remains the only regular magazine with a reliable diary of all gay events-Che, GLF,

SMG and others, London and national. Developing into a vivacious platform for all sorts of ideas and views. Lots of contributions needed from everyone, everywhere. Six issues, post paid, cost £1.50 from 23 Avon Court, Keswick Road, London SW1$ 2JU. 32 pages, pictures, news, letters, etc.

WOMEN

Implicit in the above notes is that Che involves gay women just as much as gay men. The name of the organisation has meant that initially it appealed to men. But the intake of women is now regular and growing. There is no group exclusive to women, they belong to groups along with the men.

WHERE IS CHE?

Che began in 1964, but it was only after the passing of the Sexual Offences Act that it was able to expand properly. Its history is now a matter of history. But the result is that its headquarters are in Manchester. Nationally we have almost 3,000 members-and these are members who have paid a £1.50 annual sub. to the organisation. Money used for our office and paid staff, for producing the monthly bulletin for members, for producing pamphlets, leaflets, stickers, posters, to help start new Che groups all over the country which are sometimes an alternative but mostly the only scene for gay people. We are often accused of being over-structured. This is simply the outsider’s confusion. Che runs remarkably smoothly considering the number of people involved and the almost limitless range of responsibilities we have undertaken. Until we have acquired permanent premises in London, enquiries must be routed through Manchester. So write direct to the General Secretary, Paul Temperton, 28 Kennedy Street, Manchester, M2 4BG (061-228 1985). Or to Roger Baker. Flat F, 23/24 Great James Street, London, WC1N 3ES.

Fear Into Falsehood

04-197208XX 09Sex and Dehumanization, by David Holbrook. (Pitman, £2)

During the last few years. David Holbrook — poet, educationalist and now Writer-in-Residence at Darlington Hall College of Art – has signed innumerable letters and articles in the popular press, all highly critical of aspects of our culture today, aspects that may be bundled up under the heading of “permissive tendencies”. His name is, in fact, automatically associated with those of Lord Longford and Mary Whitehouse. And though undeniably thoughtful and intelligent, he does share with all the critics of the permissive society a faculty for making blanket generalisations, for overestimating a situation and for exaggerating a fear into a falsehood.

Few people, I feel, would contest David Holbrook’s basic thesis in this book. That there is an increasing divorce between sex and love and that in our society, advertising, pornography and entertainment often place undue emphasis on people as sex objects, especially women.

However, the method he uses to explore this not particularly original thought, and the conclusions he draws over 212 pages are highly debatable. Most important is method.

Expressed simply, what Holbrook has done is amass on one side evidence of what he calls dehumanized sexuality, and on the other side support for his own views. His targets are sexologists such as Masters and Johnson, writers such as Alex Comfort and Wayland Young, events like “Oh! Calcutta!” (which drives him into some kind of frenzy every time he thinks about it) and publications such as Man and Woman (A weekly magazine which builds up into an encyclopaedia of sexual knowledge), and sex technique manuals.

Evidence for the prosecution, as it were, is drawn almost entirely from the writings of a small body of psychoanalysts from what is known as the ‘object-relations’ school. Of course this imposes very rigid limits on his thesis. It would not matter particularly if Holbrook has made it absolutely clear that this was one particular view. But over and over again he asserts that the insights of his team of pet psychoanalysts are, in fact, something amounting to eternal truths.

Let us see how this works. Suddenly we come to a chapter, inserted for no good reason as far as I can see, and called with an arrogance only matched by its inaccuracy: “The truth about Perversion”. Sorry, but we have to pause a minute here to find out what he means by ‘perversion’. This is not easy. According to the glossary, the definition he prefers is that of Rycroft: “Any form of adult sexual behaviour in which heterosexual intercourse is not the preferred goal”.

Perversion should then, include such activities as masturbation, exhibitionism, homosexuality, bestiality and so on. However, his chapter which is going to tell us the truth about perversion seems to refer entirely to homosexuality and in particular to female homosexuality.

He begins by attacking two articles on lesbians one by Victoria Brittain in The Times and one by Virginia Ironside in 19. His complaint about the latter, among other things is that the writer “did not consult any independent authority on psychosexual disorders. She merely consults lesbians (his italics, p. 97).

Holbrook then turns (presumably for independent evidence) to a group of papers by Masud Khan who is the Editor of the International Psychoanalytical Library. Khan is a highly respected, and to those who know and work with him. a truly charismatic figure. And his work is, naturally, highly valued in his field. However, the special study of perversion (ie. homosexuality) he has made is the result of “twenty years experience of a dozen pervert patients”. This I would have thought amounted to, in the wider context, an extremely limited and definitely biased view of the homosexual. To justify his use of Khan’s material as a statement of general truth, Holbrook writes: “… this conclusion was reached from what perverts in analysis told the therapist, it is their truth, not one imposed upon them”, (p. 99).

Setting aside the extremely debatable idea that a patient in analysis is quite free of imposed views, Holbrook is saying in effect that what a well-adjusted lesbian tells a writer is inadmissable, yet what an unhappy individual tells his psychologist (after twenty years of analysis?) is on the other hand true and acceptable, not just for that person but for all other gay people.

(And a passing note that on page 9S, Holbrook refers to an organisation for lesbians called Kensic. This could be attributed to a proof-reader’s oversight, yet Kenric is similarly misspelled in the index. Indicative that in the most literal way Holbrook doesn’t know what he’s takling about and, moreover, has done none of that essential independent research himself).

This method, and the unconscious attitudes it reveals, pervade the entire book. At times a touch of egregious colouring inhabits his prose as when he refers to “naked couples (having) sexual intercourse publicly on rafts in the swimming pools” (p. 21). Would it have been better for them to be clothed? or naked but not having sex? or not on a raft? or on the sea and not a pool? And when he remarks on “some photographs of a nude dancer, complete with pubic hair and all” (p. 27). Better if she was depilated? or not dancing? and what on earth is “and all”?

The book is extremely difficult to read because Holbrook uses so many quotations from his psychoanalytical reading. It is as if he lacks all courage to state his own views boldly without dragging in such support. A dependency problem, maybe?

All this said. I would advise everyone to try and read this book. For two main reasons. First a great deal of what he says should be said. Holbrook is concerned about dehumanisation by separation of sex from love. One of the points of gay movements, in my understanding. is to try to bridge this gap in the homosexual world. Homosexuals, above all, have been still are – victims of this, revealed in the often expressed view that homosexuality is just a sexual thing (ie. a genital activity) and does not involve the whole person. Gay movements prove this wrong.

The second reason for reading Sex A Dehumanization would be as an exercise for the individual to articulate his thoughts on the subject of sex. It is absolutely no good tossing this book aside with little cries of “rubbish!” just because Holbrook is offensive. He projects a forceful argument forcefully. It needs to be answered forcefully – and thoughtfully.

Platform Wreathed With Flowers

03-197207XX-03Che’s all-London Congress could, depending on your standpoint, be regarded as a success. Quite a few ideas were aired, there was none of the tension that has sometimes characterized previous mass meetings. The platform had been wreathed with flowers. Maybe thats why. About 200 people turned up and sat in grave rows in the Holborn Assembly Rooms. Gavin chaired alone, deciding (rightly) we could do without a line of glum celebrities flanking him.

Most of the time was spent discussing the Che club. The establishment of a nation-wide series of non-profit making, well equipped clubs for homosexual men and women is one of Che’s prime aims. It looks as though it is up to London Che to do it being bigger and therefore richer (though not necessarily wiser) than the provincial groups.

The treasurer told us early that the Building Fund now stood at £449.96. A great deal of discussion ensued about priorities – that is, should this club start right off as a sort of C.O.C. enterprise, or was the acquisition of a small permanent office more important just now? David Bell claimed that the Che club would “be the one thing that Che is known for the world over”. Gavin decided it was not very rewarding to look to Europe where things were different and had been so for some lime.

A few lone voices expressed doubt about the wisdom of apparently competing with existing gay clubs, and someone else told us to avoid the church hall syndrome since members wouldn’t come to meetings.

However, this wasn’t exactly supported as the entire meeting heavily agreed that they would attend Che meetings no matter where they were held. The temperature rose just before half time when one guy, obviously cheesed off with the debating stood up and threw a 50p piece on the floor and bullied everyone to do the same. His idea was action now and to hell with the chat. His enthusiasm was partly infectious as that little episode added an instant £70.86 to the Building Fund.

There was some inconclusive chat about Che’s central London groups and the growing number of local ones. We heard that gramophone enthusiasts, poetry-lovers, drama-buffs, car rally maniacs, musical souls, sporting types were now being catered for by a series of groups set up to pursue these hobbies. There was to be a choir as well, and a sports club. And a dining club.

The assembly was intended to provide an opportunity for members to sound off about Che, to criticize and make suggestions. So the larger part of time was spent, inevitably, on internal topics. But the meeting was opened and closed by discussion of more general and more relevant topic. Immediately the dynamic Jacquie Forster of Sappho harrangued the meeting about male-domination of Che. “Do you spend any time at all thinking about Lesbians?” she cried, “equality must mean more girls in Che”. And we agreed. There was, she added, no evidence of any campaigning activities. And why not? The IT case was touched upon, but briefly with a reminder that a great many people had written letters to all sorts of publications and indeed, that week Che had scored highly with letters published.

Altogether the meeting produced a tremendous feeling of unity, enthusiasm and confidence that in London Che is doing the right thing and beginning to do it rather well.