Youths went Queer Bashing

01-197205XX 3It’s still happening. Punch ball ‘poofs’ – deflating prancing ‘queens’ with sheath knives. It’s only ‘one of them’ so what’s so had about “conspiring together to cause grievous bodily harm to persons unknown”. And especially to 30 year old Patrick Dobson who was beaten about the head with a “lump of wood” whilst being stabbed.

Seven 14 to 16 year old youths, products of a world when childish illusions disappear quickly, were charged at Brighton juvenile court with murderously assaulting this latest victim.

Patrick was yet another casualty of the constant practice of ‘queer bashing’. This sort of action by silly little boys and their contemporaries is very hard to take and more so because there is very little that gays, let alone the judicial authorities, can do about it. Or so it seems.

Obviously, probation and borstals are not the answer. For the magistrates they are the punishments to be dealt out to the few who get caught. What then is the answer to this particularly distressing subject? And remember, all male homosexuals are vulnerable to being confronted by a troop of ‘queer bashers’.

There is no immediate solution. But wouldn’t a possible beginning to finding one be a more thorough investigation into the reasons why such events take place? Isn’t part of the answer in the whole way homosexuality, amongst other things, is ‘treated’ by the police, the courts, the medical profession, the education system, to name just a few of the institutions that make up our society. Doctors receive usually half an hour’s instruction on how to ‘deal’ with ‘sexual deviants’; the police’s attitude towards gays is as misinformed as most heterosexuals; ‘queers’ to the courts are just another nuisance like traffic offenders; and where, except in the most progressive schools, is

subject of homosexuality discussed or examined?

Patrick, hopefully, will receiver from his injuries and return to living with no serious mark on his personality. But we’ll probably never know. One can be certain though that this assault will not be the last. We will read about another such incident fairly soon in another paper, and maybe the victim won’t be so lucky, like Michael de Gruchy. Or maybe fate will be even more vicious as in the case of the gay on Wimbledon Common who fought back against the torments and threats of a police officer and another man, who along with their wives, had a distorted idea of after-eleven-o’clock-closing-time-fun. But that time the tables were turned and the gay stupidly lost control, which ended with the manslaughter of the off-duty-out-of-uniform police officer.

We gays must fight back against the violent pressures put upon us by society, of course without the weapons sometimes used against us, but with justified anger at society’s failure, up to now, to deal with and protect us from such atrocities as ‘queer bashing’.

Gay Life in Scotland, or Och, Yerra Naffie Big Jessie, Jimmah!

01-197205XX 4Being freely translated: “Oh! You’re
a screaming queen, my dear.”

There are fundamental differences between Scotland and the rest of the U.K. which reflect back on the individual life-styles of men and women living in Scotland. Some of these differences can be understood using the simple analysis that life outside London is barbarious for all “sub-cultures” and that it is self~evident that life in the “provinces” must be an eternally lonely and frustrating existence.

It’s not really as simple as that, however, and the above analysis makes the fundamental error of assuming that life for homosexuals in and around London must be always very pleasant with everyone else having to cope with a less pleasant existence. In fact activists living in a smaller community where any action at the local level is rewarded by quick attention and positive response. Whether that response is creative or destructive will depend a lot on the calibre of the local gay activists. It is easier, too, for the local gay community to get a corporate feeling of togetherness – you can’t just drop out of sight very easily, and the pleasant spin-off from this is that people care a bit more about your personal happiness.

But, again, I just want to underline that the picture is complex, and that there are a thousand graduations between city sizes and community spirit. Before I bow to discipline and keep to the subject in hand, I’d like to suggest that gay commentators in other regions could help provide an unrivalled service by writing about their own part of the U.K. especially if they’ve travelled around and put thing into perspective: we readers of “Gay News” may wonder just what it is that makes life so different for a Geordie a Mancunian, a gay Derry Boy (surely Northern Ireland must be the most socially and legally deprived area of Britain). There must be rich seams of unrecognised local slang, unrecorded local life-styles – what a PhD awaits the lucky researcher! Or the updater of Montgomery Hyde’s now sadly uncontemporary survey of homosexuality in Britain!

OUTRAGES ON DECENCY: Any male person who, in public or in private, commits, or is a party to the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any all of gross indecency with another male person, shall be liable to imprisonment for two years. (S.11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act l885). Got it? Let me spell it out: two guys in private, perhaps also lovers, can’t fuck, suck, or toss (or anything else remotely sexual) without committing a criminal offence. Age is no protection. And that is the law under statute in Scotland. At common law we have the crime of SODOMY: Sodomy is the crime of unnatural connection between human males. Both parties, if consenting, are guilty. As with rape, proof of penetration is an indispensable requirement. It’s a messy, antediluvian situation, and neatly reflects the unenlightened. near perverted attitudes towards sex which has clouded the minds of our moral law writers. The state of the law is one major barrier towards a well-balanced, well-informed society.

Yet the state of the law in Scotland hasn’t prevented the flourishing of an outward-going gay community (at least in Edinburgh), nor has the law prevented the growth of a service group (the Scottish Minorities Group) dedicated to the promotion of the interests of the homosexual community. The police have very few statutory powers of arrest in Scotland (unlike England) and the power to arrest is based on the common law. The most prominent offences linked with homosexual behaviour aret
dedicated to the promotion of the interests of the homosexual community. The police have very few statutory powers of arrest in Scotland (unlike England) and the power to arrest is based on the common law. The most prominent offences linked with homosexual behaviour are the common law offences of “shameless indecency” and “breach of the peace”, the latter of which is used quite widely in Scotland. The police are not involved in the prosecution. Public prosecution is conducted by the Burgh Prosecutor (police courts) or the Procurator Fiscal or Advocate Deputy (Sheriff or High Courts). The policy of successive Lord Advocates has been not to prosecute for “in private” activity, and so homosexuals in Scotland enjoy, for all practical legal purposes, the same freedoms as heterosexuals. Scots law of evidence affords an extra protection to the citizen. However, the laws remain unreformed – an insult to every right-thinking person. A friend of mine, extolling the “golden age” of the l8th Century and deploring the tawdryness of contemporary 20th century life, conveniently forgot the fact that today we are confined by legal and moral restraints brought about in response to specific events in the 19th Century. We too easily forget that the “age of Consent” up to 1875 was 12. In that year it was raised to 13, and then to 16 in 1885. The idea that two men in their teens taking part in homosexual actions cannot be “consenting” is laughable, yet the Sexual Offences Act 1967 says just that. Thank goodness this ugly piece of modern legislation does NOT apply to Scotland. It perpetuates the idea of “gross indecency” between men, a statutory offence invented in 1885, and in an emotional and malicious way confines young people to criminal proceedings, when they may properly need care, advice or empathy. What we need in Britain are sound rational laws. So long as we tinker and “reform” present laws we gay people will perpetuate socially and legally the concept of second-class citizenship.

Scotland’s population is about 5¼ million, just half the number of people who live within an hours train journey from London. The area is vast, but because of the wild and exciting land-forms, the people are unevenly distributed and confined in the main to the Forth-Clyde valleys and on or near the East Coast. There’s a very distinctive flavour to each city. Glasgow and Edinburgh, a gentle hourly drive apart, have unmistakeable identities. Glasgow is a city of superlatives: best Victorian city in Europe, highest high rise, greatest programme of urban motorways, brilliant parklands… yet… and yet bad for gays. It’s a sort of combination of heavy industrial working-class past combined with a near dearth of intimate and varied meeting-places. The Close Theatre is a stunning exclamation mark in the heart of old Gorbals. Edinburgh: “east-windy and west-endy” about sums it up but if you’ve been to the August International Festival (or any other time) you will know that this lovely city is also a haven for Scotland’s gay community. SMG are operating a successful Saturday night coffee-food-and-dance club, and the Edinburgh Branch of the Group is now seriously engaged in the buying of central premises, inside which we can create our permanent home. Edinburgh’s size (less than ½ million) seems just right: big enough for variety, small enough for identity. Gay people relocating should give serious thought to settling in Edinburgh.

The best way to approach Dundee is at night driving northwards over the Tay Road Bridge (or take the evening train from Edinburgh!). Unfortunately, visual impact does not match up to social enjoyment, for this is a very stolid town which partly derives from a large female work force to support the Jute industry. It is a “tight” city, not at all liberated. I have never been to Aberdeen, but my friends sing the beauties of its crisp-clean granite, and worry their hearts about the social disruption (and destruction) attendant upon the North Sea oil bonanza. Inverness I know is a cheerful and smaller version of Edinburgh in many ways. Some very sensitive restoration work coupled with the delightful modern development just slightly spoiled by some loutish work in the late fifties and early 1960’s. Could be very pleasant for gays once SMG Inverness begins to grow.

I’ll wind off now! Hopefully this highly personal and patchy picture will give some idea of what Scotland is like as a place to stay.

  • References: (yes, there were some)
  • THE FRIEND April 28th 1972 (Marjorie Jones’ article)
  • SCOTTISH INTERNATIONAL March 1972 (author’s article)
  • CIVIL LIBERTY The NCCL Guide (Penguin Books, London, 1972)

 

SCOTTISH MINORITIES GROUP.

MEETINGS:

  • EDINBURGH, from 7.45pm to 9.00pm in the basement of 23 George Square. Check with Mike Coulson at 031-225 4395. Women’s Group at 7.30pm. Saturdays from 9.30pm to 12.30pm coffee/food/dance at the same address.
  • GLASGOW, meetings every Tuesday at 8.00pm at 8 Dunearn Street, Glasgow C4. Women’s Group at 184 Swinton Road, at 8.00pm. Third Friday of every month at 214 Clyde Street (library of community house) invited speakers, from 8pm.
  • DUNDEE, every Friday at Dundee University Chaplaincy, Social. Details from 041-771 7600
  • ABERDEEN, Weekly social meetings, Details from 041-772 7600

Come Dancing Together

01-197205XX 3A town hall somewhere in West London. GLF, and the gay world outside come together with two groups, disco, light-show and a bar, charging higher prices for drinks than most gay pubs. There are about 400 people and most of them seem to be enjoying themselves, dancing drinking, chatting; but there are lonely isolated people, perhaps the ones who are not pretty or trendy, who sit in corners on their own. GLF is supposed to be trying to break down this awful sexist custom where we only talk to people, dance with them, if we fancy them and want to go to bed with them. Then surely the whole point of dances run by GLF should be to start relating to the many non-GLF people who attend them, the non-politically motivated who are content to remain in their gay pub/club ghettoes, the meat markets. How can we do this? We should have group dancing; GLF literature should be available where you buy your ticket. It isn’t!

Ironically, the attendance by GLF members at these dances is falling off. They are held more and more frequently and always have the same formula – disco, lightshow and two heavy rock groups. Not everyone digs heavy rock music or dancing. Why not one group and a drag artist, or one group and a film?

At the last dance held at Kensington Town Hall about ten people started jeering and attempting to make one of the groups leave the stage as its lead singer was girating in a very sexual way. They shouted, “Sexist, Sexist, get off, get off,” and finally violently mounted the stage and tried to push the group off, ignoring the majority who either saw nothing wrong and wished the group to continue or else wanted to talk about the situation, not scream and kick; this frightened the non-GLF people who should feel relaxed while beginning to experience the true GLF ideology and its love which still exists, though distantly.

No Bread but Good Vibes for Gay News

01-197205XX 4The National Federation of Homophile Organisations was born on 30th October 1971. The insemination took place 15 months previously at York University during July 1970. This slow gestation period reflects the changes in attitude and heart of its founder members (SMG, CHE, St. Catherines, womens’ groups) as much as the turtle’s pace which NFHO has tended to move since October, 1971. The Meeting in Catford on Saturday 1O June, 1972 – thanks Tony Cross of INTEGROUP – was to formulate planning and financial policies for the year ahead. 2O people representing most of the structured homosexual organisations in the U.K. attended.

Sadly we began too formally. This imposed a deadness on the proceedings which proved hard to lift, though one or two tried. Quite a few of us were strangers and didn’t really know who was representing what. The rest, (the old guard), were glad of the rare chance to socialise and exchange gossip. We needed no introductions having been active in structured homosexual society since its beginnings in the 1960’s. Wise old cheshire cats we are, delighted and yet bewildered at the great growth and diversification in the gay world since GLF shattered the silence late in 1970.

There was agreement on limited non-controversial topics. Michael Butler’s suggestion of a residential weekend conference 2-3 September at St. Catherine’s on the subject of “Befriending”, was enthusiastically received. We also decided, though less cheerfully, to seek NFHO offices (rented) in principle, which would also house a CHE office, Albany Trust, Albany Society Limited, and A’3. Group meetings would also take place there. “GAY NEWS” was also discussed at some length. The idea of the newspaper as an “official organ” of the National Federation was rejected, but a strong plea was made that individuals should write in to the paper because the quality of the paper depends on the strength of the articles it receives.

NFHO’s best function will be as an organisation for information collation and exchange. It will be best equipped to talk directly with the large Foundations and organisations such as the National Council of Social Service, Marriage Guidance Council, Home Office, D.E.S. However, overshadowing everything is the nagging realisation that NFHO is an extra financial committment for its member organisations.

Anthony Grey urged everyone to think big in cash terms, otherwise the gay movement would never finance itself.

IT lose House of Lords appeal

01-197205XX 4STOP PRESS.. ..

No-one, no matter how many gowns and wigs they wear, degrees and titles they hold, has any moral right to dictate to anyone how they shall find their lovers. For the majority, it is quite rightly accepted that the law cannot tell you to remain in isolation. But the law has now finally decided that it can and it will impose both these restrictions on the gay people in this country – the law in the shape of the House of Lords has decided that International Times was breaking the law in publishing small ads for gays. In other words, it might be legal for two consenting adults to go to bed together, but it’s illegal to do anything in order to “promote” the occurence of this.

The law does not realise that it is not a case of “promoting” bizarre sexual practices – it is in fact a case of helping people who are kept in isolation by their social and legal situation to find one another and perhaps bring love into their lives. Homosexuality is, after all, about love, as is any other form of sexuality. Heterosexuals are allowed to contact one another in any way they wish – small ads, computers, specially designed magazines – in order to break any isolation they might find themselves in, but we are expected to be martys to an antiquated mode of thought and legal system which has so far given us one inadequate crumb of comfort, with which we are supposed to creep back into our caves and ghettoes and be grateful. Well were not, and we wont be until the law reflects the facts – that we are people the same as anyone else, that we are not carriers of some contagious “perversion”, that we love and live much like anyone else and have a perfect right to do so.

And as for the false distinction everyone is intent on drawing between love and sexual activity – what is wrong with sex for the sake of it? It is a normal healthy appetite like any other which needs feeding like any other. Granted it’s nicer (we think) with someone you love, but it’s also fun with anyone who attracts you. Surely no-one still hangs on to the recrimination and guilt which has been woven about sex and has led so many people into either hypocrisy or frustration throughout their whole lives?

But there it is – the situation is clearly worsening for us; this present case is only another stage in the repression we suffer. Entrapment is increasing at a frightening rate – after arresting 120 guys in two cottages in the short space of two months in Harrow, protests where made and the local council warned the police off. But did this deter them? They are now doing much the same things on the same sort of scale in nearby Watford. Such instances are not special or isolated, but typical.

Our small ads column is still there, and will continue to be. With a little care on your part and ours we can steer a course round the law, or perhaps through it. Love may laugh at locksmiths – it also laughs at laws.

Gay News Emergency Editorial.

Your Letters

01-197205XX 5Dear Gay News,

Absolutely delighted to hear about Gay News! Please find enclosed subscription for 10 issues and accept all my good wishes for the success of the paper.

I haven’t much news to give you at the moment, none worth printing anyway as I am at present trying to get the group organised. Things are a bit quiet in this “respectable” seaside town and any leafletting, campaigning, etc., has to be done by myself at the moment, if you’ll forgive the cliche it’s like trying to swim through porridge!! To give you an example of the social atmosphere you might be interested to know that when the local Odeon showed “Sunday Bloody Sunday” there were loud gasps when Murray Head went to bed with Peter Finch, about half a dozen people walked out! Incredible, isn’t it’?

I intend to make enquiries at the library this weekend as to their stocks of books regarding homosexuality and whether I can put some leaflets and a CHE poster on their noticeboard keep your fingers crossed!

Anyway, if I do have any interesting news you can be sure I will send it on for your consideration, in the meanwhile good luck to Gay News.

Love, Brian Hart.
Folkstone

 

Dear Gay News,

Sorry! I do not really feel like helping with Gay News. I do agree that “it is high time that we had reliable and entertaining news and information for the four million or so homosexuals in this country”. But I do think that it is high time that such information, news, etc., was part of the ordinary press.

Yours sincerely, Tim Beaumont
(Lord Beaumont of Whitley)

 

Dear Gay News,

Just to wish you luck with Gay News and share the tension for new ventures. So I enclose a Sappho magazine and wondered if we could have an exchange deal. What I mean is instead of subscribing to each other just send our copies to each other.

Please let me know if you think this is an idea worth following.

Yours sincerely, Mrs. Jacqueline Forster
Editor

 

Dear Friends,

………………….We wish you every success with the Herculean task you have set yourselves.

Willy Snippe
Foreign Committee of C.O.C.

 

Dear Mr. Seligman,

Thank you for your letter. But I cannot honestly say that I like the idea of Gay News. I am against making homosexuals into a group on their own. The whole point is that they are just human beings like anyone else, and to as it went publicise them can do them no good and can in certain circumstances do them harm.

You must realise, as I am sure you do, that there is still a strong prejudice – and indeed always will be – against the homosexual, and to try and make something special out of them can only re-arouse the slowly dying hatreds which persist.

Do not please regard this as in any way a hostile letter. If I were hostile towards homosexuals I would not have introduced my bill. It is just that I am not in agreement with you over the tactics required to improve their sociological and spiritual position.

Sincerely,
Arran

We may not have much in Hemel Hempstead folks, but we’ve got a real live earl!

Earl of Arran of the Evening News

Trouble Shared

01-197205XX 5We’ll do what we can to help and advise if you share this trouble of yours with us in this regular column.

ALONE IN GLASGOW

It’s only recently that I’ve realised I’m as attracted to certain women as I am to men. This came as a big surprise to me and I’m sure it would be more of a horrible shock to my friends; which is exactly the trouble. I know no-one who feels the same as me and I have very little access to meeting them. In fact, I sometimes feel I’m the only lesbian in Glasgow! Glasgow seems to be a more repressed area than most. It’s a huge city but one which prefers to ignore part of its population and keep them in isolation and loneliness. I mean, where can you meet people? I see many women in the street to whom I’m attracted, and I’m sure they feel the same, but there’s this horrible stigma about being homosexual or bisexual or anything which deviates from the norm. It must be really bad as it took me 19 years to even admit it to myself. I believe there’s a great number of people, both male and female who consider themselves totally heterosexual but in fact have a nagging doubt at the back of their minds about this. Men have been conditioned into worshipping females with big boobs and bums and women have just been conditioned into worshipping men in all pimply, hairy and un-deodorised forms! I just can’t understand why people should be outlawed because they are attracted to a member of the same sex. I think it might have something to do with the way men are expected to be extremely manly and women to be feminine. The fact that we are all just people has been forgotten. What I’m trying to say is, I think of myself as a person first and then a woman second and if I’m attracted to a girl it’s because of her personality and then her sex.

I think homosexuals will be more and more isolated as time goes on. You only have to look at the way “Straight” People act physically towards each other – there is no form of physical communication at all – only between members of the opposite sex. This has come about quite recently because 20-30 years ago it was usual and normal to see women go walking down the street arm in arm without half the street turning round for a second look. People are being pressurised more and none into being heterosexual.

In mediaeval times it was usual and highly commendable for young boys to have knights as lovers. In fact it was considered a disgrace if they didn’t!

How times have changed!

I think the only way to bridge this terrible gap of lonely people is for a magazine like Gay News, produced sincerely for homosexual people, to organise a system like box numbers (at the very least) to help people communicate more easily.

I personally hope this will take place in the very near future.

It is a ‘terrible gap’ – and we exist to help bridge it. Although we were, and still are, concerned about the whole business of running box number ads, not least because they might technically be illegal, Gay News does have a small ads column (q.v.) and box numbers. For the sake of the future, though, gay people cannot go on hiding away from the stigma put upon us; we must become known, as people who happen to be gay. No fear ever goes away until it is faced, and nothing is won from this society without some measure of defiance. But the power of the oppression is strong, stronger in our minds, I believe, than in fact, but still with great power. And so in deference to her wishes we have not printed the name of our lonely sister. We’ll pass on any letters we get to her and put her in touch with gay organisations in Scotland.

Gay Pride Week

01-197205XX 5On a late June night in 1969, police attempted a routine search at the Stonewall, a gay bar in Christopher Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. This time, however, they met with resistence. The patrons of the bar pushed them out into the street. Greenwich Village is the largest gay ghetto in the world, and the police soon found themselves confronted by hundreds of angry homosexuals who streamed out of the surrounding apartments. What developed was a minor rebellion, complete with bricks and bottles: a spontaneous explosion of years of pent-up anger and frustration.

This was the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement in America, A year later it was to appear and grow in London. Every year in New York a carnival is held to celebrate the event and to demonstrate the movements feeling of Gay Pride. Last years celebrations were held throughout North America, and this year will also be celebrated in London and the major cities of Europe.

The London Gay Liberation Front is planning a week-long series of events as part of this years celebration of Gay Pride. Theme of the activities will be both an assertion of Gay Pride and and two concrete demands: repealing of all anti-gay laws and full civil rights for gay people.

The weeks events are:

  • FRIDAY JUNE 23rd: West London Gay Dance – Fulham Town Hall, 8pm – 12pm.
  • SATURDAY JUNE 24th: Various events, including mass leafleting of the gay areas.
  • SUNDAY JUNE 25th: Gay Days at both Battersea Park and Waterlow Park, Highgate. Meet at both parks at 12 noon.
  • MONDAY JUNE 26th: Disco at the Kings Arms, Bishopsgate, Liverpool Street. 8pm.
  • TUESDAY JUNE 27th: Street events around London: ring GLF number below for further information. Amongst other activities the will be GLF vigil outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, against the continuing war in Vietnam. 12am – 1pm.
  • WEDNESDAY JUNE 28th: West London Gay Disco at: White Lion Pub, Putney. 8pm.
  • THURSDAY JUNE 29th: The same events etc. (excepting US Embassy vigil) as Tuesday. Extra events are expected to come from local GLF groups.
  • FRIDAY JUNE 30th: GAY PRIDE DANCE: Fulham Town Hall, 8pm – 12pm. Featuring rock groups, light-shows, disco, bar, and much togetherness.
  • SATURDAY JULY 1st: GAY PRIDE CARNIVAL, meet at Trafalgar Square 2pm. March from there at 3pm. to Hyde Park through the streets of London. From 4pm. at Hyde Park there will be music, food, fun and surprises. On Saturday evening there will be a Disco at the Northern Polytechnic, Holloway Road. 8pm – 12pm. Music, lights, beer and even more surprises.
  • SUNDAY JULY 2nd: Gay Day at Primrose Hill from 2pm.

There will be more events and celebrations as they come together, for further information about Gay Pride Week contact:

Gay Liberation Front, 5 Caledonian Road, London N.1.
Telephone 01-837-7174.

Gay News is in no way involved in the organisation of Gay Pride Week, but we fully support the idea and motives behind this week of proposed gay celebrations. We wish than concerned much success in this venture and hope you, like us of the Gay News Collective, will endeavour to attend and participate in as many of these scheduled events as possible. Gay News, of course, will bc reporting and examining in depth the events of this week.

The Biograph Review

01-197205XX 6In these days of rush and constant turmoil there is a definite need for one to be able to sit back and relax. And where better than at the pictures. I find three hours in front of the silver screen with ones favourite stars feeding those fantasies all of us have. Nowadays though there are so many films around that it is quite easy to miss something one really wanted to see, and an excellant little cinema for catching up on things one has missed, and re-seeing old favourites is at the Biograph in Wilton Road in Victoria.

Mind you though dears, it sometimes attracts the strangest people. More often than not it attracts boozers, for what else is the answer to the fact that so many people have to continually rush off to the convenience to receive themselves of a full bladder of beer or gin. l’m partial to a drop of gin, but I like to think that I can keep it inside of me long enough to have a little bit of a rest.

Another minor discomfort at the Biograph is that many people find after paying their admission that the film wasn’t really their cup of gin, sorry, tea after all; that makes many people restless and seemingly so bored that they get what can only be described as a kind of ants in your pants of the cinema, as people are continually changing their seats. Mind you they could just be seeing old friends, for many people arrive on their own but quite often leave with an aquaintence or relative or something like that. A friend did tell me though that some people find that the occassional faulty seat and lack of arm-rests make it very uncomfortable for some people.

Anyway back to the films. In what will be, I hope, a regular feature in this lovely paper, I will let you know what goodies are showing at that little haven just by Victoria Station.

Unfortunately the paper went to press too late for me to tell you of an especially intriguing feature starring that super John Wayne. Oh! what a masculine name. The epic in question is The Commancheros. John Wayne is such a gorgeous man and actor. Sad too is that you probably also missed a chance of seeing The Damned. This is a very strange film, set in pre-war (2nd) decadent Germany. And dears, the most peculiar things happen in it. Men dressed up as women is just one of the fascinating delights that come dancing from the celluloid. at least the beer drinkers and relative finders were some how oddly quiet and stilled by this tomfoolery on the screen.

Commencing on Thursday 22nd June there is that darling Simone Signoret thrilling us all in The Confession. A drama, if ever there was one. Support feature is the prophetic You Can’t Win Them All with dolly Tony Curtis.

The Sunday show on 25th June is a sailor film, Sink The Bismark, where those brave, virtuous, strong and well built boys in navy blue battle those nasty Germans and their big boat. Second feature is a newy for me, I Deal In Danger, which is an apt title for a film showing at the Biograph on a Sunday. It gets so crowded you can hardly find a seat, lots of laps but no seats.

I must say I find the air conditioning wanting at limes, so do most other patrons, most have their coats off and over their knees as soon as they get into the cinema.

Monday 26th June’s attraction is Loot. Such a queer film, involving a questionable relationship. I’ve seen it many times.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is showing on 29th June for three days. It’s as well Sherlock did keep some of the incidents that are depicted private. Very indiscreet film it is, shocking at times, but I like it.

The Inspector and Nine Hours to Rammer, sorry Rama, is the Sunday show on 2nd July; followed on Monday 3rd July by A Severed Head, kinky movie about everyone forgetting who their loved ones are, but they all seem quite happy, especially the two ladies.

A future attraction to make a note of is The Amorous Virgin. It’s a first for me, missed it when it was at that nice cinema just off Picadilly,

Before I leave you this time, I’d just like to tell you of one of the extra material comforts to be found at the Biograph. They keep the lights on quite bright so you can find anything you have dropped, and it does make it easier to find ones bits and pieces when leaving. Look after yourselve dears. Bye for now.


  • The Biograph, Wilton Road, Victoria, SWI.
  • Thursday 22 June
    The Confession AA with Yves Montand and Simone Signoret.
    You Can’t Win them All A with Charles Bronson and Tony Curtis.
  • Sunday 25 June.
    Sink the Bismark U with Kenneth More.
    I Deal in Danger U with Robert Gourlay.
  • Monday 26 June.
    Loot X with Richard Attenborough and Lee Remick.
    The Secret of Santa Vittoria AA with Anthony Quinn and Anna Magnani.
  • Thursday 29 June.
    The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. A with Robert Stevens and Colin Blakeley.
    Ordered to Love X with Maria Perschy.
  • Sunday 2 July.
    The Inspector A with Stephen Boyd.
    Nine Hours to Rama A with Robert Morley.
  • Monday 3 July.
    A Severed Head X with Lee Remick and Richard Attenborough.
    I Walk the Line AA with Gregory Peck and Tuesday Weld.
  • Thursday 6 July.
    McKenzie Break AA with Brian Keith.
    Take a Girl like You X with Oliver Reed and Hayley Mills.
  • Sunday 9 July.
    Charge of the Black Lancers U with Mel Ferrer.
    The Amorous Virgin X with Marisa Solinas.

Gay Film Busted in New York

01-197205XX 6New York City police seized Fred Halstead’s SEX GARAGE, a gay porno film, at the 55th Street Playhouse on April 14th. It is called ‘seizure’, but if you saw it happening you’d probably call it by some other name.

What happened was this; NY city police served the management of the cinema with a subpoena made out in the name of Moon Enterprises, demanding that the film be shown to court officials to determine whether it was of a distinctly abusive and debasing nature, and therefore illegal and outside the broadly legal spectrum of pornographic film shown in dozens of theatres in NY. But Moon Enterprises is the former, not the current, tenant of the Playhouse, so the subpoena was invalid.

The judges reaction to all this was to throw up his hands and say, “Work it out with the District Attorney”. And that means de facto that the film can go on playing for months (or as long as the customers keep paying) before the jury ever gets hold of the case. In the meantime, the film is doing very well indeed at the box-office and in its first week grossed over $20,000 (over £8,000)

In their more or less regular raids of pornogrinds, police have been leaving the explicitly gay theatres untouched. But a perceptive look at Halstead’s Sex Garage, a sado-masochistic (S-M) film, and its co-feature L.A. Plays Itself which was not seized, explains the change in policy. Both are films which begin with a gay S-M consciousness toward their subject matter.

It’s not that homosexuals are anything new in movies. John Schlesinger’s films have frequently portrayed male homosexuals from the point of view of straights, or, worse even, from the point of view of homosexuals who look self-denigratingly at themselves through some imaginary version of heterosexual ‘eyes’. This can lend the films the air of reporting (in the true liberal fashion) on the cutting edge of changing sexual mores, while still holding up their characters as curiosities. Billy Wilder too has featured faggots in many of his films. Again, they’re seen from a straight point of view, but Wilder has had the decency to never hold his own characters up to ridicule. As a straight dealing with gays, he has consistently been compassionate or left well enough alone.

What Halsted has done is to make a radical demand; homosexuals must recognise that their own view of themselves is the only one with which they can comfortably carry on their lives. They must get over that self-destructive impulse to accept the thought-controlling prejudices of the straight world. Further more, they must begin to show the straight world that a homosexual consciousness is in fact part of their (the straights’) everday world too. It is present everywhere. It is interpreting the billboards which sell commodities and line the streets of Los Angeles (Birmingham) and every other American (British) city. It is giving new erotic meaning to casual gatherings in the city’s parks.

Sex Garage is like a homosexual La Ronde (the Ophuls film, remade by Vadim). In the butch environ of an automobile repair shop shop a girl seated in a Mazda gives a young stud a blowjob. Intercut with her sucking are shots of details oft are shots of details of the car. Can he be fantasising these while she works on him? The stud then turns around and screws the chick. This scene is intercut with shots of a Mercedes Benz. Now clearly a Mercedes is more desirable as a commodity than a Mazda.

Sex Garage and L.A. Plays Itself represent therefore a very radical threat to the heterosexual domination of Planet Earth. The films, apart from their arousing pornographic intent, (and God knows they could stimulate a myopic mule, including the one sitting next to me in the theatre… ‘Excuse me sir, thats my leg’) constitute a liberating rallying-cry to homosexuals.

Is Halsted implying that one type of sex-act is preferable to another in some absolute scale of sexual values? But the Mercedes actually arrives at the garage, and from it steps z another boy, a masochist. Roughly the stud fucks him, during which he entertains masturbatory fantasies of a motor-cycle, which in fact arrives on the scene moments later.

What is happening here is simple. Halsted has played with certain cinematic editing conventions, making unclear the function of the motor vehicles in the film. They can be representing either fantasies or actual vehicles by which people connect together in the far-flung parts of L.A. as they run from one orgasm to the next. All of this builds to the film’s final shot of masses of cars bumper to bumper on the freeway. All are driven by actively-fantasising men and women, passing their days linking orgasm bumper to bumper with orgasm.

The seizure of Sex Garage is based on a rather primitive notion of the effect that film has on viewers: that the viewers can accurately penetrate the metaphors which enshroud the ‘real’, that they are powerless to resist the ‘message’ that is hidden there, that once having received the message their behaviour (bereft of other stimuli) is determined by it and accords with its dictates.


The above article was written by Mitch Tuchman and is taken from a recent issue of Cinema Rising. Many thanks to them both.

What follows is a section of a letter (received by a member of the Gay News collective) which reviews the films in a different and possibly more personal context. Many thanks to Manus Sasonkin for his permission to print this part of his letter.


An Afternoon at the Cinema

‘In the afternoon, I attended, for the first time – ever – a cinema which was showing a double bill of gay ‘pornography’. The films, Sex Garage and L.A. Plays Itself, were virtually interchangeable, except that Sex Garage had been photographed (appallingly) in black and white, whereas L.A. Plays Itself had been photographed (no less appallingly) in glorious colour. There was no attempt made in either film to tell a story; neither was there any attempt made to create (let alone develop) any characters. Both films displayed extremely pretty young men, copious amounts of masturbation, detailed accounts of fellatio, and the occasional anal penetration. My favourite episode (which was from Sex Garage) involved a comely young stud standing in a shower-bath, masturbating, whilst the sound track issued Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire in the piano transcription of the late Dame Myra Hess.

Elsewhere the bodies were all attractive. and the activities which the bodies performed caused me to feel wistful and just slightly covetous; but the impersonality of all the encounters – the total lack of human (as opposed to physical) contact – depressed me, and caused me to feel nobly justified in hailing declined the attentions of a Piccadilly Cruiser on my recent visit to London. Seeing the films helped to convince me that, for me at least, sex without human involvement is futile, barren, unrewarding, and – in the last analysis – more frustrating than gratifying.’

It is unlikely that either of these films will be shown in the British Isles, however, as is obvious here, different people react differently to ‘gay’ films. And it occurs to us, with further relaxation of censorship, if seems likely there will be more films with a more explicit ‘gay content’.

There have been in the last few year a number of films on general release portraying the homosexual stereo-types, and in the showing of Some Of My Best Friends Are… the first attempt to cash in on gay audiences in this country.

We of the collective have varying ideas as to the possible good that may come from these developments in the cinema, and would like to know how you feel about and react to this.