Who’s Whose What?

“Girl Stroke Boy” – Directed by Bob Kellett – Starring Joan Greenwood, Michael Horden, Clive Francis, Straker – Classic Victoria (834 6388) – Cert “X”

05-197208xx-8The basic idea is good, and has a lot of potential – two boys are in love, and want to meet each others parents. How will they break the news, and what will the reactions be?

Unfortunately, that is all it remains – a good idea, which gets swallowed in a mess of theatrical jokes and finally drowns in a confused sea of innuendo. Why Ned Sherrin thought this script, which flopped on the West End stage, was “a strange comedy . . . perfect for the times”, remains a mystery.

We see the whole situation from the point of view of Laurie’s parents, in their middle-class home counties residence, coping with bitchy neighbours, central heating jammed at full blast, and the nagging worry that their son has never shown any interest in girls. What, then, will his West Indian girlfriend be like? Mother, who writes romantic novels, including one titled ‘Love in Marrakesh’, feels that all will be well when she has her boy home, although her racial prejudice makes that unlikely. Dad, played with some depth by Michael Horden, wants peace after a tough week at the sec.modern school where he is headmaster, and when the young people arrive, he attempts to keep the situation calm.

Mother (Joan Greenwood) doesn’t know the meaning of the word, and the ambiguity of the girlfriend, Jo (Straker – Peter Straker of ‘Hair’ to his friends) leads to some of the nastiest bitching since ‘Till Death Do Us Part’.

The son, Laurie (Clive Francis) attempts to protect Jo from his mother, but she has her say, several times, until we see what Laurie means when he tells her he showed her books to his psychiatrist, and “he couldn’t believe they were written by a happily married woman”. While the ‘young people’ escape to the pub, Lettice persuades her husband to phone Jo’s parents – Michael Horden has his best moment panicking over the telephone – only to find that the Caribbean High Commissioner and his wife are looking forward to meeting Jo’s girlfriend Laurie. A row follows when Laurie and Jo find out about Lettice’s spying, and the story limps to a close in which the family close ranks in the face of an evil neighbour, the boys claim to be married, and Jo asks if he/she can call Lettice “Mother”. What a cop-out.

There are some good moments, including Michael Horden’s sincere but confused assertion: “I don’t give a damn if she’s a man – if she is she’s a jolly fine chap!”, and a radio weather report which refers to snow “in the homosexual counties”. The setting, a country house referred to in the credits as Faggot’s End, is attractive, if rather cramped, and one feels that the cast, especially the inimitable Miss Greenwood would really have felt happier on a stage. From the point of view of gay awareness, the film is so cramped it hasn’t even opened the closet door, and don’t let any publicist tell you otherwise.

The 1967 Confidence Trick (2)

02-197206XX 3(from page 3)

into doubt all the good work achieved by people who have no connection with obscene publications, but whose first desire is to create a caring and happy society. Fresh legislation is now imperative in the light of this recent development. – I am etc.
IAN C. DUNN, Chairman,
Scottish Minorities Group.

From The Evening Standard, 26th June, 1972.

 

NOW – A GAY PRIDE DEMO

Sir: Milton Shulman’s article ‘Dockers and Homosexuals’ accurately portrays the effects of the recent Appeals decision. Any ordinary person who has been involved in a trial cannot fail to be astounded at how out of touch with present reality most judges seem to be.

What the I.T. decision does is to put many persons, including myself, in peril of arrest, trial and umprisonment. On July 1, there will be a GayPride Demo in Trafalgar Square. The purpose of this clearly is to advocate homosexual practice for homosexuals and to protest against the continued oppression of homosexuals in our society, the 1967 Act notwithstanding. I, and other gay people will continue to defy this absurd law. To be arrested for advocating legal activity is something only a judge would appear not to find ludicrous. Let Parliament speedily remedy the situation or vote money to house a rapidly expanding prison population.

Warren Hague (address supplied)

 

The Guardian, 19th June, 1972

HOMOSEXUALS IN ISOLATION

Sir,
The law acknowledges the right of homosexuals to make love. By rejecting IT’s appeal, the House of Lords continues to support the law’s illogical refusal to allow homosexuals to meet. There an no circumstances under which they can meet. Not in the streets, which is importuning; not in properly conducted social clubs because none is allowed to exist.

Such repression encourages recourse to a few dubious pubs and furtive drinking clubs that cater for homosexuals; it encourages desperate efforts to make contact in public with the consequent risk of police prosecution. It encourages the growth of increasingly militant homosexual organisation. It throws and is throwing, an increasingly large burden on the Samaritans and other social service groups – the only people that the isolated homosexual knows he can turn to.

To use the Ladies Directory case (a list, I understand, of prostitutes) as a precedent for dealing with ordinary homosexual people is appalling enough. But their Lordships decision represents a major piece of discrimination against a section of the community that i,. numerically, larger than our coloured population. The House of Lords was dealing with one underground newspaper; their decision affects the very real needs of isolated people all over the country.
Yours faithfully,
ROGER BAKER
Flat F. 23 Great James Street
London WC1.

 

THE EVENING STANDARD
20th June, 1972.

GAY ADVERTISING

With regard to your news story (June 14) Lords in Clash on Gay Advert, I and the members of the Gay News, would like to point out that we will be carrying personal advertisements for gays of all sexes. We consider it the right of homosexuals to advertise in this way if they so wish, and can see no earthly reason why gays should not be able to do the same as heterosexuals. Hopefully, one day it will not be necessary for any people, no matter what their sexual preference, to advertise in this way. Until gays an free from the isolation imposed on them by society and people in general are released from the misguided taboos that surround sex and sexuality. Gay News will carry personal ads, no matter what the penalty.

Gay News is a national fortnightly paper for gay men and women and will he available this week. – DENNIS LEMON, Gay News, 19 London Street, W.2.

GAY IS ANGRY

02-197206XX 4Wednesday, June 28th, 1972

Dear Gay News,

Yesterday, in London’s Oxford Street, I saw a mob of grotesque, raddled and over-painted nellies carrying placards and banners proclaiming “GAY IS ANGRY”. As they ambled towards Marble Arch whooping, jeering, calling out slogans and four-letter words etc., I couldn’t help bur feel utterly disgusted by their behaviour.

What, I wonder, do such people hope to achieve? Where they in any way sensible they would realise that flaunting themselves through the streets of the Capital will only shower further disgrace on all gays and incite more and more youths to go “queer bashing”.

If the object of “Gay News” is to campaign on behalf of exhibitionists such as these then your battle is completely lost, and you should toss in the towel right away. No self-respecting gay would want to concern himself with these drop-outs. They are a menace, not only to gays, but to the whole of man/womankind.

Yours faithfully
Simon L. Manson.

This letter is a comment on a G.L.F./Radical Feminist action, presumably part of Gay Pride Week. Gay News welcomes other inter pretations of this event.

Imprint

THE GAY NEWS
EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE

  • 01-197205XX 1Richard Adams
    (design)
  • Martin Corbett
  • Ian Dunn
    (Scotland)
  • Denis Lemon
  • Glenys Parry
    (Manchester)
  • Doug Pollard
  • David Seligman

GAY NEWS SPECIAL FRIENDS

  • Roger Baker
  • Graham Chapman
  • John Chesterman
  • Lawrence Collinson
  • Martin Grant
  • Anthony Grey
  • Julian D. Grinspoon
  • Peter MacMillan
  • Suki J. Pitcher
  • Sylvia Room
  • Manus Sasonkin
  • David Sherlock
  • Martin Slavin
  • Jean-Claude Thevenin

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

  • Andrew & Peter
  • Jane & Shaun
  • Richard & Norman
  • Ken & Allan
  • Michael, Angus & Ken
  • and all the other
    Friends & Loved Ones.

CONTENTS

  • Editorial ___________________________ Page 2
  • Speakeasy __________________________ Page 3
  • Scotland ___________________________ Page 5
  • Sex Garage _________________________ Page 7
  • V.D. & Gays _________________________ Page 8
  • Heterosexual of the Month ________________ Page 9
  • No Freedom to Love ____________________ Page 9
  • Marlene Dietrich ______________________ Page 10
  • Personal Ads ________________________ Page 11
  • Information _________________________ Page 12

Gay News is published fortnightly by Gay News Limited
19 London Street, London W2 1HL. Telephone 01-402 7805

Printed by F.I.Litho Limited, 182 Pentonville Road, London N1.
Gay News is the registered Trade Mark of Gay News Limited

Editorial

01-197205XX 1Well, here it is, the first issue of Gay News. It is late and we are sorry about that, but we offer the first excuse and apology in the life of Gay News, and sincerely hope it won’t be the first of a long series. During the coming out of the paper almost everything that could go wrong did. To the people who were brave enough to risk their hard-earned cash an a pre-publication subscription, our very heartfelt thanks. Without you it could never have happened, without your help and support there wouldn’t have been a paper at all. For that we are very grateful, for the chance to bring out Gay News. Not just for ourselves, those of us at present working on the paper, but also for the many friends and helpers who have contributed (and put up with us), and the people who were, for a time, part of the genesis of what you are holding in your hand.

Gay News, as you will doubtless tire of hearing and reading after the first few issues, is not our paper, but yours; it belongs to the whole of the gay community. It’s for gay women as well as gay men. for transexuals and transvestites, for anyone with a sexual label but who we like to call “gays of all sexes”. The first issue alone cannot reach as far as it should into the gay community – to do that it needs your help – but in time we hope it will. Those of us involved in the paper, whether we’re still around or no longer into it, have always held to one unifying idea; that it isn’t and never will be enough just to produce a paper for gay people, we could only begin something, in this case the getting together of a newspaper, which would in the end belong to all gays.

In fact, it has often worried us that our action in bringing out Gay News could and possibly would be interpreted as doing something because we thought other people needed it. That’s not it. We feel that, despite legal reform and a certain relaxation in people’s attitudes to sexuality, that nothing much has really changed. It is clear that many gay people are still extremely isolated, many still live restricted lives. We feel that a medium which could help us all to know what we were all doing, which could put us in contact, and be open evidence of our existence and our rights for the rest of the people to see, could help start the beginning of the end of the present situation. And that goes for all of you who buy the paper as well as we who get it together. Maybe that sounds like another way of saying “we think you need it”, but surely it is only a recognition of how people and institutions through lack of tolerance and understanding, still make it difficult for most gay people to openly be themselves, to live their lives without fear of abuse, prejudice, and worse.

After all, gay people are the same as anyone else; whether you are part of the majority or one of the minorities, you are still people, wanting and needing to share news and information about what everyone else is doing, about what is going on among the others who have taken up a similar life-style. And for us especially, there is still a need to dispel and counteract much ignorance and misinformation. So far we seem to have accepted society’s definition of us as something that’s not very nice, to be seen perhaps but not heard. Isn’t that a little crazy? We are all people with our lives, our hopes, our fears and expectations for what life has in store for us. The beautiful, loving times, the not so joyous moments – this is what we are, and more – and isn’t that simply people? And to be isolated from what goes on in the world around us is not only wrong, it shows up some dangerous cracks in the society we live in.

So a few of us got together just before Christmas 1971, having come to the conclusion that a first step to rectifying this situation would be the creation of a newspaper, to provide news and entertainment, and a forum for all gays. By entertainment, we mean things that can be laughed at and enjoyed – we hope that Gay News will never be so completely serious that no-one could smile, laugh, or maybe happily cringe at parts of it. News is not only the bad things that can happen to us all, but knowing about what others are doing, sharing and achieving. Information is knowing where and when this is going on, so that if you have a mind to you could share in it. Why should’nt gay people know what each other are doing in whatever place it is, wherever you happen to live? But you can’t share in something you don’t know about.

By March, Gay News had an office, and from then on most of the collective business was carried on from there (not difficult on one side is a porn shop, on the other a pub, which seems to be a peculiarity of small newspaper offices in London). The main job then and through April was to let as many people as possible know of our intentions and to start to raise the capital to put the paper on a more definite basis. We wrote to many well-known and monied gays, asking for help and support, but unfortunately the response was rather small. But the subscriptions rolled in, and with the generous help of a few individuals the paper began to take shape.

The collective had now grown to about 15 men and women, some from Gay Liberation Front, some from Campaign for Homosexual Equality, a few worked very hard for Scottish Minorities Group, some were just gay individuals (and some not-so-gay) who felt that Gay News could be the start of something important.

Money has always been a problem, but by April other and possibly more important obstacles had appeared. Some of those involved began to have doubts, about the amount of work involved, about the compromises they would have to make with their own political and alternative ideals. Some of us became bored with this destructive soul-searching and lack of action on practicalities. Some of us despaired at the way in which we seemed so small and isolated a group to attempt the task of pulling together a newspaper, and about the lack of response and general wariness with which the whole venture was being treated, except for the adventurous prepared to risk a subscription and our few but generous contributors. There were a few heated rows, many tears, and a general air of disappointment and frustration. It seemed as though we wouldn’t be able to pull it off after all. So we suspended operations for a while until people made up their minds as to whether they or the paper would go on. In the end we did continue with a smaller collective, and you an holding the result.

We talk, and always will be doing, about the Gay News Collective. By collective, we mean the people who are presently engaged in getting the paper together. There is no editor, art director, sales manager or whatever, we are all equally responsible for everything, and by the same token, no one person is in a position of greater authority than any other. We feel this to be important; if this is to be a paper for all gays, then

Of course, the rows continue, but the situation is far healthier. We had been deceiving ourselves about the amount of work involved, we didn’t know how difficult it all was, but now we must just get on with it to the best of our collective abilities. Despite all that, the paper has become great fun, and looks like being more so in future issues. We can but hope.

it is impossible to lay down a given direction for the paper, and a collective arrangement without positions of authority reflects the flexibility we need and will hopefully have. No one person has any more say than anyone else, whether they are writing, designing, pasting down photographs or whatever. And this collective is completely open-ended; anyone interested enough to want to help produce and continue Gay News is welcome, no matter what their sex, politics, or any other quirks of personality. You’re welcome anyway, even if you want to drop by for a chat and a nose around the office but beware, it isn’t large enough for coach parties.

Gay News is based in London. There isn’t really any element of choice or design about this – London happens to be where most of us live and when we started getting it together. So in spite of the fact that we feel it’s wrong for so many things to be based in London, this is where the paper is produced, printed, and distributed from. But we hope the paper will never become just a London paper, covering only what the capital city is up to. People actively involved with the paper are spread over most of the country, admittedly fairly thinly at the moment, but with your help that will soon change (hint! hint!). Most active centres as far as work on the paper is concerned are Manchester, Edinburgh, and London, with possible developments in Eire and some of the county towns. With your help, we will print more information and news from more areas of the country, and with greater involvement from the homosexual community, Gay News could, can, and will become much more than it is now. This is only when we begin.

However, to return to the saga. May was the most hectic period in the paper’s short life. Printers had to be found, design finally decided upon, all the articles and information that had come to us had to be sorted, and the shape and content of the first few issues planned. We have also had to arrange our own distribution, as our dear friends W. H. Smith and Sons weren’t over anxious to touch us, and distributors like Moore-Harness could not be used because of the cost, but with the help of a friendly bookshop in Brighton we have tied to spread the paper over as much of the country as possible. In the very near future we hope it’ll be easier to get the paper from your local bookshop or in the gay pubs and clubs in your town. And if you have any ideas about a bookshop round your way that might sell us and doesn’t, you have only to drop us a line and we’ll write to him or her.

So far that gives you several things to think about – the news and information that you can send us to print, the letters and comments you have to write so that we know what you think, the bookshop round the comer that might be one more outlet  – and that is what we mean when we say it’s your paper. None of there things we can do for you – we an asking you to do them for us. for yourselves, for your paper. Gay News will not have any single viewpoint, nor will it be aligned to any gay movement. It is open to all to use it as a medium of news and expression. We will try, for our part, to be honest and objective about what goes into the paper, and in what we put there ourselves.

Thank you very much for your patience, thank you very much for buying the copy you are reading. From now on it’s all yours. The paper belongs to everyone.

Speak-not-so-Easy. Or how Jimmy Saville almost went Gay

01-197205XX 2We knew the programme was going to be about homosexuals again, but, like everyone else except Michael Butler of the Samaritans, who was, it seems, doing the inviting, we didn’t know when or where. I rang Rev. Roy Trevivian’s secretary, who made apologetic noises about the smallness of the room, and the ‘specially invited audience’, so I politely solicited such an invitation for four of us from the paper. She promised to check with the producer himself to are if there was room, and to phone us back the following day. Neither she nor anyone else at the B.B.C. had the courtesy to bother. The day after that I phoned again, only to get the same blurb from the same girl, but this time she added that they’d made up their audience list yesterday and we’d been left out as we weren’t really suitable, and she was terribly sorry. At no time was Roy Trevivian available in person, so we were told. They had come across us “in our researches”. So much for Gay News.

The next stage in the saga took place whilst we were having a collective meeting, and it came to light that one of the C.H.E. members of the collective had been invited to be part of that audience. He had first been telephoned and asked to keep Thursday evening free for “something rather secret”. Later that same week he had been phoned again and told it was another edition of Speakeasy on Homosexuality. Someone else had told him where and when it was to be recorded, but he was “officially” told, by phone, whilst we were sitting in our meeting on the very day it was to be recorded! It was becoming clear that only nice, safe, respectable homosexuals who would conform to the B.B.C.’s idea of the programme and of Gayness were going to get in. As to who decided the criteria for this we weren’t, and still aren’t, quite sure, but since the invitations we knew of had come from Rev. Michael Butler and all his angels, and since it also seemed that both he and the B.B.C. had assumed Gay News was a synonym for Gay Lib., he was the obvious man to contact.

The reasons for all the secrecy and exclusion about a programme supposedly concerned with free speech and letting the unedited words of ‘ordinary people’ out over the air waves was then made clear. I was told that every effort was being made to exclude GLF because the B.B.C. did not want them there, and had threatened to scrap the show if they did get on. I was told that GLF had “ruined” the last edition of Speakeasy on this subject, (all this meant was that one GLF member actually took 5 minutes to finish what he was saying, which the producer didn’t like anyway) forcing the B.B.C. to re-record part of the programme in order to cut out what they had said (!) and that in any case another organisation would be “represented in a roundabout way”. When asked if I was in GLF I replied that I was, but that I wished to be present on the programme as Gay News. The reply was to the effect that what was really wanted was people as people, not as organisations, (though on the programme itself it was clear that everyone there was from some organisation, and, like me, determined to plug it. That’s all very well. but without GLF or Gay News it would have been a depressingly one-sided picture). But Michael Butler did at last relent, bless his heart, and said it was O.K., I could come along, he was sorry to be so cagey about it, and I could bring one other person if I could “guarantee them”, whatever that meant. So the three of us who went from Gay News were placed in the unfortunate position of trying to make the distinction between GLF and Gay News clear, whilst all being members of both. Though GLF did come to know of when and when it was, no-one could be bothered to come although several apparently promised to, largely because no-one at the B.B.C. bothered to correct their impression that it was being recorded, as it usually is, on Friday, when it was,i n fact, done on Thursday.

So, who an we to believe in this welter of secrecy and intrigue from the public broadcasting body and its ‘friends’? Roy Trevivian, along with his secretary, his researcher, and Jimmy Saville, who all, when asked, spread their thin little story about limited space (and why not in the Paris Studio on Friday? Oh, because Jimmy’s going away on Friday. So why not do it another week?) and invited audience amongst whom there was ample space for twenty more at least; or are we to believe the man they seem to have put in charge of the inviting? The whole setup was an open invitation to GLF to disrupt, and they would have been more than justified in doing so. And who told them Gay News was GLF? Why didn’t they bother to do their research properly? Who else did they miss out, and why?

It seemed very ironic to be asked in the course of the programme if we felt that gay people got a fair deal from the media. The point is that we very largely get no deal whatsoever, unless it is either patronising, derogatory, or just plain ignorant, and this bunch, apart from taking comfort from the unctuous phrases of the Albany Trust and the Samaritans, went all three. Their hypocrisy as regards their public image of the programme is self evident. Like most other broadcasts, the people they invite are not there to show how they feel to the general public, and thus present the truth, but to conform to what the producer wants them to look and sound like so as to enhance what he is going to say. Why else is almost everything on radio or television pre-recorded – to render it safe. So why do they wish to exclude the most open and vocal sections of the gay community from the media, when they open to the gay community at all? Because they are not going to be manipulated, as gay people always are, to suit somebody else’s concept of us, and thus be party to even the most liberal and well-meaning lie, such as Speakeasy is.

Your nearest Bottle of Librium

01-197205XX 2The B.B.C.’s Religious Broadcasts Department are proud of their forum-cum-chat show, “Speakeasy” broadcast on Radio 1 on Sunday afternoons. They make pretty sure their audience knows it too, making a point of announcing that Speakeasy is the only show of its kind in the world, where the ordinary-man-in-the-street can come in and voice his opinions on any topic which happens to be discussed at the time. Jimmy Saville, who chairs the show, encourages the assembled audience to speak our and participate (via the roving microphones), since the show is (to paraphrase both the producer, Roy Trevivian, and Jimmy Saville in the warm-up period) 80% yours, to do as you like – the panel of experts here are purely for technical guidance and know-how.

Needless to say, after all this is said, the audience, sometimes gets a word in edgeways.

On the Friday that “Speakeasy” recorded a discussion on sports and subsidies, Jimmy Saville closed the show by saying something that provoked a stifled, embarrassed laughter – if you had heard it, it would have sent you grasping for your nearest bottle of librium. He told the audience that, unfortunately, they wouldn’t hold the next show at its usual home, the Paris studio, not because it was going on the road, but because they were dealing with a rather controversial and sensitive subject, to which you probably wouldn’t come anyway – that of homosexuality. Thus contradicting their own publicity blurb about Free Speech and Man in the Street. It obviously stirred a lot of interest amongst the Gay Brothers who either happened to be there, or heard of it through the grapevine.

Subsequently our gay friends made furtive enquiries to Rev. Roy Trevivian the producer and in each case reached his secretary, who then, in turn, handed the phone to the researcher, Pat Honey.

When asked why Gay Liberation or Gay News hadn’t been invited to send representatives, and where the programme was being recorded, and why it was being done secretly, without being open to interested parties, she gave a reply to the effect that: The programme was being held in a small room before an already selected audience, which couldn’t be enlarged upon “for obvious reasons”.
No further questions or comments were put to Miss Honey, and she volunteered no information herself, except that the might ring up Gay News to see what they have to say.

(G.L.F. source) 18/5/72

“Over there Mr. Roving Mike”

01-197205XX 3Over the airwaves came this sane, rational, slightly wary programme, busy with being reasonable, a little tinged with nervousness and heavily colourwashed with a genteel shade of apologia. But the programme as she is spoke was a little different.

You couldn’t see the paraphenalia of speakers and microphones, the small group of hard chairs in a room fit to hold at least twenty more. And a good many chairs were empty. You didn’t have to sit through the build-up from the producer and Jimmy… about how they hated to edit the programme, so no cussin’ and so on. About the number of listeners, to remind us of our responsibility. About who we were, anywhere we came from and again the confusion of Gay News with Gay Lib came up. And then some wise child asked the producer if he was gay and was told, “In inverted commas, ‘no’, otherwise yes.”

Radio suffers from being non-visual, as well as deriving certain advantages from it. When someone began talking about bleached hair, we all laughed because Jimmy Saville has bleached hair. When Jimmy talked about the number of people there, he was able to imply the existence of a fair sized gathering, when in fact there were fewer than a hundred, probably as low as fifty. When he said we all looked sober and businesslike, you couldn’t see me in the front row with me blue velvet jacket and bright silver boots (among other things, I hasten to add).

But more important than the little white lies radio allows you to tell is the greater one – that this was a free programme of people being given a fair chance to have their say. Let me explain the set-up. Jimmy was on a little stage with the group. On the floor of the room they were using as a studio, one at each side, were rather sober and not-unheavy gentlemen, each carrying a microphone attached to many yards of wire. You got your chance to speak when Jimmy allowed it – and since he obviously thought we were going to be troublesom, and the running order to which he frequently referred did not include any discussion of radical gayness, it took him a long while to send it our way. Often I found that the discussion had taken a sidetrack and by the time he waved a mike to me, my point was irrelevant. Other times the subject was changed altogether. How far this was influenced by the voice of the producers in Jimmy’s earpiece, I cannot say. Yet when the programme began to change character, and started to pursue any topic in depth, it seemed to be the exact moment for another piece of music. In short, it was in no sense of the word a discussion programme.

Actually talking into the mike was intimidating, too. Since I was sitting right in Front of Jimmy, the man holding the mike stood between us (then was room to one side). Consequently I had to either talk to the mike itself, or try to see how Jimmy was reacting via this large gentleman’s armpit – but it didn’t seem to matter most of the time, as Jimmy was usually looking at the other roving mike, and positioning it so he could cut in swiftly when I or anyone else paused for breath. The major occasion when we actually talked to one another was in arguing about drag, transvestites, and so-called effeminate behaviour, which he and everyone else had bundled up into one package labelled bad. It is not easy, in a few sentences, and in these surroundings, to separate the three and defend them, also separately. Especially as Jimmy was more interested in making the point written down on his order sheet (which presumably said ‘homosexuals are not like that’, where it ought to have said ‘not all… etc.’). And so he tried to steer me up the garden path and strand me, because I wasn’t in drag. I could have been a mite less honest than I was, and said that there was no point when the audience were listeners, not watchers – but in an already rather dishonest programme I did not wish to compound the felony.

As far as I could tell, both from the way the talk was steered and the reception of some of the statements, the plan of the programme was to present gays as nice, safe, normal, unremarkable people just like everyone else, valiantly fitting in where they are plainly meant not to go (since the law still treats us as perverts and a danger, and so do most people). It said nothing about gay people who believe, as I do, that we are different and in some respects better, and that we are capable of evolving a lifestyle of our own which would be perfectly compatible with every other possible sexual and ethnic group (something which predominantly heterosexual societies have never managed to do). Of course, taken as a whole we are no better or worse than anyone else, but we will not become anything like compete as individuals whilst we play pretend marriage and domesticity, which are plainly not, and never will be, the ways in which two or more men can build a life together. Only legal and financial lies, coupled with societal pressure of belief, make sure that heterosexual marriages continue at all. And this is what is meant, at basis, by being acceptable – it means behaving like a certain group of people who are plainly different in a fundamental respect from ourselves, and in a way which they themselves find near impossible.

But what the programme did do was to reach a number of people who have never met another gay person in their lives before, who have lived in loneliness and fear, and now find that they are not alone. In the couple of weeks following the programme the Albany Test alone had over a hundred letters of this kind. And it must have given courage to many others. It will have helped to case the tensions in a home such as mine, in which I live with my parents and only recently faced them with the fact that I am gay. It will have helped the painful process of dispelling all the history of prejudice and censure that we have faced and still do. Above all, it slated loud and clear the one fact that must be said again and again – that gayness is about love, that it is no different in any way from heterosexuality, that both are as good, as fulfilling, and as human as each other. The only perversion is their persecution of our freedom as though we were less than human.

As with so many other things, the control of the producer is the crucial factor, deciding as it does the image of a particular person or group of people which is communicated to the audience. When the audience is as large as 5 or 6 million, as it is with Speakeasy, then the producer of that programme has an enormous responsibility to the group he is portraying – in this case, gay people. Yet there was little preparation for the programme and it only lasted one hour, and so time was precious, an attempt was made to exclude certain sections of the gay community, who do have something to say, whether or not you agree with it. Those organisations which were represented did not cover anything like a wide range, being for the most part composed of people who seemed not a million miles from the self-pitying legions of the unfortunate living out their twisted lives – ‘but it wasn’t our fault’. So much more consultation should have taken place, so much more time spent before and during the programme. The only way we can be at all sure that a fair image of us goes out to those who don’t know is to do the job ourselves. It will be, I am sure, a very interesting exercise for both the producer and the participants.


 

c/o The Albany Trust
32 Shaftsbury Avenue
London W.C.1.
22nd May 1972

“Gay News”
19 London Street
London W.2

Dear Peter and David,

Anthony Grey tells me that I am in the dog house as far as Gay News is concerned. I also seem to be pig-in-the-middle over the BBC Speakeasy programme. I am sorry that it has been construed that I was indulging in jiggery pokery. It’ll teach me in future not to be lumbered with other people’s chores. The BBC rang and asked me to find thirty gay people as representatives of as many organisations and groups as I know, excepting Gay Lib. They also talked about something called “Challenge”, which I assumed was a Gay Liberation Front venture. There seems to be have been some misunderstanding and a right cock-up in the arrangements for the programme. I am sorry if I have hurt anybody’s feelings or made them feel that there was dirty work afoot I am glad everybody represented in the programme seemed to take a full park in the discussion and the Gay Liberation Front more than held its own.

May I wish Gay News every success. If at any time you feel I could contribute anything useful, let me know.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Butler

Manchester Club hits out at Women. Five arrested

01-197205XX 3Early in March Samantha’s, a gay club in Manchester, changed its policy of freely admitting women members and allowing them to sign in as guests. One night two women members of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, one a Samantha’s member and the other her guest, were refused admittance. They were told that the club no longer had women members. Later this statement was changed to stating that although the club had women members, no more women would be allowed to join, and existing women members were no longer allowed to sign in guests. A dialogue with the owner of the coub-failed to produce any change in this policy and as it was in direct pooosition to CHE’s objective of equality between women and men, and likely to produce an all-male ghetto club, it was decided that leaflets would be produced to be given to people going into the club, containing details of what had occured and stating the objections. It asked those people who were against the club’s policy to say so to its management.

The first night the leaflets were given out the management told us to go home, it was too cold for fooling about. The second night they were less pleased to see us and an irate/scared member called the police, who told us to go, otherwise we’d all be arrested. Unsure of whether we were committing a legal offence, we decided to move.

On the day after, five of us, (Bobbie Oliver, Alan Blake, Steve Lath, Glenys Parry and Liz Stanley) gave out leaflets to the six people who went into the club. We had consulted two lawyers from the National Council for Civil Liberties who had told us that the only offence we could be arrested for was obstruction, and that if we all walked briskly about and didn’t attempt to prevent anyone from going into the club then we would not be committing any offence.

We behaved exactly as the lawyers suggested, gave out only six leaflets, saw only one car pass by: and yet were arrested. For obstruction.

We had a witness who stood nearby on the same piece of pavement for over twenty minutes, but the police took no notice of him whatsoever. The hearing was held on the 28th March, when we were committed for trial on 21st June. The prosecution said that we were members of Gay Lib and that we were trying to pressure the club into letting people of the same sex dance together. In other words, that the club was a straight one, and that we were trying to turn it gay. CHE has backed our action, and has agreed to finance an appeal if the court finds us guilty, or pay any fine they may impose.

Gay News in issue Number 2 will be reporting the outcome of this particular incident.

It seems to us that it is completely unjustified to discriminate against women in this way, and we wish the women (and men) involved every success in their fight against harassment and discrimination.

It would also seem that the many stories we hear of protection money being paid to certain members of the police force in Manchester by club owners are at times not completely without some element of truth in them. In time we will attempt to find out the truth behind the rumours.