On Hearing A Drag Queen Cackle

04-197208XX 08After the sometimes strange prominence given to certain people when writing on DRAG, persuaded, it seems, by twenty-year-old photographs, may a Drag Queen say a word of truth about himself?

In my Act I do — inter alia — the Indian Rope Trick. It has always amazed audiences. Now, another Drag Queen has shown me a new trick. If you are going bald, don’t get too excited too quickly.

One night I was about to appear at a well known night club that is gay. As I combed my hair, prior to pinning it up to take the wig, a Drag Queen friend came into the dressing room. I had produced a tuft — not a few hairs – a tuft of hair on my comb. “Gord, girl, you’ll soon be bloody bald.”

This depressing conclusion had already forced itself upon me, since the supply of hair on the head is limited. How I hated the Drag Queen AND the comment. To add to the injury, he took my comb and gently combed through my locks just once, then screeched: “You’ll soon be a bloody billiard ball.” By great self control. I didn’t tell him to shut his great big cakehole; that I’d had sleepless nights concerning this coming disaster, and that it needed no stressing from that bitch. I do love my long hair.

“I can help you. if you’ll let me.” I thought: “How like a Drag Queen.” Then said;”A fortune awaits anybody who can truly stop hair falling out.” But the bitch wouldn’t be silenced. “I can do it, girl” This was said with such sisterly confidence that I paused, and was told the actual names of Drag Queens who had not only arrested the fall of hair, but now had a new growth. This was irresisible. “How much?”

I paid over some pounds and in due course the Drag Queen delivered to me some pretty pink pills: “Take two a day for the first week, then one a day.”

Let me be honest with you. dear reader. I would have eaten shirt buttons once persuaded that my nightmare of baldness could be overcome. I carried out instructions. After only a few days, the hair actually ceased to come out and my long locks took on a new glow.

Friends remarked on the change. Later. I bought more pretty pink pills and kissed the phial each night. Some time later I developed pneumonia.

In hospital I was made to feel important, special. Doctors called other doctors to my bed. I knew I must be something special.

Could these clever men tell that I had new, strong hair? Could they know the Drag Queen had shown me a new trick? Eventually, I was allowed to get up and bath. Only then did I realise that they DID know. No pills had been taken for a long time, but ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall,” I could see how special I had become — was still becoming — that I should titillate to the grave: the pills had given me hair, they had also given me tits.

The moral of this story seems to be: ‘The Gods can give with two hands — hair and two tits, if a Drag Queen can be said to be a God. What a trick! Who’s amazed now?

Where is CHE?

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

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

THE GROUPS

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

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

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

YOUTH GROUP

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

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

EVENTS

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

WORKING PARTIES

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

1. Social Responsibilities

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

2. Gay Liaison

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

3. Speakers

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

4. Religious

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

5. Friend

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

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

6. Lunch

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

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

WOMEN

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

WHERE IS CHE?

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

Bonuloj Estas Gejaj

04-197208XX 08or if you’re good you’re gay.

Last year Arthur Bottomley, a former Cabinet Minister accused President Pompidou of being chauvinistic. He asked “What right have the French to be so arrogant as to think that French is the language of Europe? English is the language of the World.” Some Labour politicians are renowned for adopting conservative attitudes, whilst others who deny Imperial nostalgia feel that the decision to enter the Common Market depends solely on financial criteria. For all that Zamenhof did, idealistic internationalism is dying and chauvinism is winning the day.

Zamenhof? Who the fuck was Zamenhof?

A Polish Jew. No he wasn’t gay like Tchaikovsky but I’m sure Mr Bottomley wouldn’t have agreed with him either. Zamenhof thought there ought to be a World Language — one which belonged to no-one yet belonged to everyone a language that all should be able to learn. He gave it no name but people called it Esperanto. And that language is alive today with people speaking it on a wider scale than ever before. A television course shown at peak hours has just finished in Holland and one will start soon in Czechoslovakia; the Japanese opposition would teach it in primary schools and Jill Tweedie mentions that about 16,000,000 are supposed to have learnt it.

The stand taken by homosexuals now has relevance for the Esperanto movement in that the attitude towards homosexuality is undoubtedly changing and the status quo of the future will not be determined by today’s obsolescent so-called morals. Any movement which has its eyes on the future must admit that fact, for if it does not the movement has no future.

In his address to the annual British Esperanto Congress this year the new president Graham Leon-Smith said “The permissive society has entered the Esperanto movement and we should be glad. Let Esperanto be used fully and freely for all purposes and let that include discussion of and about sex.”

And in August edition of The British Esperantist, Dermod Quirke the vice-president of the British Esperanto Association writes. “I know full well that there is not an insufficient number of homosexuals in our ranks; it is necessary only to conquer our reticence and become organised. So I request all homosexual readers that they contact me. Of course social intolerance still stops many brothers and sisters from publicly discarding their masks: I will therefore protect the anonymity of all who reply. In any case, masked or unmasked, now is the the time for us to go out of our closets, to leave our ghetto and to enter the World as proud human beings”.

Such a statement should not be surprising for a movement claiming to be tolerant of other nations and cultures must be tolerant of homosexuality. Because homosexuals are human-beings, and because all human beings have a right to use Esperanto, so the Esperanto movement accepts homosexuals. Homosexuals need not be thankful to Esperantists for a right which should not have to be demanded but at least Esperantists strengthen their cause by showing that they are not intolerant bigots.

For further information contact
Brian Barker,
3 Crowland Terrace, London N.2.