Extracts from letters written to “The Scotsman” after the I.T. decision and subsequent furore by Rev. Malcolm H. MacRae, West Free Manse, 21 Mount Vernon Avenue. Coatbridge. Together with our reactions.
“… it is impossible for the homosexual to find real happiness while following his inclinations in a heterosexual society.”
“There is no such thing as a heterosexual society. There is such a thing as a heterosexually dominated society. Homosexuals have always existed, even in the animal world, and always will. They have greatly contributed to all known western societies.”
“Physiologically and psychologically his behaviour is so unnatural that it is doubtful if even in a homosexual preserve … a satisfying way of life could be achieved. I would have thought, then, that the most compassionate and considerate approach would be to do everything possible to restore normal sexual behaviour to the homosexual. Phychiatry can do much to help in this respect.”
Nothing a human being is capable of doing is unnatural — is it natural to refrain from all kinds of sexual activity until one is given legal sanction to indulge? Likewise it is not ‘abnormal’ to be homosexual – what is ‘normal’, if anything is, is to be simply and freely sexual. Psychiatry cannot change one’s sexual orientation, even with aversion therapy. It can create even more acute depression, even more self repression.
“The homosexual finds himself impelled to behave in a way to which, in certain respects, like the behaviour of violent criminals and some classes of mental patient. In these cases it is argued that these people are either unfit to look after themselves or so violent they must have their freedom restricted.”
The Rev. MacRae resembles a mental patient far more than any gay person I have yet met, if his letters are anything to go by. Is he suggesting that we ought to have our freedom restricted or that we are unfit to look after ourselves?
“. . the law must take cognisance of the attack that homosexuality comprises on the institution of marriage and on the accepted moral standards of our society. The law must also be aware of the possibility of the spread of homosexuality, which, in the past, has been very much to the detriment of great civilisations.”
Is he suggesting that this is a great civilisation? Does he know we lost the Empire? The ‘accepted moral standards’ of this and most other western countries are in themselves an attack on humanity, freedom and life and deserve to be attacked in their turn.
“. . . but what is the value of a cure if the individual does not wish to be cured, and how will the individual ever wish a cure as long as the law is lax and society accomodating?”
Just how unpleasant would he make those laws and that society?
“Is he aware of how International Communism views the moral laxity which has overtaken the West?”
Is he aware of how International Communism treats homosexuals. Much as he would like to treat us.
“The grace of God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and because of this delivers even the smug and self-righteous from their equally heinous sins.”
I hope you are talking about yourself there, Rev..
REPORT ON SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 1967 of the SMG LAW REFORM SUB-COMMITTEE
We hold as basic to our philosophy the principle that the State has no cause to interfere with or punish sexual behaviour or expression which does not involve assault, interference with children, or an affront to decency causing annoyance or nuisance to the public.
The 1967 Act falls short of this principle in a number of respects. We list as the most outstanding anomalies the following:
AGE OF CONSENT (Clause 1 (1)). 21 is now even more difficult to justify than when the act was passed, in view of the fact that the legal age of majority has been lowered to 18 by the Family Reform Act 1969
‘IN PRIVATE’ The definition in Clause 1 (2) is more restrictive than that envisaged by the Wolfenden Committee, and is undesirable both because of its discriminatory nature and the handle it gives to blackmailers.
EXCLUSION OF MEMBERS of the Armed Services and the Merchant Navy. (Clause 1(5) and Clause 2). This goes beyond the Wolfenden proposals and extends to off-duty circumstances which could not conceivably affect discipline and which could not constitute an offence if committed by a civilian.
EXCLUSION OF SCOTLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND (Clause 11 (5)). Under the differing sexual conduct laws in different parts of the United Kingdom, adult male homosexuals in Scotland and Northern Ireland have fewer rights than those in England and Wales. At the same time it should be mentioned that at least one penalty under the 1967 Act is harsher than its equivalent under the 1956 Sexual Offences Act. namely that prescribed in Clause 3(2), where the maximum penalty is increased from 2 to 5 years.
MAXIMUM PENALTIES as laid down need revision and rationalization, as do those for sexual offences generally. They are in every case too severe. The primary consideration in assessing the gravity of an offence should be not the precise nature of the act committed but the degree of compulsion or intimidation involved.
PROCURING a homosexual act (even though not for purposes of gain) which is not itself an offence remains punishable under the 1967 Act (Clause 4).
CONSPIRACY is not dealt with in the Act. In the light of recent charges of “conspiracy to corrupt public morals” it would appear that invitations to commit lawful homosexual acts may be an offence in circumstances where similar invitations to commit heterosexual acts are not. The recent House of Lords narrow interpretation of the 1967 Act (14 June 1972) confirms this.
BYE-LAW OFFENCES vary widely and are outside the scope of the Act.
Convener, Law Reform Sub-Committee.
S.M.G. August Conference.
The Scottish Minorities Group is holding its Conference on Homosexuality in the Heriot-Watt University Students’ Centre, 30 Grindlay Street, Edinburgh, on Saturday 5th August 1972, from 10am to 6pm. (Entrance Fee £1 per person.)
SCOTTISH MINORITIES GROUP.
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 041-771 7600
Sir, It is astonishing that there has not been complete public outrage at the sentences on the editors of IT, a perfect example of structuring the law to maintain, in Mr. Robert Mark’s contention, the social status-quo. It may therefore, be useful to throw some light on the way the law works in relation to homosexuals.
Having recently lost a very dear partner, whom I found through the columns of IT, and being ill-attuned to transitory relationships, I wished to advertise in the “Lonely Hearts” column of the well-known “underground magazine” “Time Out”. However, their legal advisor found my advertisement unacceptable because I wanted to meet “younger guys” and they considered this implied subsequent sexual intercourse. So I tried again seeking a partner for a cheap car-camping holiday, “preferably in the Loire”. This again returned because of the “younger guys” phrase (the most rewarding and enduring relationships that I have been fortunate enough to experience have all started with rather intelligent young men in their early twenties) and because I did not stipulate that expenses were to be shared. Frankly. I wasn’t worried if they were or not.
So I tried once again saying that I was a homosexual seeking an understanding younger woman with whom I might start a family. This went into the magazine without question, and I met some really nice girls. So, despite the change on the status books, the conclusion is inescapable that the law regards it as an offence for two men to go to bed with each other, but not a man and a woman.
On the other hand, this same magazine carries many advertisements in which “Attractive male model”, “Attractive male art student, “Adaptable young man” etc seek “remunerative evening work”. Anyone answering these ads will find that most of them are male prostitutes soliciting clients. I have no quarrel with this magazine which gives admirable coverage to social and political problems that the establishment press ignores, but with the law itself, which apparently finds ads. of the latter kind perfectly acceptable.
It is typical of the corrupt and hypocritical society in which we live, the society that Mary Whitehouse and her kind would like to perpetuate, that graft and vice are permissible, whilst decency, honesty and enriching human relationships are not.
Yours etc James Stevens. London W.14.
This is the complete text of the letter sent to the Sunday Times.
The Democratic convention in Miami has turned down a proposal, advanced by gays in America, to repeal all laws involving voluntary sex acts in private.
Gay Liberationists, from all parts of the country, have gathered in Miami for the convention. Some quarters had supposed, because of Senator George McGovern’s liberal leanings, that this was the time to press for the removal of the many laws that still keep homosexuality a crime in most places, even a major one in some States. It is still possible to receive, for a gay sexual act even between adults, a prison sentence which could be as heavy as one passed for a major criminal act, such as armed robbery. The older gay community can still remember when ‘offenders’ felt the full severity of these sentences.
Gay Lib people have already had one brush with the law whilst being in Miami. The cities staid, retired citizens had apparently been ‘shocked’ and ‘horrified’ by seeing gays in drag in the streets and parks. But, much to the indignation of the elder citizens, the gays successfully pleaded in the city courts that the First Amendment entitled them to engage in transvestism if they so desired, and in public too.
Jack Mitchell became a State Registered Homosexual (Societal Adjustment Rating 7.9) on his eighteenth birthday, 4th July 2032. It was a simple ceremony, but he was glad when it was all over, his psychiatric reports and birth certificate checked and his SRH card stamped and issued. He took his pledge willingly and seriously, and was soon embracing his parents and younger sister-in the words of the pledge, “a fully recognized homosexual citizen, mindful of his social responsibility and state recognition”.
Life after that passed in a haze. In his large provincial home town, there were two state recognized gay bars and one club, and also the numerous privately organised SRH parties, given by loving parents in the hope of finding their son a nice young man to settle down with. It was at one of these, only six months later, that he met Andrew Roberts, a 22 year old university graduate.
They fell in love.
Jack’s parents took to Andrew as a second son, and were soon talking in terms of the engagement party. Jack and Andrew were at the stage of walking silently for miles, hand in hand. They let Jack’s parents get on with it. Andrew’s widowed mother lived several hundred miles away, and the news of the engagement was videophoned to her. It made her very happy.
The engagement party was a great success. All their friends, heterosexual and SRH, agreed that they were well suited. Between them they earned enough for a mortgage on a decent suburban house. Jack didn’t want to move away from his home town. Andrew, eventually, acquiesced.
They first had sex two months before the date set for their wedding. Jack was aware that this contravened his SRH pledge, but felt unable to hold out on Andrew any longer. They fell into a routine of fucking (or sucking) every weekend in Andrew’s car, safely parked miles from the nearest village. Jack knew he would be pleased when the marriage ceremony was over and all the guilt and secrecy disappeared.
It was after such an occasion that they drove into a village and stopped at a pub for a drink. The landlord recognised Andrew, who had been the boyfriend, briefly, of the landlord’s son, now happily married. He greeted them heartily.
“Have a drink on me boys” He winked at them broadly, “Heard about the engagement, couldn’t have happened to two nicer people.” He drew a couple of pints, and carried on talking, this time to Jack.
“You’ve caught yourself a fine husband here,” he continued jovially, “Used to be my Simon’s boyfriend, before he married Tim of course. I knew then he’d make someone a fine spouse.”
They finally escaped into a corner with their drinks. Andrew looked pale and untalkative. Jack placed a hand on his.
“Hey, Andy, is anything wrong?” he asked gently. Andrew smiled back, his hand responding to Jack’s touch.
“Not really Darling, I’m just getting doubts about things…”
“About us?” Jack interrupted. He looked anxious. Andrew realized how vulnerable he was.
“No, not about us. I love you as much as ever.”
Jack leaned over and they kissed lingeringly. A middle-aged heterosexual couple sharing the bar nodded and smiled benevolently.
Andrew whispered to Jack, “It’s just… I can’t explain, but I feel I must at least try.”
“Before we get married we ought to talk these things over. I do love you and I do want to live with you, but sometimes I ask myself questions. Questions I am only just beginning to answer. I don’t like the answers.”
“What questions?” Jack’s tone was now earnest and abrupt.
“Well, for example – why should we have to get married? Why can’t we just live together like some straight couples do?”
Jack looked horrified. “Oh my God, Andy, you know why! Because we’re homosexual and we have a moral duty to the rest of society When you get registered you sign a pledge…”
“Yes!” Andrew’s voice was louder now, “Have you read that pledge? Do you know what it says? It binds you to a commitment to uphold the laws of this country, to join no political homosexual organisation, should one ever exist, it urges you not to have promiscuous sexual encounters. What else? Oh yes, it contains a clause saying that you are willing to undergo conversion to heterosexuality should a reliable method be discovered.”
There was silence. Jack was bewildered, and seemed to be thinking furiously.
“Of course I know all that. There’s good reason for every one of those things. Promiscuity used to be common among homosexuals once, we have to keep up standards for the rest of society to accept us.”
“On their terms!”
“Not really. That’s not all the pledge states. It talks about total legal and social equality for homosexuals and the eradication of prejudice. What about the State Registered Homosexual Discrimination Board? It took decades to achieve state recognition for us. The old Campaign for Homosexual Equality did it, and the Royal Federation of Homophile Organisations. Was Antony Grey knighted for nothing?”
Jack’s face was flushed, his eyes bright. Andrew put an arm around his shoulder and said gently, “Love – those days are over two decades ago. CHE and RFHO dissolved themselves on the passing of the State Registration Act 2009. They had to, it was part of the deal. Even the Gay Liberation Front had collapsed by 2013. That’s history. But I can tell you this: not everyone in CHE wanted state recognition. Some of their radicals objected strongly but were shouted down by the grass-roots members.”
Jack looked horrified. “How do you know that! You realise all CHE Bulletins are classified inaccessible information, don’t you. That’s a criminal offence.”
“Ssssh darling. I needed the answers, and I found them. But listen to me. I’ve not finished. What about those who don’t make registration, those with S.A.R. less than 4.6? The freaks, the queens, the dykes. – I know I’m using archaic terminology but you understand. There are over 2 million state recognised homosexuals in this country. Who knows how many don’t make it? The figures are never issued. To achieve recognition you must have two independent psychiatrists testify to your adjustment, and must be a productive and respectable citizen. And the bisexuals get a really rough deal.”
Jack’s eyebrows shot up, but Andrew continued – “Yes! They do exist, but they’re too shit-scared to admit it. Anyone who doesn’t make registration is in constant danger of being hounded, harassed, and arrested at the least excuse. The state registered gay scene is closed to them. None of the legal rights of an SRH apply to them. They’re treated as less than human by the police.”
“Come off it!” Jack retorted. “This isn’t the twentieth century!”
“I know, but it does go on!”
“I don’t believe you!”
Deadlock. Silence. Suddenly Andrew stood up-and grabbed Jack’s arm. “Get your coat and come with me.”
Shaken, Jack followed. They drove for miles in silence. Finally they parked in a dark street in one of the slum areas of the town. Dark tenaments and deserted houses stood crumbling about them.
Jack followed Andrew grimly down some steps. Andrew rang a bell, spoke to the man who answered and they soon walked into a smokey hot room.
“A homosexual bar,” said Andrew, “Non-registered variety.”
Jack felt anguished. As they walked towards the bar, he could in the darkness make out people’s faces. Many of the men were grotesque or effeminate, some wore drag. The place was crowded, a juke box was playing loudly. A man called to Andrew – who acknowledged him briefly. It was a terrifying experience for Jack, a well brought up, middle-class, state registered homosexual boy. He silently sat next to Andrew amongst a group of people. The men here were not really effeminate, but certainly looked different. He was amazed to see women in the same bar. Apparently, this group were state registered dropouts, who had either voluntarily given up or had taken away, their SRH status. He listened to some stories of police entrapment and brutalization, landlord discrimination, and societal prejudice. He took it all in for forty five minutes. After that he suddenly said to Andrew,
“I want to go home.”
Something in Jack’s voice made Andrew turn. He felt suddenly overcome with regret.
They drove to Jack’s home in silence. Andrew turned out the car engine. Jack sat stiffly for a few seconds and then began to sob. He fell into Andrew’s arms, whilst Andrew tried to comfort him.
“I’m sorry my love, I’m really sorry. I know you feel shocked, but you had to know.”
“I don’t want to know,” Jack lifted his face, “I’m frightened. What does it mean? Those people… those revolting people.”
Andrew’s face stiffened. “Those people, Jack, are homosexual, like you and me. They’re not state registered, but they’re still our brothers and sisters. It’s all right if you’re a ‘normal’ homosexual, but individual differences aren’t tolerated. That isn’t freedom. I’ve never been allowed to forget that society’s doing me a favour. I’m an equal citizen, but only after I’ve been castrated and can grovel low enough. Do you call that freedom?”
Jack pulled away and stared blankly at Andrew.
“Of course you feel frightened, the brainwashing has taken a knock, but you’ll come out of it.”
“No,” Jack shook his head. “No, I don’t want anything to do with it. You’re mad. You’ll lose your registration like this. Oh, we were going to be so happy!”
He again broke down and covered his face with his hands. Andrew said nothing, but sat silently. Jack continued, “You’ll be telling me next you’re a member of some organisation or other.”
Andrew laughed bitterly, “Jack, don’t you see – there isn’t an organisation. Everyone has been thrown off the track. The whole thing is a fiasco. But we could build one…”
“Stop it!” Jack shook Andrew’s shoulders, “I won’t listen to you. I can’t listen to you!”
With that he left the car and ran into the house.
Two days passed. Jack refused to talk to anyone. Then Andrew’s letter arrived. Jack’s mother went into his room to find her son hysterical. She read the letter and rang the doctor. While he came, she tried to soothe him.
“Oh my poor baby, calm down. It’s all right, he was the wrong one for you. You’ll feel better without him, you’ll feel better soon.”
After the sedatives wore off Jack fell into a deep depression. He would talk to non-one, go nowhere, and hardly ate. His ramblings were incoherent. In desperation his parents called the doctor, and Jack was admitted to the local psychiatric unit.
Three weeks later, sitting up in bed. feeling dazed. Jack was only dimly aware of the letter he held in his hands.
“Dear sir, It has come to our notice that you have been admitted as a psychiatric patient to the Wilmott Clinic. We regret to inform you that we are forced to rescind your status as a State Registered Homosexual forthwith.”
Silently weeping. Jack crumpled the letter. It fell to the floor.
“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, achieving.” Thus your first editorial.
I find myself rather in agreement with the Lords Beaumont and Arran who expressed their views on Gay News in your first correspondence column. And yet I have subscribed, blindly, to your paper; further I am now writing for it. I’d like to think I subscribed through generosity and a desire to help but the basic reason was selfish curiosity. What would the paper be like? What would it do for me. a forty year old homosexual (unlike the person who accosted Alan Brien, I dislike the description “gay people”)? Would it not be too alien in taste to a reader of the Observer, the Sunday Times, New Statesman, an admirer of the B.B.C.?
Wait and see is my verdict after issue one and that I will do after sending my best respects to Julian Denys Grinspoon, whose piece on the Biograph I found not entirely to my taste. None the less, I have some fellow feeling with the old boy (he surely must be old if I’m any judge of prose style). Anyway. Jule, if you’re under 35 pop round any time and we’ll pull the curtains, switch on the telly, and pretend we’re at the Biograph) because I get randy too. And that’s one of the reasons I joined the CHE correspondence list – I thought something might come of it. There must be many of your readers who are on it or who are contemplating having their names included. Your paper could assist a great number of us by providing a forum for an initial general discussion on what we hope to gain from corresponding with each other.
My main modest ambition was to land up with one or more in a similar age group to me and with some like interests. If, somewhere along the line, a somewhat younger man or woman chose to write to me, and then to meet me, I would have no objection; similarly I would have no objection to hearing from the elderly, although I resolved to discourage the elderly and the effeminate (insofar as I can judge from prose style). Largely, I’m sure, because I live in an agreeable part of the country. I had several letters. Because of this, I felt it cowardly myself not to initiate at least one piece of correspondence and so I selected a man who appeared from the list to be very similar to myself; I gave him the option of not replying. He didn’t, which was one in the eye for me, since I thought giving him that option would clinch it. Next time I shall write to a twenty-one year old and then I can blame the age barrier if there is no reply.
The following briefly sums up the situation with those who wrote to me.
“A” was about my age and he came to see me for the day. We turned out to have little in common. We went to bed, but not with too much enthusiasm, simply because for my part I was feeling like Jules sometimes feels. I wasn’t happy after he’d gone until I’d flung open all the windows and washed all the things his body had touched.
“B” was also about my age but sounded to me (and to ”C” – see below) terribly camp. I have decided to shun those who introduce the words “active” and “passive” too early in the correspondence. I decided the best way of disposing of him was to “outcamp” him in a letter of my own. It was effective, but on reflection, it was also cruel and I shan’t do it again. Also, it would have been awkward for me if it had encouraged him.
“C” is a very lovely memory. About fifteen years younger than me and beautiful. We fucked when we met and while not wishing to intorduce any “Which?” best buy element into this serious subject, I can only say that it was the best I’ve had for years. He’s now moved house and job but I never deluded myself into thinking he would be a permanency in my life.
“D” is my current white hope. I haven’t met him yet; he’s a tardy corresponder but likes my letters. He’s my age though I don’t think our interests altogether chime in. But I like the sound of him and. as I have told him, I think he may turn out to be more like myself than any of my other corresponders.
“E” and “F” are both elderly; “E” clearly wants not to be his age and sounds very effeminate. Unfortunately, he lives very near me. I don’t want to meet him. “F” said in his letter that our interests were similar. When I looked down the list, I could find little that we had in common.
So there are my six. At present, I’m still searching for the ideal one and shall go again on the next list. What does “the ideal one” constitute? Very simply, a friend with whom sex will come (slowly perhaps) to be a simple and natural part of the friendship, not a matter of convenience (sic) as it was with “A” or a once and for all experience like it was with “C” A walk on the downs or a visit to the cinema and then home to bed. I wonder if that’s too much to hope.
Well, it shouldn’t be because it’s something surely, that a lot of people want. It’s just a matter of pairing off correctly. I would be very interested, meanwhile, to hear and read, in your columns (your columns, Neville), the experiences of others with the Che correspondence list. We might all be able to learn something. Is the age barrier important? Do we place too much hope on a happy sexual outcome? (Combining the two, I realise I’ve never had, or wanted, sex with a man considerably older than myself, yet “C” never turned a hair). Does the meeting, after sometimes lengthy correspondence, more often than not result in dissapointment? At least the method allows us to warn the other parties of our defects and I’ve taken full advantage of doing that when writing.
I have insisted to the collective, among whom I suspect the nice people outnumber the nasty ones quite substantially, that if this is published it must be done so under a pseudonym. Nonetheless, if anyone wishes to write to me through Gay News, I’m sure the collective will see to it that any letters are sent to me, and whether You think I can help you or you think you can help me. I’ll do my best to reply. But we can best help each other by giving our views on these pages.
I don’t know whether I’ve made you smile laugh or cringe I only know I want the paper to be a success on as many levels as possible. And if those classified ads on the issue no. 1 were put in by collective or by anyone else, the advertisers should not necessarily assume, because I have not replied, that I don’t want my sporran fondled or that I don’t want to meet someone who’s slim, slightly hairy, and who thinks that sexuality is beautiful. It’s just that I (and I suspect many like me) have some trepidation in replying to such adverts. Anyway, I have turned the tables on them so that they can reply to me through Gay News, having read this article, which should perhaps be Sub-Titled “How to get a free, respectable small ad in Gay News”.
Hello dears, here I am again, to tell you all about future delights and titilations in store for you all at the Biograph.
But first let me tell you a bit about the little holiday I had in Paris last week. It was seven days of blissful relaxation in that beautiful city. Mind you, a couple of odd things did happen. An acquaintance had told me about a cinema I might enjoy whilst over in Paris, saying that I would hardly be able to tell the difference between the jolly old Bio and the place he was recommending. The cinema is called the Mexico and it is in the Porte St Martin quarter. So on the second day of my stay I paid it my first visit.
Very nice too it was. Just like home. Lots of nice re-runs, ever so crowded too. It really was amazing how the Mexico’s clientele were so similar to London’s equivilant. Same familiar strange habits too. It possibly has something to do with its close proximity to the Gare du Nord, as I sometimes feel the nearness of Victoria plays an important part in the restlessness of the clientele of the Biograph.
At the Mexico, they provide a rest room just to the left under the screen, supposedly for people who do not want to strain their eyes for long periods. (Very thoughtful, why not follow their example Bio management.) I tried to get in, but it was so dark and crowded that I soon gave up. Of course, when I got back to my seat someone had pinched it. Cheeky! Nice place generally though, if you can take the Bio’s strange diversions to begin with. After the Bio it made a nice home from home.
Nearly had a nasty incident at a convenience near the Gare de Lyon. I had had, I’m sorry to admit dears, one or two Pernods too many one evening, and was dying to relieve myself. So I eventually found this strange looking iron convenience, but what a queue there was I waited nearly half-an-hour, and was I hopping, and with my best Take 6 trendy suit on too. Anyway, there I was waiting when suddenly the whole place was alive with Gendarmes, who rudely pushed through the small crowd, and into the metal pre-war mausoleum, reappearing a few moments later with a handcuffed bunch of extremely distraught citizens. Well how would you like to be interrupted? Whatever they were up too I don’t know, if anything at all other than Nature’s callings, but I suppose there must be some Parisian by law that states how long you can stay in one place. The only good to come out of the incident was the thrill of having a Gendarme standing guard outside of the place when I finally managed to gain access.
Enough of my ramblings though, what you want is my thoughts on future delights playing at the Bio. Whilst I was away I missed seeing that little angel Michael York in Zepplin. As I said before, not much of a film but I could watch Michael for hours as he does his little thing on the screen. Another goody I missed was The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer. Strange surname don’t you think? Please write to me care of this paper if you can throw any light on what it means. Julian’s intrigued.
Anyway, back to the coming treats that are in store for us all. On Thursday 27 July Jealousy, Italian Style with Monica Vitti is showing, along with The Buttercup Chain with little Jane Asher and that dish Hywell Bennett. The latter is a little charm, with both the stars performing well together.
Sunday fare on 30th July has Paul Newman impressing in that exciting thriller Moving Target. I’ve seen this twice before and it still sends shivers down my, excuse me, spine. To tell the truth though, I’ve always been a little ‘biassed’ towards Paul Newman. Support is the instantly forgetable In a Colt’s Shadow.
Charge Up The Light Brigade shows for three days commencing on Monday 31st July. Stiff upper-lip Trevor Howard and gorgeous Vanessa Redgrave play leading roles in this historical epic, complete with surprises such as the occassional animated sequences. Not a bad picture, well worth a visit. Support is Loving, which I haven’t seen before. I shall pass no comment for now and will hope for the best.
That lovely little boy, David Bradley appears in Kes on Thursday 3rd August. Such a nice boy, even though I couldn’t understand a word he was saying when I saw this previously. The Last Warrior is the second feature, with weather beaten Anthony Quimm showing all he’s got to offer, as an actor that is.
Dear old Henry Fonda acts his heart out in Big Deal at Dodge City on Sunday 6th August. They don’t make westerns like this anymore. Lots of action, guns blazing and men dropping their like flies. Two for The Guillotine is also on the bill. Connie Stevens and Cesar Romero are the actors who find themselves in this rather queer situation. I do love that Connie Stevens, do you remember her from that interminable TV series on the commercial channel a few years ago? Exquisite little voice she used to have.
Henry Fonda turns up again in There Was A Crooked Man on Monday 7th August. Wonder what the title means? Bent goings on no doubt. I must make a point of seeing this as I have missed it at past showings at the Bio. Kirk Douglas plays with Henry in this drama.
Before I leave you let me just say a word about a couple of future attractions. Brotherhood of Satan, followed a few days later by Not With My Wife You Don’t, which features drag star Tony Curtis, are forthcoming goodies not to be missed.
Bonjour and Bonne Nuit for now. Love and Kisses to you all.
For The Biograph programme see Classifieds Page 11.
“The Moon and Sledgehammer” Directed by Philip Trevelyan. Documentary. Vaughn Films/Rank 65 minutes (cut from 90)
“Rentadick” Directed by Jim Clark. Starring James Booth, John Wells, Tsai Chin, Donald Sinden, Julie Ege, Richard Briers, Michael Bentine, Spike Milligan. Distributed by the Rank Organisation. 90 minutes.
“Carry on Matron” Directed by Gerald Thomas. Starring Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Cope, Terry Scott, Hattie Jacques, Joan Simms, Kenneth Connor et al. Distributed by the Rank Organisation. 89 minutes.
The Moon and Sledgehammer is initially a sweet picture of an eccentric family living in a scrapyard idyll in the woods near Horsham in Sussex. On the surface they are living the lives we all “ought” to be living, making everything they need with good old fashioned craftsmanship, restoring old traction engines, shooting the meat they eat. Subtly though, we are soon shown the desperation and unnaturalness of the their existance. The two sons over 30, devoid of wives/girlfriends/boyfriends. The daughter who runs off from time to time, does something crazy and ends up doing bird. Dad, chain smoking, the great dictator who rules mind and body over his family, cool and calculating, and almost succeeding in presenting a picture to the camera of a rosy rumbling country yokel. The precise outstanding direction makes the film by brilliantly capturing facial movements and mannerisms.
Rentadick the main feature of this ill assorted double bill is the latest British comedy from the re-expanding Rank stable. It tells the story of an incapable private detective agency, which is employed by an equally incapable chemical factory to guard the plans of their new nerve gas, from a marauding band of Japanese gas board people, a kind of natural peril. Despite the array of fine comedy actors, and writers, most of whom have had their names removed from the credits, the Monty Python style which rather weakly takes over the closing minutes of the film, gestures towards 1970s satire – there is a signpost with “Neasden” on it; the film is painfully rooted in 1950s style British comedy, the abject failure of which caused the original demise in film production at Rank and British Lion. Its all here folks – jokes about poofters, car chases in eccentrically peopled Rolls Royces and other old faithfuls; weedy young men fainting at the sight of big busted bikinni clad Swedes etc. etc.
The Carry On Films however, are getting ever more brilliant and entertaining as they parody and mock the extreme nonsenses of British Life and its weird sexuality. In the latest Carry On Matron, Sid and the gang plan to rob a large hospital of its stocks of birth pills, and export them to some underdevloped nation, the Republic of Ireland perhaps? This involves Kenneth Cope dressing in drag in order to pose as a nurse, nutty psychiatrists, randy house surgeons chasing the drag nurse, railwayman, and as always the regulation constipation joke. The jokes are blue and broadly funny, the acting, a host of brilliant parodies of those awful people who live next door and these we deal with every day. Everything’s a send up, including the critics, who constantly pan these films; even the big heterosexual womanisers are always played by gay actors; while the cinemas are full of loud escapist laughter, and occupied seats.
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. Anyway, this is what they say about themselves – it is written as advice to Befrienders on how to deal with homosexual clients. Technically it is confidential; however, a copy did come this way.
BEFRIENDING HOMOSEXUAL CLIENTS
Forget the label and treat as you would any client who comes our way.
Remember that there are male and female homosexuals.
What brings them our way?
a. Loneliness: It is up to the branch to try to discover the cause of the isolation. Is it an innate inability to make any kind of relationship, or does it arise from a lack of homosexual contacts? Befriending sets out to help the client to become more of a social being (counselling or some kind of social therapy may make befriending more necessary).
Beware of being misled by homosexual tendencies manifested by the grossly inadequate or extremely mentally disturbed, for whom homosexuality may not be the main problem.
About 5% of the population appear to be homosexuals, so that, particularly in smaller towns, there is great practical difficulty in finding friends. It is easier to find someone with whom you can have a brief sexual encounter than to meet someone who is emotionally and inter-sexually compatible. There is a great need for responsibly supervised groups for lonely homosexuals over 21 – if you have any suggestions or queries, please contact me at the London branch.
b. Insecurity: There is the longer term insecurity that many homosexuals feel. The analogy of marriage which they seek in a relationship, in practice is seldom achieved. They are, therefore, faced with recurrent cycles of relationships followed by break-ups and the resultant decline as a human being. Befriending by a non-sexual Samaritan Volunteer can help such a person to avoid being drawn into another emotional crisis, and enable the homosexual to feel an accepted part of the community at large.
c. Bereavement: The death of one partner or the break-up of a relationship of long or short standing is in no way different from the ending of any strong relationship. There’s going to be shock, prolonged grief, guilt and depression as time distances the event. Society’s attitude can become positively cruel here. How would a heterosexual person feel if their loved one’s relatives forbade them to be present at the funeral. This has happened not infrequently to bereaved homosexuals. A Samaritan befriender can be a tremendous support to a bereaved homosexual client.
d. Fears of Police Harrassment: The age of consent for male homosexuals is still 21 and not 18. (For female homosexuals there is no such prohibition.) It would be useful for all Branches to know of sympathetic solicitors to advise and represent, if necessary, clients on homosexual charges.
What is homosexuality?
Common misconceptions: It is not a sickness. nor a disease that can be cured, nor a wilful perversion. Common psychiatric practice is to help the individual to adjust to his or her condition, and to attend to any depression or other symptoms resulting from attempted repression.
Homosexual behaviour: Sexual behaviour is not always entirely directed in a neat way. Often homosexuals are marginally capable of heterosexual activity, and this can lead to unwise marriage. This can lead to great guilt and fears for their sexuality. There is a small population which is not sexually committed either way.
Transvestites (T.V.s) are usually heterosexual and believe that, by a strange stroke of nature, they are women born into men’s bodies, or vice versa. Every client of this kind should be under the care of a doctor who is a specialist in the field of gender reassignment therapy. There are only half a dozen specialists in Great Britain. Do not take on for longterm befriending a trans-sexual client without the specialist’s knowledge and agreement. Trans-sexualism can be a symptom of schizophrenia or psychopathy.
I should be glad to hear from Volunteers or Directors who would like to take this brief article further. If there are any Volunteers or Directors who have considerable experience of helping homosexual clients, please write to me at the London branch.
Newsletter No.87, December 1971. (Confidential to Samaritans) By Michael Butler (London Samaritans)
So that is the idea. But actual practise can be different – the Samaritans are after all a volunteer organisation, so standards can vary from branch to branch. Here we print, in their own words, the accounts of what happened to-three people who turned to the Samaritans for help.
I am a 20 year old gay girl. I rang Samaritans last April, because I was very depressed about having no-one to talk to about it. I live with my parents and work in a bookshop. I rang, and told the woman who answered that I was depressed because I was a lesbian and very lonely. She invited me to talk about it. I told her that I knew no-one else who was gay, and I needed to tell someone. I explained that I had had a male friend who I no longer see, and that I felt very attracted to a girl who I work with.
She told me that it was not necessary to have sex to lead a fulfilling life. She said that she was three times my age and did not regret not every having a physical relationship. I said the, “Do you mean with a woman?” She replied, “No. with anyone.” She told me she had a number of wonderful friendships. She asked me if I thought I could go on to get married. I repeated that I was homosexual. She asked me if I was sure, I could have convinced myself I was, thus making a terrible mistake, ruining my chances of a heterosexual relationship. I tried to explain how positively I felt about women, and I was sure there was nothing wrong with how I felt.
She advised me to read about “Sappho and her girls”, and to glamourize it in my mind. This would reduce my need to have a physical homosexual relationship.
“I feel,” she said, “that it would spoil your love to put it to the physical test.”
I asked her if there was any homosexual organisation she could refer me to. She denied this. I asked her again, since I felt sure there must be someone. She replied, “Only for male homosexuals – you wouldn’t like them. Male and female homosexuals don’t get on with each other.”
Eventually she gave me the name of a gay club in the town. She told me to go along there and talk to them. She said, “I’m sure they’ll be very serious people. It’s very intellectual, it began with Sappho, lesbians are serious people you know.”
Shortly after this my parents arrived and I had to ring off. I didn’t ring back. Soon after I found out about the local Young CHE group and the GLF group. It’s lucky I did. I don’t know, quite honestly, what I would have done otherwise.
GAY NEWS COMMENTS:
A Gay News reporter mentioned confidentially this case to Chad Varah, director of Samaritans. He told her that the Samaritan who gave that advice would be on the carpet for it. He agreed that it was misguided and commented, “Most people do need sex in order to be happy.”
I am a 19 year old male student. I rang Samaritans because I needed to know where to find other homosexuals. I was becoming very isolated on my course. He immediately told me about the student homosexual society. He then warned me to make quite sure that I was homosexual before I went to them. He said that the only people who could tell me that were the medical profession. He advised me to go to my G.P. for a check-up. I said I didn’t think this was a good idea, as I was sure I was a homosexual. He also recommended me to speak to a student counsellor whom he knew. I thanked him very much and rang off.
I went to the University Union and found out about the homosexual society he mentioned.
For now at least, we’ll leave you to your own conclusions as to how far the branches live up to their instructions from head office. Next issue, however, we’ll be printing some thought on the whole idea of a counselling service, with special reference to the Samaritans, and how effectively they do, or do not operate. BUT…. we’d like to know how you found them, and if they helped or hindered you, and in a future issue well print a selection of you experiences.