London University Gays

02-197206XX 4CHE and GLF have got together at London University to found a Homophile Society – GAYSOC. So far it has been an object-lesson in co-operation between the two organisations. If nothing else, GAYSOC will be the front behind which gay students of all different persuasions can come together officially, both to speak as a gay voice in student and University affairs where this is needed, and to provide social facilities for themselves similar to those abundantly available for straights. It will also be a means of action.

At our first meeting we necessarily concerned ourselves with organisation and business, but things really livened up at our second meeting. For this we had as guest speaker the noted aversion-therapist Dr. Bancroft of Oxford University. He was not surprisingly, strongly attacked, and though very little constructive dialogue emerged, at least the important issues were aired, and we had a chance to hear the therapist’s justification of his job.

Direct action was taken within three weeks of our starting when almost twenty GAYSOC members turned up at a straight University disco. We were seemingly regarded with amusement or indifference until about an hour from the end when two members were told to leave – “so that the boys and girls can have the last half hour to themselves”; The source of the trouble, apparently, was a number of women (who had got in free) who seemed to regard themselves as having been insulted. No men had complained. We solved this problem by gathering together quickly in a group and making it clear that we were not going to be forced to leave. After the failure of their strong-arm tactics, further intimidation by officials of the disco took the form of herding us into one corner of the dance floor and telling us not to break the law. We ignored this, and they retaliated by playing no slow records from then on. We all left when we felt like it. Next day a notice was placed prominently in the building explaining our case. We regard this whole affair as a significant success; hopefully we may have opened the eyes of a few straights, and it certainly helped to build up a feeling of solidarity between our members. Similar activities are planned for next term.

Our contact address is: GAYSOC. University of London Union, Malet Street, London, W.C.1.

Robert Maynard

We Know You’re In There

02-197206XX 4The march was scheduled to start at nine, but by nine thirty only thirty or so people were there. Since it seemed unlikely that anyone else would turn up, the march moved off. As they turned the corner into the main road, a couple of slightly hostile policemen cautioned everyone to stay off the pavement, but generally seemed to be rather amused.

The same could not be said of the employees and customers of the two main Earls Court pubs, the Boltons and the Colherne. The GLF leafletters and balloon carriers were quickly ejected from the Boltons and pushed around outside when they persisting in chanting slogans at the people within – “Come out of your shells! We know you’re in there!” and “What is Gay – Good! What is the Boltons – Crap!” did not appear to amuse anyone. All that happened was a minor exodus to the Colherne over the road. There the reception was even more hostile, and the exodus of customers back to the Boltons even larger, but the majority of people seemed singularly unmoved. In fact, there was a total lack of comprehension of one another, which made the customers ignore the marchers and drained any attempt at further action. People just stood around, and the guy from the Colherne gave up yelling “Fuck off” when it had no effect. It seemed obvious to me that no-one in the pubs saw any need for a march, and since they had come out for a drink and to cruise that was what they were going to do. People aren’t too keen to come out and be seen, and shouting at the doors of the pub they are in seemed a singularly ineffective way to persuade them that they would be better off if they did. I’m not at all sure what the march was intended to achieve anyway, but whatever it was, it didn’t. Granted, the passive acceptance of so many people of the whole “gay scene” is a depressing phenomenon, and one does wish gay people would create places for themselves as an alternative, but I didn’t hear a word about that all evening. It was all, alas, entirely predictable, right down to the policeman who moved everyone away at closing time with the immortal words “If I see any of you lot around here again, I’ll arrest you”.

Fulham, Stucco and Drag

02-197206XX 4Gay Pride week got off to a friendly but not very inspiring start with a dance at the Fulham Town Hall – all thirties glass and stucco. The hall was responsible for the poor sound – it was either too loud or inaudible – and so the first group deafened me whilst Rupert Herries gentle songs were lost. In the former case, it would have helped if the hall had been full, but, alas, the attendance was only fair.

The most noticeable feature of the evening was the quality and quantity of guys in drag, from those who took themselves very seriously and were got up in variations on a theme by Mae West/Yvonne de Carlo or even a sort of Drag Valentino in a velvet mirrorwork gown, on through the dollybird to a sort of Gert-and-Daisy character in a print shift, woolly socks and hush puppies (not to mention the hairy, stockingless legs and the three-day growth). Major entertainment of the evening for me was watching one guy lifting his skirt and hauling down his tights in order to join we poor trouserbound males at the urinal. But I do wish that the people in make-up had made up their minds too – most attempts at combining thirties vamp and Cherokee warpaint are doomed to failure, I’m afraid.

It was O.K. as dances go, certainly more fun than the last, and I’m quite sure a few of the town hall staff were given considerable food for thought. It’s a pity more people from outside GLF weren’t there – still, never mind, eh?

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.

Samaritan Enquiry Part 1

02-197206XX 4
Part 2 of this series is in issue #3

Many people who are lonely, frightened and isolated go to the Samaritans for guidance and comfort – and although they advertise themselves as a last ditch help service for suicides, they are accustomed to handling personal and social problems at all levels of intensity. Their policy of deliberately keeping their distance and not giving active advice makes them an attractive prospect for people like gays, who don’t want or need someone to moralise at them.

“If you go to the London branch and say yours a lesbian, you’ll see Chad Varah, and when you admit what your problem is, he’ll pat you on the knee and say ‘congratulations!’

“… We have special people to deal with the neuroses, depressives, the marital problems. So that just leaves me the female homosexuals and male deviants, a very nice thing lo be left with. They are the most vulnerable and gentle people you could meet.” (Chad Varah, the founder of Samaritans)

It’s true – I did get referred to Chad Varah very quickly, after twenty minutes talking to a woman Volunteer at St. Stephen’s, Walbrook, where Sams started 18 years ago. The Volunteer just said reassuring things and warned me off organisations like GLF on the grounds that “they do a lot of showing off” and “They are very busy being gay and not taking it very seriously.” She hadn’t heard of CHL, or showed no reaction, anyway.

Chad Varah gives me a direct and serious smile, and takes me up to his office. I began where I’d left off with the volunteer, talking quite truthfully about an affair which was breaking up, and he immediately began to give what I felt were traditional replies – the quote above was repealed almost word for word, plus little stories about “the two hundred very genuine lesbian friends I have”, and about a couple who had sent him a card while “on their honeymoon”. I felt even none isolated by this ‘happy-ever-after’ angle, as I’d already been talking about loneliness.

He uses physical contact a lot, holding my hand in both of his, patting my knee and putting his arms round me when I’m crying. I don’t like this very much, partly because I do not want to relax and put it all on to him, and I feel this is what he wants. He also makes a lot of small suggestions relevant to points I make, and I find this worrying, as if he has assessed me and decided how to act, although we have only talked for twenty minutes. He asks whether I am a Christian, and refers a lot to ‘,the boss”. This does not sound very stupid, and he is obviously sincere, but as I do not believe, it makes me feel that, again my statements are being manly pre-judged.

I spend two hours in his study, although perhaps a third of this is spent listening while he deals with telephone calls. I do feel that I want to see him again, when he asks me to make another appointment, but I do not give my name and address, and although I am sure he is genuine, I feel no compulsion to reveal that I am ‘test-marketing’. I thought I might want to admit that I am from ‘Gay News’, but what I have said about my personal life is true, and I don’t want to alter the relationship before I’ve investigated it further.