Gay Tried For Acid Murder

LONDON: A staff supervisor from Paddington wept in the dock as he was jailed for four years by a judge in the Old Bailey at the end of his trial for killing his former lover.

The prosecution’s case had been that Michael Dickinson, who was originally called Smith, murdered his lover, William Dickinson, and after stabbing him, poured acid over his body to disfigure it. The prosecution said William had been out with a sailor friend of Michael’s the night of the stabbing.

Mr Richard du Cann had appeared for the prosecution and had alleged that after Michael and William met last March they started to live together. But their relationship was stormy because William was bisexual.

Two doctors called by the defence said that Michael was mentally disturbed, and the jury found him guilty of manslaughter, and not of murder.

The judge told 36-year-old Michael: “You have taken away the life of a young man of 24. He was a person of not very good character and he behaved very badly towards you, but he was entitled to live.

“I have no doubt that all you wanted from him was a little bit of kindness and straightforward dealing and because you did not get those things you completely lost control of yourself.”

When the trial opened the Evening Standard ran a scandal-type headline as a page lead, and used seven-and-a-half inches of the prosecution’s case. During the rest of the week-long trial it reported not a word until the verdict.

Library Goes Gay

NEWCASTLE: The city’s library service is now subscribing to Gay News and putting it on display — but only at the central library, and only after the paper has been vetted by “a senior librarian”.

This follows Newcastle’s GLF’s repeated demands for the library to stock GN with all its other periodicals and newspapers.

At its city’s libraries group, Councillor Mrs Marion Abrahams said it would “corrupt children” if GN were put on display in an open room.

She said: “Young boys might get hold of it, and it would not be suitable for them.”

Councillor Edward Pugh, the group’s chairman, said: “We have to come to terms with a modern community. It may be a tragic age we are living in, but these are the facts of life.

“We are beginning to pull things out from under the carpet where they were brushed by the Victorians who refused to face them.”

ED: Thanks to Newcastle GLF for the type of guerilla action needed to get people like libraries to stock GN, which is, after all, a serious newspaper.

It’s this sort of repeated request that makes libraries and bookstore owners/managers realise that Gay News is a newspaper as valid as any other. If only more people would work as hard as Newcastle GLF on WH Smiths, John Menzies and Selfridges, all of whom have refused to handle GN, even though they won’t stock GN or wholesale it while carrying the usual newsagent’s rack of soft porn, to give in. This is the sort of way where a newspaper that is already used in sociology courses will be given the shelf-space we think it deserves.

BBC Opens Doors

LONDON: The BBC is to start a series of programmes open to minority groups, which means that gays should be able to get 40 minutes of air-time free to get their views across to the public.

The idea of the programme, provisionally called Open Door, is that any group that wants to put its opinions across can go along to a house in Hammersmith Grove and ask to be given space in the programme.

Producer Rowan Ayers, who used to run Line-Up, will arrange for ten minutes of film to be shot for the programme. The groups who take the opportunity of using television will have to pay no fee for the time, and they will be paid no fee for appearing on television.

The BBC says there will be no more censorship on the programmes. Whilst the Open Door series will not be open to individuals – only to groups – it will be screening the opinions of any group representing the opinions of anyone from GLF to Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford.

Rowan Ayers said: “I will try to ensure that a balance is kept over the 50 week series, and every four weeks we will give other groups and individuals the right of reply to the three previous programmes. The only bars are against advocating the breaking of a law or appealing for money.”

Insoluble Problems

Because of the technical troubles our printers experienced with issue 10, some copies are missing pages, and those that were complete had photographs that didn’t come up to GN’s and the printer’s usual standards. We’d like to apologise to any of our readers who found us less enjoyable because of these insoluble problems.

If you get a bummer send it back to Gay News, 19, London Street, London W2 1HL, and well see if we can’t replace it for you.

Porchester Balls

“I’m going to the Grand Ball at the Porchester Hall,” he said.

“Oh,” said I, being in the rag trade (ooh! you used that word), “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help!”

“OK,” says he. “I want to go, take me!”

Well, knowing this was no invitation in the literal sense, I agreed.

Thus, I found myself at the Porchester Hall, a delightful creature on each arm, wondering just what was in store for me at my first ever drag ball.

The foyer was a mass of seething humanity and inhumanity. Every shop within 20 miles radius must have sold right out of sequins and chiffon, although gold lame and feathers held their own (if you know what I mean); and, speaking as a fairly frequent visitor to the Coleherne, it was a pleasant change to see socks and hankies used to supplement a different part of the male anatomy. I never know by what criteria one should judge drag: does one look for originality, outrageousness, subtlety, femininity or what?

Jean Fredericks, the organiser of the ball whom one must credit as being something of an expert on this question told me he thinks of Drag as an art, the art of looking like a woman.

If this is the criterion we are to take, then the evening had its quota of dismal failures, and, to be scrupulously fair, also some stunning successes.

Jean himself, although no sylph as he would be the first to admit, succeeded in looking all woman in a series of fascinating gowns and wigs.

In a fair number of cases, the sex of the assembled company was pretty obvious; the five-o’clock shadow, the muscled arms, the protruding adam’s apple, and butch gait, were often dead give-aways. The outfits ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.

The themes for the evening were: The Virgin, The Witch and The Tart, and I felt it was a pity that more of the guests had not made an effort to fit into those categories rather than chasing that elusive quality, glamour.

However I did meet at least one interesting attempt at each class, the oh-so-lovely ‘Christine’ was the Virgin, floating in and frequently tripping over, clouds of pastel chiffon. She assured me that her left nostril was completely unsullied – unless you count the bird of paradise.

The Witch was a monument of personal endeavour having spent two months making an exquisite full-length creation in dark blue and green patterned Lurex, with a much befringed bust, sequin-coated shoes, and an imposing head dress. Come winter and the power cuts, his outfit, with the aid
the power cuts, his outfit, with the aid of a single candle has enough refracting power to illuminate a whole street.

The Tart was Big Sylvia, sporting that, by now, well-known stand-by, the simple little black dress, worn with pearls at her throat and in her hair. Her two main accessories were a feather boa, which to regular visitors to the now defunct “Your Father’s Moustache” must look very familiar, and piece de resistance, two very interesting sailors, Chris and Peter, who are welcome to dock at my place (I said dock) any time they like.

But for me. the most fascinating person at the ball was Freddie in a froth of white, originally designed, he told me, for the Great Waltz. Freddie is, in his own words, “no chicken” but he looked great. He’s always at the balls, so look out for him at the next one — (on December 6) he’s a real character.

There are many people I haven’t mentioned but shortage of space makes it inevitable, sorry, girls.

I made a point of chatting to as many “straights” as I could, including the staff at the hall, and there was a singular lack of criticism about the place, the people or the event, so it looks as if Jean and his team are doing a great public relations job for this facet of gay life. Keep it up, Jean, and may your balls get bigger every year.

Harrow Is Hard

HARROW: The Harrow area has one of the highest rates of convictions of gays of any courts of London, claimed a priest who runs a group that aims to integrate the gays and heterosexuals as a “social experiment”.

The Rev Keith Gilley, who’s the Unitarian minister of Golders Green was talking about what goes on at Golder’s Green’s Integroup group to the Harrow Humanist Society.

Reiernng to discrimination against gays he said Harrow had one of the highest rates of homosexual convictions of any part of London. “In the year up to last February there were about 200 convictions in Harrow for homosexual behaviour,” he said. “The person convicted usually receives heavy fines, and worse, a mention in the local newspaper.”

Mr Gilley condemned the police for using spy holes in two cottages in Harrow and added that policemen in “camp” clothing were put on duty outside cottages.

He said “Integroup is a society meeting to promote better understanding of human relationships, both within the group and among the general public, an even balance of men and women is maintained, although no-one is asked to state their preference.

“As far as we know, human sexuality has always been extremely variable. The situation at the moment is one of non-knowledge.”