Trolling in Tehran

04-197208XX 04When I set off last year on a business trip to Teheran and other Iranian cities, I had the dottiest picture in my mind as to what it was all going to be like. The only thing that I knew as a fact was that Iran is the most curiously arrogant and corrupt place from a business point of view. With all this naughty bevaviour I had visions of potential gangbang at every street corner. Far, far from it dear Reader.

I suppose we all know that the slant of Moslem culture is towards an easy acceptance of homosexual behaviour both in the home and in public. I’d seen Arabs in places like Jeddah and Beirut walking hand in hand without the public giving it a second glance. But in Iran its all very very confusing. To start off with, in the great cities like Teheran or Tabriz, where there is some degree of western sophistication, overt homosexual behaviour barely exists at all.

But paradoxically, you have only to drive for ten minutes past the Mayfair of Teheran, up the mountains behind Shemiran, and you find a selection of chaikhanehs (tea houses) complete with beautiful dancing boys who entertain largely middle aged clients. You can find the same establishments in Meshed and Isphahan. The fascinating thing is that this sort of entertainment has been provided for the past 2,000 years, but today it seems only to be seriously patronised by the elderly gents who sit quietly drinking tea and watching the gyrations of the boys, some of whom are very beautiful indeed. They retire from ‘business’ at around 18 years of age, and more than half of them get married on the proceeds of their work.

But the gay young things of Teheran or Tabriz would not be seen dead in such a place. To them its all too old fashioned, stuffy and conservative for words. There are literally no gay Bars or Clubs as we understand them in the U.K. It is true that there are a few cafes where you might just have the luck to pick up something interesting, but it is very likely to be rent. You will be far luckier in the lounges of the better class western type of hotel.

I think that there is also a deepseated, but almost entirely unadmitted, resentment of the white mentality, and therefore of the white persons possible sexual approaches. I did meet two charming and highly educated Iranis, but they had both been to Europe, and knew the gay ropes well! They confessed that a white body did not mean all that much to them sexually, and that it was white women that were in demand …. not men!

This reserve is all tied up with the inevitable association of homosexuals with drugtaking hippies and wierdos who have passed through Iran on their way to and from Afghanistan, via Iran.

And that brings me to the matter of Hash and/or Pot. Unless you wish to be shot at sight or sent immediately without trial to prison, do not under any circumstances look for, attempt to buy, or even import any form of Hash. Whilst I was there for a mere 4 weeks on biz, no less than 4 people were shot out of hand because they had been arrested with it on their person.

Before I’d ever got there, people had told me the wildest stories about the goings-on in local Hammams.

I tried four in Teheran and two in Tabriz. They were about as turned on as a Sunday School Treat. In Meshed, which is a sacred Moslem city, complete with shrines of all sorts, I was politely directed to an ‘unbelievers’ hamman. All I saw there was a slightly deformed young man soaping his parts with rather more fervour than was entirely required … and that was about it.

But, and there’s always a but, if you do have the good fortune to meet an Irani who is a member of one of the select private hammams. I’m told that these are not all that innocent, and all sorts of things can and do happen in them.

I just didn’t have the luck to meet a subscriber.

So if you ever contemplate going to Iran for your hold, don’t imagine that its a riot of sex and fun. It’s so hot you can fry an egg on the pavement from April to October, and though it’s beautiful beyond belief, it’s bloody dull if you are looking for what is innocently known as Trade.

Little Gay School Book?

04-197208XX 04On 24 June, young gays from the whole country converged on the plush Central Collegiate Building of University College, London, for another Young Gay Conference. Despite a noticeably poor attendance from certain groups invited, the conference began by discussing critically action taken since the last meeting.

Distinct concern was shown at the complete lack of support from any of the many headmasters contacted over the schools campaign, and other methods were considered including the compilation of a “school’s kit”, which would contain tape-recordings and literature, and could be used by teachers.

The recently formed London University Homophile Society, GAYSOC, by whose ingenity the conference room was procured, announced definite success with the university’s medical staff, as did the representative from Bath University. Kent representatives, however, were somewhat depressed at their university’s reaction, and their numbers remain minimal. Attempts had been made to enliven various “straight” discos on London and provincial campuses, with some success.

The London CHE Youth Group expressed surprise at the somewhat conciliatory attitudes of the London University Christian Union, whom they have recently met. Hugh Farlie (Bath) considered that diehard Christians were a definite source of prejudice. A possible solution was iterated by Gough Sergeant (Reading) when he suggested that a letter of St. Paul to the CHE might be found, so throwing the Biblical fundamentalists into confusion!

Tony Ryde questioned the setting up of exclusive university groups, and others thought that some students might consider that such societies would be of a transient nature only and so be reluctant to commit themselves. Advertising of such groups was also considered, and it was concluded that this should not be of a too aggressive variety.

In the second half the suggestion for a “schools kit” was reiterated, and the preliminaries towards the publishing of a LITTLE GAY SCHOOL BOOK were discussed. It was also suggested that in the case of a stubborn headmaster, the appropriate parents association might be contacted.

In universities, it was agreed that more co-operation was necessary between gay and straight students. The more introverted students must also be encouraged to “come-out”.

Dr Reuben’s book was again unanimously condemned, and further action to restrict its distribution by local bookshops was agreed upon.

A member of the ‘SAMARITANS’ who attended suggested that local homosexual organisations should achieve greater co-ordination with regional Samaritan directors, so the relevant homosexual cases could be forwarded.

In conclusion, the whole meeting expressed a desire to ensure closer contact with the CHE, GLF and GAYSOC groups present. This wish was followed by an expression of overall satisfaction at the conference, and further liaisons were arranged; for instance, over combined
activities in UK universities’ “freshers’ weeks” next October.

Thanks were extended to CHE London Youth Group, to GAYSOC and also to the conference Chairman, Robert Maynard, who showed obvious prowess in fulfilling his task.

“COME TOGETHER?”

04-197208XX 04Durham Gay Liberation Front is not dead, only sleeping. At present there is no demand for a GLF here it seems that the gay population is in the enviable state of not needing liberation! The few people who still come to our meetings also attend Newcastle GLF – which is flourishing – so it was my original intention to disband the group. However, I have been persuaded to change my mind, and we are just suspending meetings until a demand for them occurs.

We have just succeeded in placing an advertisement in the Northern Echo, and are planning a publicity drive in the Durham student population next year: if we obtain sufficient interest the group meetings will be restarted, and if not then we will be sadly forced into liquidation.

First published in “Muther Grumble”, the North-East’s Other Newspaper.

Challenge?

04-197208XX 05Challenge was founded in February by five people who felt that there was a need for a group which was neither politically oriented nor ‘over-organised’. We have weekly meetings, of around forty people at present, which usually start with someone giving a talk about something of interest, and continue with a social get-together over drinks. We have a brief manifesto and a good way of showing our intentions would be to quote the first three paragraphs:

The aims of Challenge are to bring about greater social acceptance of homosexuals by means of charitable and social work within the whole community, and to combat the isolation and difficulties, so often experienced by homosexuals, through discussion and mutual help.

Challenge will have no religious leanings or political policy beyond the advocation of equal rights with heterosexuals. Exhibitionism, hostility towards heterosexuals, and the provocative demonstration of affections in public will be avoided.

Challenge will be constructive and positive in order to further, by example, the acceptance of “gay” people amongst the “straight” majority. Advice, and where possible assistance and home visits, will be available to gay people suffering from loneliness, depression or a breakdown of health, and to anyone in despair.

So far we haven’t been as successful as we would wish in promoting the social work aspect but this isn’t through lack of trying.

I would like to point out that we welcome interest from anybody and we will shortly be having branches as our membership looks as if it will increase quite rapidly in the near future. At the moment we meet in a room above a pub in Kilburn and charge 10 pence per person. Perhaps interested people would care to look us up on the back (information) page.

“Queer” is how I feel

04-197208XX 05I feel there must be many potential readers of Gay News who have a similar situation to mine (see below) so perhaps you will be interested in my reaction to your first 2 issues.

I am greatly heartened by the existence of Gay News and filled with admiration that the product is so together, considering all the problems you must have had. I think the design and presentation is completely satisfactory although I didn’t care for the drawings, (except the one illustrating ‘Hamburger Jesus’ in no. 1). I approve of a radical viewpoint but you generally seem to be writing to gays who have long since come to terms with themselves and have only the Gays-in-Society problem to overcome. I mean that the contributors to, and persons written about in G.N. so far, seem already liberated. Maybe this is how it should be but read on! I hope for their sakes there aren’t many like me but I suspect there are and I am far from adjusted yet. I can’t add my voice to Gay Lib until I am a self assured gay. How about some encouragements and re-assurance for those like me! For example I would have been very interested in details of how David Hockney reached his apparently happy state – how did he tell his Mum? As your paper has moved me to write my feelings down you may also be interested in the non-events which have led me from total to partial ignorance; in any case it will be good therapy to precis it for myself, so here goes. It’s rather sad so get out your hankies!

Nine months ago I could not have written down I AM GAY without being sickened by myself. I have known since school that I was attracted to boys but as I also liked the company of girls I hoped I could encourage a hetero urge and become “normal” (cliche no.1). I never knew anyone who admitted to being gay and felt I was the only one in the World etc. etc. This had eaten away my confidence and although I have friends I can’t have a close friendship, because I can’t be completely honest with them. After years of worry and a few disastrous attempts to form hetero relationships I finally admitted to myself last year that I am gay and always will be. (I still hate saying it; it seems such an inappropriate word – “queer” is more how I feel). I hadn’t the courage to tell friends or parents in case they are repelled – still haven’t! And so I was completely despairing and felt utterly alone, but this year things looked up. From somewhere I found the confidence to improve my career and then almost at the same time I met Mr. Wonderful! (Surge of Strings). He seemed to quite like me and he has very similar tastes in entertainment, records, clothes etc. He is about my age and in more or less the same profession. And he is gay! (Thrills). The few gay people I have met or known of so far I have found rather caricatured anyway; unattractive, probably because I was too naive to recognise them unless they were very camp.

But he is a real person, sensible, sensitive and I love his weaknesses. He has gay friends and straight friends who accept him, although he is not without hang ups. Now the most banal pop love songs seem meaningful and I can’t listen to Dusty S. without becoming an emotional jelly. Is this boring you? Well one night we went to a (nice) gay club and the people were beautiful – I was amazed that they weren’t all posturing ponces. You can imagine the thrill of dancing with him after years of trying to enjoy groping girls. A little later after another evening out, I mustered the courage to tell him I was gay. He knew of course, but it was quite something for me to tell someone. He was very patient and sympathetic and near enough kissed me (Heaven!). It was such a relief to be open with someone at last that on a later occasion I just had to tell him I was crazy for him. SHIT!! What a mistake! He (tenderly) told me he was still hung up on an old boyfriend. That’s the end of the story. I still see him sometimes but he seems to be able to live without me as he doesn’t phone nearly often enough. What should I do Auntie Gay News? I’ve probably shown him my weakest side – Should I have taken the initiative? Are there others like him? There can’t be! My entry into GAYLAND starts and ends with him. How can I tell people what I am when I haven’t even been gay? Instead am I technically a homosexual? What a sad tale! But still I will be optimistic; things must change.

It’s done me good to wnte this down – I wonder if you’ll print any of it. I sure hope he doesn’t read it and recognise us or I’ll never face him again so please please don’t print my name or address (perhaps one day…). I would answer letters though.

Pin Ups and Gay Politics

04-197208XX 05I am writing to give you some of my impressions of your first two issues.

In general I preferred your first issue to the second. What I liked in the first was the air of enthusiasm and of willingness to give expression to the ideas of all gay people. But already in the second issue, one has the impression that the radical feminists in London G.L.F. are to be excluded from the realm of gay people with legitimate grievances to be heard.

Both issues were rather prudish and respectable and I hear the respectable gay establishment of CHE etc. have given you their seal of approval. I was rather surprised when a friend pointed out that in many ways the American Advocate is a better paper than Gay News. People who have seen the American paper will know that it is completely male orientated, that it carries pin ups of “beautiful” men and that it has many adverts for gay clubs and baths. It also has wide news coverage and a certain vitality about it. So far as I can gather it is the most widely read American gay paper. (It would be nice to hear from an American sister or brother about how successful the various types of papers are).

So far Gay News has been completely male orientated and, with luck, your news coverage will become more comprehensive. But besides this the Advocate is also a sexy paper, where yours is not. I like the Biograph reviews, and I am pleased you hope to re-print “the ultimate cottage wall story” from Come Together. I hope to see more of this sort of thing. In many ways written accounts of sexual pleasure may be better than pictures of “Beautiful” people. The piece from Come Together 12 conveyed the excitement of cottaging very well. Gay News should do more to counter the oppressive respectability and anti-sex attitudes that permeate CHE and some of the diverse elements of G.L.F. In order to explain why I think these attitudes are oppressive I would like to discuss the question of pin-ups.

Curiously Mary Whitehouse and some radical elements in G.L.F. agree that pin-ups are bad, arguing that they transform people into sex objects. We are told that we should relate to people as “whole” people and not just as a cock or a vagina. But I, for the life of me, cannot detect a difference between “having sex” and “treating someone as a sex object” – at least in the moment of sexual enjoyment. In the actual process sex is a purely physical emotional and sexual experience. Different people have different physical and emotional needs, but, so far as I can see, in the actual act of sex we can be nothing more nor nothing less than “sex objects”. What is oppressive is to be regarded as nothing more than a sex object which is often the case with women who are supposed to be totally subservient to mens’ whims and fancies, but equally oppressive is the idea that we should never treat each other as sex objects. This is to give sex a mythical and exalted meaning which I can’t understand.

Thus I don’t think pin-ups should be condemned for transforming people into sex objects, but I do think there is a more important objection to pin-ups such as those printed in the Advocate. This is the argument that they tend to nurture and reinforce a rigid conception of what is beautiful. The worship of youth and beauty are an especially pernicious force in the male gay world. From talking to people I think that the problem facing many gay men and women is not that people use them as sex objects but that, because they are old or “ugly” they are deemed unattractive. There is nothing they would like more than to be treated as a “sex object.”

This is a problem G.L.F. has hardly begun to take seriously. I suspect it is a problem beyond CHF’s narrow concern. And within the gay world itself this can be the worst form of oppression faced by many sisters and brothers. We have our own Miss World competition every Saturday night in the Colherne and the Boltons.

With this in mind I think your policy keeping sex in words and not pictures may be the best one since it leaves the visual assumptions about age and beauty to the readers imagination. I hope you will look further into the problem of Gay News being sexy without being oppressive.

There is more I would like to say about the differences between G.L.F. and CHE’s approach to things because I think these are important for the future of Gay News. I agree with many of your criticisms of G.L.F. and the radical feminists in London, and I have heard reports of awful things they have done to people. But your reaction to this seems to have led to over respect for CHE. However, fundamentally I feel G.L.F. has much more to offer most gay people, both at the personal level and at the level of social change, whereas CHE often seems downright oppressive to people who enjoy cottaging, promiscuity etc.

I feel that approval from C.H.E. is rather like a kiss of death for any grass roots and meaningful gay paper. I hope you will become less respectable, I hope your collective will in time become less preoccupied with the mechanics of the production of the paper and have more time to talk about the oppression of gay people as it affects the sisters and brothers within the collective. I would like to explain myself more clearly but will restrain my pen for the time being.

Fraternally yours,

Bob Mellors.

Conveyor Belt Sex

04-197208XX 05Unfortunately from the word go., the relationship was no.

No in the mind of what he wanted.

Clapham Common, Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath, Baker Street toilets.

Could one develop a relationship with another person finding them in one of these spots. He supposed it was an accepted fact that if a male picked up another in a homosexual patterned joint, that it was sexual necessity first and foremost. Since it was quite easy for one to get sex this way, in these places, no bother to meet again just hop down to the bog.

Hence! “You’re beautiful.”

But they never meet again for someone else came along to take the momentous place.

The conveyor belt moves on.

So one gets up in the morning and looks over to the form lying somewhat detached from himself and thinks. “O no. I’ve done it again. I’ve sexed, slept, probably smiled with someone, shared something. But it was all a lie, it meant nothing. The insincerity of a passing acquaintance crippled with the background of a dizzy pickup in the jungle makes me feel sickly.” This is my life, one thinks. Young and wanting not just sex but a wholesome relationship and what does one get?

Degradation being forced to go to these hunting grounds whatever form they’re in; meeting someone who excites you, going home with them, acting friendly and nice. And then for the big climax, having sex, climax? sex …….. only?

And then feeling hollow because you know instinctively that there’s no true feeling, there is or was a sexual feeling but that’s gone in the vacant morning.

Because of the factors that the homosexual plays in – this long conveyor belt of one night, two week relationships he is trapped into being excessively free about his sexual relationships. Unfortunately, though these little bouts mean nothing. Basically nobody looks for a negative life style. But it is there

One sees and meets older men. They are twenty-eight, forty two, one thinks, someday I’ll be there. One sees nothing very encouraging. Men who have adjusted and accept this light, meaningless life.

They are happy (accept) with insincere little frolicks. Contented with just sex. Crippled inside with no real love.

Homosexual groups are good in that it has brought to the public’s eye (shortsighted) that homosexuals are around and probably has dispersed a lot of myths about them (which are corny). There is also a much better chance of meeting people without showing a cock first. Ten years ago, negroes were still maids. Now they are much more. It is insane to have negroes only play as butlers in Hollywood.

Homosexuals will be more accepted in ten years time. But I feel that a lot of the problem is to do individually. Society has supressed the homosexual. And when the law does break itself to free them it will be them to liberate themselves to a happier life.

By an 18 year old boy
Anonymous

PS. I like your magazine.

Graham Chapman interview

04-197208XX 0704-197208XX 06The interview took place during an evening spent by most of the collective at Graham’s home; consequently the discussion was somewhat wide-ranging and occasionally rambled into some rather odd territory. What follows is an edited version, which we hope covers most of the important ground we went over that night.

Denis Lemon: Gay is no better than straight, but isn’t it true that gays are possibly in a far better position to see things that heterosexuals can’t; because they are somewhat outside straight society they can see better the cracks in our society.

Graham Chapman: Well, heterosexuals are oppressed too, and I think there’s a very good case for a Heterosexual Liberation Front, because women….it’s a Women’s Lib thing really, isn’t it? And Women are very, very oppressed. They are certainly not equal human beings at the moment, and that is very unfortunate. It’s particularly unfortunate for all of us, because we all have mothers, and our mothers, in the position of being oppressed, in turn oppress us. push us with all kinds of views we shouldn’t really hold. In fact, I think mothers as such, as produced by our society, are probably responsible for most of the wars we’ve ever had. Because they teach us to be so butch, they teach us to be aggressive towards little Johnny next door – it starts right from the cradle and goes on forever to the extent that we eventually go to war against another nation. Whereas they should have been teaching us to love – but they’ve never been taught to love. They are oppressed by their menfolk, they are made to feel inferior… that their own job is to do the washing-up, provide a home, things like that. And the men are made to feel terribly butch. The little boys are taught rather differently from the little girls, by their parents; taught to reject affection.

I saw a programme on television today about deaf children… and at one stage they were asking the little girls whether they had kissed the little boys and whether they had particular boyfriends, and things like that ooh, aren’t we being like adults the girls always said, “He’s my boyfriend, I’ve kissed him,” and the little boys were all saying, “No. no she hasn’t, no, ugh. awful, cissy’’, and all that kind of thing. What a pity! Why shouldn’t a little girl kiss a little boy. Why not a little boy a little boy, or a little girl a little girl?

We build into ourselves at a very early stage this awful business of sexual orientation — no wonder problems arise later. Little boys grow out of kissing their fathers very early, far too early; a little boy should be able to kiss his father until he dies.

This stupid masculine image we try and put on ourselves – butch, go out and fight, all that — that’s what’s ruining the fucking world. Little boys, unfortunately, aren’t brought up on love, on the whole. I mean, they are to a certain extent, but it’s a very limited love, isn’t it?

Doug Pollard: I think they’re turned out of the family far quicker than girls are, if you see what I mean. Men are turned to look outwards, away from that, whereas girls are taught inwards, towards their mother and the family structure.

G.C.: Which they’re beginning to reject, fortunately.

D.L.: Boys have a master plan arranged by their parents first the school, then the rush into “O” Levels and “A” Levels and then into university – “Otherwise you’re not going to make it”. The girl is usually left to make the best of what she can, and so accepts her role as a hairdresser or a Woolworth’s shop-girl.

G.C.: A sideline on that is, that in mv experience as a doctor, as far as women are concerned. they are always far more honest sexually You know, the oodles of women I’ve interviewed for gynaecological, midwifery, or even VD reasons, they’re always much more honest than the men. The men are afraid, they won’t he honest, and also you feel embarrassed about asking a man whether he’s ever had VD or a homosexual experience, whereas a woman, on the whole, will be much more honest about it and have less fear sexually. Men have a lot of fear sexually. I suppose it’s largely to do with the fear they may never be able to raise a beat, or their cock’s short, or something like that, which is a ludicrous fear, but men do have that, it’s built into them, it’s part of their male ego that they have to be the butch one.

Because of his early education, the little boy is a little boy, and he’s going to be a man. and, you know, mother gets a bit angry if he cries when he’s knocked out a tooth on some stupid train or something he’s been pushing around in the yard. Mother says you shouldn’t cry because you’re a little boy, and you’re going to be a man.

That all builds up inside people eventually, people are pushed to the point of being afraid to express emotion – and we should be capable of expressing emotion and we should never be afraid to do so.

We must also be intelligent at the same time, there’s no point in rushing round screaming all the time, and that’s where it works out to the disadvantage of ladies, because they don’t have the inhibition on emotions and on the whole aren’t taught to hold back. They can cry if they want to, they can break down and have hysterics. They should have a bit more of the “shouldn’t do this, shouldn’t do that”, perhaps. I don’t know. Maybe the two things should just blend together and you shouldn’t treat children as being different sexes at all. I think that’s the ideal situation, actually, because children aren’t different sexes, and experience, going to bed with a man and going to bed with a woman is totally similar — absolutely totally similar.

Richard Adams: But do you enjoy them equally, in retrospect?

G.C.: No – obviously I prefer men. I did enjoy women a great deal, but than I found, partly because of their… the way they want you to live, which on the whole is a kind of middle-class way to live… that I couldn’t live with that. And anyway, I don’t quite know why, but I prefer men physically. I’ve no answer to that. I don’t know why. But I do. But a woman, because of the way she’s taught in her early life, is very conservative. Maybe this is something innate, because the woman on the whole is the person who brings up the family, and she is therefore more conservative. On the whole women are conservative in every way, politically too.

Maybe that’s what makes them behave in that way. you know, “You mustn’t do this, you mustn’t do that, you ought to get a nice steady job, you ought to cut your hair shorter, and you ought to… ”, you know.

This isn’t unkind, is it?

R.A.: Is that what you reject?

G.C.:… women’s conditioning? Entirely. I’m very pro-women’s lib, I really am, ’cos that would be homosexual liberation as well, it really would. “Let my son do what he wants”.

Elephants Are Homosexual

D.L.: The GLF people at Spare Rib – they were very down on it because it wasn’t very radical, preaching, and they seemed to miss the point that not everyone has got their head in exactly the same place as they have, and that what is important is to let people know gradually, to inform them. And that’s the importance of Spare Rib.

G.C.: If you scream at people, nobody listens. You have to do it – I’m not saying calculatedly gently – but you have to do it intelligently. You have to have good arguments, reasonably publicly set out, and if you’re going to get the parents of the current generation to see anything at all of what you say, they have to see something in your arguments. And if they can. perhaps their children will too. We also have to appeal to the children. I think GLF’s primary concern at the moment, however, is with themselves, and trying to start a revolution that will never happen.

R.A.: The revolution is over.

G.C.: It hasn’t happened. Their concern should be with getting a bloke that’s worried about latent homosexuality, though he probably doesn’t know he’s even worried about it. in

Huddersfield, reading something in a magazine, and then saying, well, there are other people

like me, so I needn’t commit suicide. That’s where their concern should be, ‘cos there’s a lot of people in this country now commit suicide, because they think they’re homosexual, and are worried by it. And that should never, never happen, because it’s a nice thing to be.

It’s a perfectly normal state of being – in the animal world too. Elephants are homosexual, apes are homosexual, snakes are homosexual, and in fact worms positively always are, and absolutely no-one… well, I think even Mary Whitehouse wouldn’t worry about worms.

GLF ought to be trying to get the country as a whole, the world as a whole… they should be trying to get the message over “Gay is Good”. I mean, that’s their slogan. But although I agree with the aggressive element in it, in that it gets gay noticed, because you come up against police, authority and so on (and a certain amount of aggression is necessary in any revolution, and in a way we do need gay revolution), at the moment they are going about it the wrong way. They are too inward looking, they’re looking only at themselves, and thinking, and that has been the problem with homosexuality throughout the history of humanity. They look inwards and they think “We are different”. That’s exactly what GLF are doing, and that’s exactly what they mustn’t do, they must accept that they are normal. and go out and tell people that they are normal, not that “I am strange”. Therefore, if you are trying to tell people that you are normal, you don’t rush around in strange painted faces, and be aggressive at women’s liberation meetings you can do that, but you don’t have to be so aggressive that you alienate people who are on the point of changing their minds. GLF at the moment has become meaningless, it’s helping nobody, and that’s what they should be doing, helping people. That’s what we should all be doing. GLF was, but it isn’t now

R.A.: It should also be asserting itself. The Spare Rib incident was an assertion – and an extreme form of assertion.

G.C.: I’m all for extreme forms of assertion.

But GLF, as it stands at the moment, can’t afford to do that because it’s membership is so limited. They should be outreaching, not inwardly searching. What they should be doing is using their own kindness, and their own homosexuality for helping other people. Now, that whole element has gone, they don’t do that any more. They’re much more interested in themselves, and that is the appalling thing that happens with homosexuality, unfortunately, because of repression.

D.L.: In a way that’s accepting the myth that they’re trying to break.

D.P.: But they also seem to be saying that they arc different, and therefore somehow better.

G.C.: Which of course is nonsence. Everyone’s exactly the same, which is what I’m saying… they have to over react, they have to say O.K. I’m a homosexual, and then wander round with a handbag and go MNWEEUMP! (untranscrihable word and unprintable gesture). There’s no point to it, they’re not, not saying they’re homosexual, they’re saying they’re freaks -and homosexuality isn’t anything to do with being a freak. It’s a perfectly normal state of being. And they musn’t try to persuade people that they should be totally homosexual at the expense of loving ladies, that are quite nice things really. If only because… well, the basest remark would be to say that they give birth to nice boys. They are rather nice creatures really. I like them.

Martin Corbett: If only they’d wash the makeup off their faces.

G.C.: Oh, I hope they will, and a lot of liberated ladies do.

Algy, Biggies & Ginger

D.P.: And so-called liberated men put it on. G.C.: Well, that’s a contradiction. People from GLF have attacked me once or twice for things we do in “Monty Python” that refer to people being gay. All we are doing there is just using the word, not making any reference to it, whether it’s good or bad or anything. We don’t care, any of us, anyway. But just using the word. You know, we did a thing about Algy, Biggies and Ginger, and Algy was a pouf. We found that kids had been joking about that in the schoolroom; they no longer do the things they used to do in my schooldays, of sniggering about people that might be “queer”, or someone touching them up in the showers, or “One of them”, you know, words like that. They’re open about it and they don’t mind. That’s exactly right.

R.A.: But do they still find it amusing? I hope so.

G.C.: Funnier. But not in the same way. You see, they found it amusing because they think they know more than their teachers, they think that they’re broadminded. That’s a turn-round. I think. They’re more broadminded than their parents, and they don’t particularly mind any of their friends touching each other up or anything like that.

M.C.: Are you going to do any more Monty Python’s? And what’s the future, for the coming year?

G.C.: We’ve got another thirteen Monty Python’s coming up in September, we’re doing a show for Bavaria TV. We re doing a Monty Python film, an original one this time, not like the last one. which was made totally for the States but got shown over here, which was rather a pity. The other things are more personal . . . I’m writing a play, and hope to finish that off by November. I never really know my future for more than a few months in advance. I know it for about a year in advance at the moment.

M.C.: Every interviewer asks this question, but … if you want to direct Shakespeare or anything.

G.C.: No, I don’t. I want to write, that’s all.

I don’t want to perform, become a great star, or anything like that. It’d be a total bore, and the risk isn’t worth it. I’d like to write … on the psychological side, I suppose. Not that I know anything about psychology, or psychiatry.

M.C.: That doesn’t matter, neither do most psychiatrists.

G.C.: No, exactly, they don’t. I’ve spoken to a lot of them — no worries there.

D.L.: In the States “Monty Python” is becoming more well-known. In England you don’t hide your gayness (and you don’t exploit it cither). Do you think that your openness could be harmful in the States?

G.C.: I will never go there. I have been once, about seven years ago, for about six months, and I’ve no desire to go back. I don’t see how I could. Until recently, I couldn’t. I’d have to have said I was a pouf on the visa forms, and I wouldn’t have been allowed in. I’ve no desire to go there, because I don’t think it’s particularly a centre of anything that’s valuable at all for our society. And we’ve nothing to learn from their mistakes, they’re all mistakes that have been made before – there’s nothing you could learn from them that you couldn’t learn from knowing your own past, even in the school playground, and they’re still at that stage. They’re still at school. I think they’re appalling people, on the whole.

We then broke off the interview in order to have a few drinks and a meal, in the course of which Graham made some comments which deserve noting. We discussed the lack of communication between the various movements which work for gay people and the people they are supposed to be for — namely, the majority of gay people. Denis commented that this was a problem which CHE felt as acutely as GLF, to which Graham said “No, the problem there is that it doesn’t exist! That’s why I spoke of GLF being a good thing, because — CHE? Nobody’s heard of it. Which was why GLF was so good in the beginning.” We also talked some more about Americans, and then about Australians, about whom Graham said “I have never been to bed with Germaine Greer. You can quote me – I think I could’ve, ‘cos I was going through a hetero stage at the time.”

D.L.: Do you think that people ever really meet each other inside the gay clubs and pubs? G.C.: Well, I certainly meet other people in gay clubs and pubs. I think casual contacts are Fine, and that’s one of the things about the homosexual world actually that is admirable. People can meet each other, and have a very quick fuck (or a very quick mutual masturbation or whatever), and nothing else bothers them. They’re quite happy, they’ve had sexual stimulation, and they don’t have to see one another ever again. But unfortunately some people are devoted totally to that kind of ’recreation’ better than football, I suppose but it’s a pity that so few of them get together and form a union based on some kind ol love which is more than just a sexual love.

Sex is a great way of meeting people, because you go to bed with someone, or have it off with them, you know something kind of intimate about them, and used properly, that is a very good way of getting to know someone and eventually to love them. And that’s the most important thing: being able to love someone. and for them to love you. For you to be able to be mutually dependent. Whether it’s one person or two people or more. I’m very deeply entrenched in the teachings of Christ (and Karl Marx, but basically the New Testament teachings of Christ) – that love is the single most important thing, and the most difficult to achieve; love for another person. Because we mostly love ourselves. I hope would always try and love someone else more than myself.. . but fuck knows, I can’t … at the moment. I don’t know how to. You’re not really loving yourself unless you love someone else, you’re destroying yourself. I’m sure that’s true.

Well-Known Loonie

D.L.: A lot of non-gay people pick on the point that gay people never have lasting relationships, that gay people are very flippant, and use this to back up the argument that homosexuals are immature.

G.C.: I think a lot of that is because they are jealous that gay people can have a quick wank in the bushes with someone else,or whatever. There’s no likelihood of a family arriving without notice – which I hope abortion laws and so on will get rid of from the point of view of women’s liberation. I notice it among my own friends – “Why is it that Graham, who’s been happily married to the same boy for seven years, can go off for a night occasionally with someone else, whereas I can’t, because I’ve got j a family”, and there’s a jealousy there, which is sometimes quite marked. Of course, the answer is that they can, if they’re honest with their wives and their families. I’ve a family, of a kind, of people who live with me. Mind you. I’m a well-known loonie, so it doesn’t really matter. I hope I’m a kind loonie, that’s all.

What that jealousy is based on is a fear of “But if I do this, then she will do that, in order to get back at me”. And that’s not love. That’s nothing to do with it. But, as I said earlier, it is tremendously difficult actually to love someone else. Bloody difficult. But that’s what we’ve all got to get round to.

It all comes back to stupid old Jesus Christ. He was a nice old bloke, really. I don’t like God. very much but I do like him. I’ve only read the doctored gospels, not the direct translations, but the truth still comes through. Incidentally, he never said anything about homosexuality, which is rather nice of him.

It got rather battered in the Old Testament. And by St. Paul afterwards. But St. Paul was a well-known loonie.

We then went on to talk about communication of ideas, theatre, humour, people “We must all realise we’re all shades of things, not necessarily just one thing or another, and if we are. then we’re dead. We’re a mixture of lot’s of subtle shades, and there’s no reason why we should become one thing or another for the rest of our lives.” And about where Graham was born — “Leicester — the most boring town in the world ”, and his time at Cambridge — “…one of the most childish places in the world.”

G.C.: Not long ago I went back to Cambridge to speak at the Union, specifically because it’s a place I abhor, where their up-and-coming politicians go to speak. I’ve always hated the place. So I went dressed as a carrot, in complete carrot costume, with a rather large thing hanging down between my legs, yellow tights – the only thing you could see was the front of my face. And when it was my turn to make a speech. I said nothing. Just stood there. Stood there and said nothing. And that was my comment on the whole bloody business of people standing up and debating, trying to be clever, and eventually becoming politicians – fucking mess, the’re a load of bloody idiots, and none of them have any social conscience.

I had to go on standing there beyond the point where it became embarrassing, in order for it to get embarrassing again. So I carried on standing there for a whole ten minutes, saying nothing. They laughed initially, be cause of the costume. They were all expecting some enormously witty remark to come out, apparently, to explain all this. But it didn’t Then they all started laughing again, thinking. “Good gracious! He’s gone on far too long. How witty. He’s going to come out with some tremendous line in a minute.” Well, I wasn’t going to stand there all night, so I lay down and rolled across the floor to Ivor Cutler -who had been sitting through the whole thing with his fingers in his ear, until I came on NOT to speak, when he listened intently – I rolled over to Ivor and hissed “Get me out of this. Ivor.” So he stood up and read out a poem, which nobody understood ( I didn’t). They were all totally bemused by what was going on. Then at least, I was able to go and sit down, in my carrot costume. It was a wierd evening. It really was.

By this time the alcohol had been flowing freely for some hours; and the rest of the tape of this interview is somewhat confused. There is not necessarily any connection between the above two statements.

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.