Here We Are Again

The Gay News Collective has decided to change the format of our Editorial leaders. We all thought that the Editorial should be used in future for serious comments on events in the news relating to gayness and advancements and deteriorations in the present position of homosexuals in society. As the old format of the Editorial was mainly concerned with internal goings-on of the paper and the difficulties and successes we were experiencing, not forgetting our constant appeals for one thing or another, we realised that this would hinder the object of the new style editorial leader.

But we think it is extremely important to communicate to you the ‘life and times’ of Gay News, as we still stand firmly by what we first said in our earlier editions, that this paper belongs to the gay community and not to those who want to preach their own particular political beliefs or for the monetary ambitions of those producing GN. So to carry on keeping you in the know of what’s happening to us and the paper, we will now run this regular column called Here We Are Again. The reason we decided to call it that was because of the number of times that phrase appeared in past editorials. Yes, we know how our writing styles can be shocking but we’re trying to learn and improve. So, despite our sometimes obvious limitations, here we are again.

Christmas Issue

The Christmas issue, even if we say so ourselves, looks as if it will be as good as we had hoped. Definites for that edition to date are a Robin Maugham short story, a feature entitled The Garland Legend which is in keeping with the current nostalgia trend, an intimate interview with pop star Peter Straker, and a very special, hilariously funny, surprise scoop that we’re keeping a secret until the issue is out. Also there will be the ultimate gay game for four players, plus many other novelties and seasonal delights. And of course there will be the latest gay news and all the other regular features and review pages. GN’s size will be at least twenty pages for that issue but it will still only cost you 1Op.

Subscriptions for Gifts

To pay for all the extras of our enlarged Christmas issue, we will be trying very hard to sell as many copies as possible. It will be the only edition in December so we expect you all to buy one, and also copies for friends. It will be extremely naughty of you if you continue sharing one copy between six of you for this special issue.

In this issue you will notice that there is a special subscription form whereby you can take out a sub as a gift for a friend or loved one. And what could be a better present than ten or twenty issues of ‘big GN’. Seriously though, we know a lot of people still don’t get to see us, so why not help to unbiasedly inform them of what’s happening in the gay world. Subs are an important factor in our survival and continued existence, so why not treat yourself to mailed editions of GN for the coming new year even if you don’t feel we are a suitable gift for someone else.

Love and Kisses

We would like to thank all those people who had enough faith in us to renew their ten copy subscriptions. At least 95% of you did and we feel very flattered. This type of confidence in the paper is such an encouraging sign to us, and your continuing support of GN will make it possible for us to endeavour to always be improving and expanding and to eventually start some of the plans we would like to turn into reality. In case your sub is due to expire in the next few weeks, we advise you to renew it soon, as the usual Christmas postal chaos may cause delays. And you wouldn’t want to miss our Christmas special would you?

New Offices

We unfortunately still haven’t been able to find new offices. The present amount of working space is quite a problem and the only way of solving it is by finding larger premises. They must of course be available at a reasonable (cheap) rent. If any of you know of anywhere suitable, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The only major stipulation we need to insist upon is that the offices be situated in central London, ie Fleet Street. Those of you who have visited our present offices will know of the difficulties we are working under, so to you especially, help!

Word Machines

A magic word to use at the moment, which is guaranteed to get hunched shoulders straightening up at a rapid pace and interest beaming from our innocent faces, is ‘typewriter’. The two manual machines that are still operating are slowly giving up the ghost and no amount of coaxing and bribing with new ribbons or machine oil will help restore their lost youth and effectiveness.

Two others have sadly moved up to that great ‘typing pool in the sky’ and with the two we have left threatening to be reunited with them, typewriterwise we are in a sorry state.

After that convincing lead-in, now comes another famous GN appeal. If you have a typewriter you don’t use and would like to see it put to use, we will gladly guarantee that it will be over-worked. Also if any of you want to automate our surroundings, a gift or the paying of rent for an electric model(s) would mean loving smiles and very grateful thanks from all of us.

A Final Word

We have tried to cram as much of everything into this issue. The last one was so filled with news items we had very little room for featurettes and feedback. So we’re making up for it this time. Hope you find many things to your liking and taste. Take care of yourselves and enjoy your paper.

Your Paper And Gay Lib

Gay News is, as has been said many times in the paper, an unaffiliated, independent newspaper, that is open to all forms of opinions and comments. It is not a Gay Liberation Front paper, any more than it is a mouthpiece solely for Campaign for Homosexual Equality, or any of the other active gay organisations operative in Great Britain.

That most certainly does not mean though, that the ideas and aims, as well as reportage of the activities of these organisations, will not appear in our pages. They are welcome to submit copy to us which we will almost certainly print, the same as any other individual is more than welcome to express his/her viewpoints, whether through a letter, an article or by informing us of some news that is relevant to all gays

So we wonder why some members of London Gay Lib find it necessary to be so openly hostile by threatening to ‘take over’ Gay News if we do not print a letter of theirs. GN prints the majority of letters received, and the only time we reject readers/organisations communications is when we have a large number making exactly the same point, or when we can’t read the writing. Other reasons would be when we considered the letter to be racist, slanderous non-factual or unfairly offensive. We do not censor letters and whether the members of the editorial collective agree or disagree with what is being said is immaterial to whether they are reproduced. A quick look at the many letters we have printed in past issues would show that what we are saying is correct.

Why then the hostility from this small group of radicals? Is it because we are not a GLF paper? — for that we most certainly won’t ever be, as we will never be any other organisation’s publication. Is it because GN is critical of some London GLF activities and policies? – possibly, for up until the advent of Gay News no gay organisation received any serious criticism from gay people themselves. Does this mean to say that some London Gay Libbers are so right, so completely pure, that they don’t have to examine their motives, or consider the opinions of others, or even want to be bothered to attempt to communicate their ideas to others who haven’t reached the same advanced state of personal awareness as themselves.

The Gay News Office was invaded just after the publication of our first issue, by a GLF faction calling themselves Radical Feminists (we understand that they are now known as Radical Queens). They objected to us including an article critical of them in the issue we were preparing for publication. After screaming at us for an hour or so, they then disagreed amongst themselves, resulting in extreme boredom for us and a loss of valuable working time. They eventually trooped out, leaving us none the wiser to why they were above or afraid of criticism.

The only point of near communication that we were left to ponder was the slogan ‘Where’s your head at?’ which was frequently bellowed during the incident. This quaint phrase first came into use during the psychedelic boom of 1967, and was subsequently dropped from ‘hip’ language much the same time as ‘flower power’ died.

Does this new takeover threat mean that we will have to endure another hysterical screeching session, or maybe they will go farther and destroy our notes and intended copy, remove our files, damage our typewriters and light fittings and generally behave like a bunch of thugs from the National Front, as they did when invading the Time Out premises a year ago. You can rest assured that nothing more constructive will be coming from them, unless by some sort of miracle they manage to prepare an issue of the paper, which would surely be a one-sided, dogmatic rendering of their own exclusive cant.

The GN collective would of course never allow this to happen, as in the same way we will not allow any form of censorship, whether through intimidation or otherwise. Why can’t these people see that any articles they submit to us will take their place among all the other opinions and criticisms from other organisations.

Is it also necessary for GN street sellers to receive threats such as “What will you do if I rip up your papers?” as happens every so often. On more than one occasion, copies of GN have in fact been destroyed by agitated London Gay Libbers. What is the sense in this, for such action is on a par with book burning.

It is not intended by this piece to attack or even criticise the whole of the Gay Liberation Front movement. Many London members, despite ideological differences with Gay News, manage to maintain a civilised relationship with us, and also do much good and important work for the improvement of the lot of gays generally. Also relations with Gay Lib outside of London couldn’t be better, many of these groups, in fact, sell GN at their meetings and also in their surrounding areas. We have even received generous donations from one or two of these groups.

As we feel that no-one is exempt from constuctive criticism and we will never pander to pressure groups by withholding news, censoring our opinions and editorial comments, or allowing one faction or group to have more of a say or influence than another. The day we did allow this would be the time for us to quit publishing, for it would be betraying the trust people have in us, who rely upon our independent position to inform them factually, unbiasedly and without any preaching or politicising.

In a recent London GLF Diary (Nov 9-18) the embittered faction responsible for that edition suggested that people read such American Gay Lib publications as Gay Sunshine, Gay Liberator, Flaming Faggots as they would ‘prove more palatable than reading Gay News’. Apart from these papers only being available in limited numbers at a few bookshops, the writer(s) of the quoted piece completely fail to explain or communicate their reasons for such criticism. Possibly the truth and realities of matters and events nearer home are unpalatable. Possibly the vacuity of London Gay Lib during the last year is a matter they would rather sweep under the carpet.

We remain the only national fortnightly, independent gay newspaper in this country, and we mean to stay just that. No matter what threats we may recieve.

Gay News Editorial Collective

ED: The complete list of periodicals mentioned in the GLF Diary are as follows: The Body Politic, Lesbian Tide, Flaming Faggots, Gay Sunshine, Fuori and Gay Liberator. We would add to that list The Furies and The Advocate, America’s largest selling gay newspaper. Bookshops in London likely to have a few copies of these papers in stock are Housmans, Agitprop and Compendium.

Julian’s Column

Ooow dears, hasn’t it been cold lately? I’ve started wearing my gloves — knitted by an old dearly loved friend of mine called George — weeks before I usually do. I’ve been thinking of getting one of those hairy Afghan coats, in white, but they are a bit too much really. But as that lady says on the television, ‘Naughty, but I like it.’

Sorry to disappoint you all, but the Biograph has not got back to its usual form yet. By that I mean the films in future programmes are less than exciting. But at least the temperature there is fairly constant, know what I mean loves? For those though that are into men, as men are supposed to be according to Playboy and other mags full of nude ladies, Cliff ‘Sock it to me’ Robertson and William ‘Got it all here’ Holden show off their celluloid masculinity in Devil’s Brigade, which is the Sunday special on 3rd December. Support, for those who care, is Kill A Dragon (the Bio’s manager, Mr Wheelan, ought to watch this) and displays the talents of that sexy latin lover Fernando ‘Tango’ Lames and Jack ‘You can be in my film’ Palance.

That’s all about the Bio till next issue, so here’s a bit about my experiences during the last couple of weeks. And not the sort you lot think either.

I was at the Masquerade Club in Earl’s Court the other night and saw Mark Fleming performing. What a wicked lady she is. I’m glad I’m not a member of the Royal Family, I can do without the type of slagging she gives all the Queens, Duchesses and Princes. I noticed that she’s making a lot of cracks about the Bio. She apparently spends most of her time there in a cubicle in the ‘Ladies’. Wonder why, it must be rather lonely there.

I went up to the new gay bar the other evening. It’s the Green Room at The Wheatsheaf in Goldhawk Road. Mind you I wouldn’t like to live in Shepherds Bush, give me Brixton anytime. But I had a nice time there. I thought it would be a little quiet, but it was really busy. And lovely people too. The night I was there a few of those nice motorcycle boys were also sampling the delights. They must get cold in this weather, that leather just doesn’t look thick enough to keep them warm. The Green Room has a very pleasant atmosphere, and I love those palms. Reminds me of better days before everything went modern and flashy. In my day it was the people who were flashy. They might not have been as affluent, but they always had their flash. I keep on losing track, don’t I? The Green Room will certainly feel my presence again, and a few other times if they keep it as nice and friendly as it is now.

You won’t believe it but guess what I was sent in the post? A couple of introduction cards, one of which wanted me to ‘come as a stranger and leave as a friend’. The establishment where these goings-on happen is The Bristol Suite, ‘the club which is run entirely by the “City Girls”‘. You are supposed to ‘retreat to our intimate Bristol Lounge bar’, for whatever charms they have to offer during your discreet evening. The other card advertised the Burlesque of Berkeley Square. Here they offer you ‘lovely naughty burlesque spots every twenty minutes’, as well as ‘intimate seating’. They have a supply of ‘talkable danceable waitresses’ and are ‘all geared to the taste of the busy Executive who wants to loosen his collar after a day’s work’ and stiffen up a few other things no doubt. Fancy sending such details to me. Must be an error somewhere. In case their pleasures actually appeal to you, both establishments are situated at 14-16 Bruton Place, Berkeley Square, Mayfair W1. This is a line taken from the Burlesque card, ‘luxurious Louis XVI decor… yet casual ambience’. Somebody’s got a poetical dictionary.

Well all, love you and leave you. See you next issue. Julian’s Column will be there for you to grasp some interesting tit bits from. Wrap up warm and don’t trip over any extra large feet at the Bio.

Your Letters Continued

Bigoted Letters

London EC2

Dear Gay News,

May I be permitted space in reply to the bigoted letters of Michael Harth and J B Marr in GN10.

Both are concerned with what Michael refers to as ‘screaming queens’ and Mr Marr as ‘gyrating freaks’.

It is always my expectation that the victims of prejudice and irrationality will be capable of recognising such attitudes within themselves when they are confronted by ‘deviations’ that they find disturbing in other people. This expectation is frequently disappointed. As the film It Is Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse etc. puts it, gays who are, in general, put down by the society in which they live are often anxious to find others at whom they themselves can point the finger of scorn.

Of course, this is a phenomenon that applies not merely to gays, but is worldwide. The lighter-skinned black likes to feel superior to the darker-skinned; the Western Jew likes to feel superior to the Eastern Jew; the white-collar worker likes to feel superior to the tradesman or labourer, the pink-skinned ‘white’ likes to feel superior to those who have black, yellow or red skins; and so on … Oppressed and exploited himself, and very often not conscious of his own oppression, the superior person needs to compensate for his feelings of inferiority. The most obvious expression of this phenomenon is the dominant male/dependant female relationship.

Messrs Marr and Harth, to judge by their language, apparently believe that they themselves are acceptable to the society in which they live, and are afraid that they may lose their ‘respectability’ by being linked with their more obvious brothers. Both rationalise their fear and anger, Mr Marr by using emotive terms like ‘mincing’, ‘unwashed’ and ‘perverts’ to describe the objects of his abhorrance and suggesting that they are obsessed with sex, conveniently forgetting or not realising that the heterosexual world’s preoccupation with sex is so overwhelming that we hardly even notice it any longer – the mere fact that men wear trousers and women wear dresses is a display of sexual preoccupation (and differentiation) so enormous that we have come to take it for granted!

Michael Harth is able to rationalise his detestation by defining ‘us’ (that is, himself) as ‘true’ homosexuals and ‘them’ as pseudo-heterosexuals. How clever of Michael to be able to reach such a satisfactory conclusion when most of the people doing research in the field of homosexuality find the subject so complex that they feel unable to draw any conclusions, or, if they do, their conclusions are frequently at variance, one with the other!

What Michael and Mr Marr fail to understand is that the problem (if that is what it should be called) has nothing to do with the screaming queens but is entirely in their own heads. If some males of the human species prefer to dress and act differently from the manner in which your two correspondents think they ought to dress and act, that is not Michael’s or Mr Marr’s concern. Every human being has the right to choose his or her own way of life as long as it does no physical or mental harm to others. If other people choose to be offended, that is their option, but being offended is not the same as being hurt or victimised or brainwashed.

One small amendment to my remark about the ‘queen’s’ life-style not being Michael’s concern. Michael appears to be proud of belonging to CHE. But CHE is an organisation for all gays, and its specific aim is equality in society for all gays. If he wishes to exclude from CHE those gays whose way of life is not to his taste, then he has either to do some hard re-thinking or to resign from CHE. To that extent, the ‘screaming queens’ are his concern. I hope Michael will recollect the words of one of his favourite philosophers, Schopenhauer … “The truth was not found because … the intention was to find preconceived opinion …”

Love and peace,

L Collinson

Biased or Objective?

London

Dear Gay News,

I was sorry to see that your reporting of the Champion trial was so biased. As a defence witness I saw a number of things which your reporter failed to notice, for reasons best known to himself. For instance, the fuzz not merely grabbed someone’s camera but kicked members of the public downstairs, simply because some of them were objecting to the way the MacKenzie lawyer was being treated.

I also think that at a time when we should be fighting together, your reporter’s bitchy remarks about Peter Reed are unnecessary and useless. Whatever Peter did or did not do, I’m sure the reporter might have managed to remember to get hold of the testimony of the defence witnesses. I find it a rather poor excuse for his lack of reporting.

Incidents such as these embitter relations between GLF and Gay News; and it would be sad if what is otherwise a very good paper continued to print deliberately unfavourable reports about Gay Lib.

Yours,

Frank Honore

Vassall Supervision?

Bromley

Dear Gay News,

I read your item about William Vassall (GN10) with interest, but remain curious about one aspect that is not mentioned by you.

Since he had been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, in normal circumstances after allowing for good conduct remission of one third, he would have been discharged after twelve years. In view of every reports’ reference to his exemplary behaviour in prison, one can quite safely assume that this would have been the case. As he is released on parole I believe that he is subject to some form of supervision for the remainder of his original sentence — another eight years from now.

The authorities by releasing him two years earlier (ten years instead of twelve) have managed therefore to retain control of William Vassal for a further eight years from the date of his sentence. He would have been released in two years time, with no supervision for the following six years.

Can any of your readers let me know whether I have got my facts right?

All best wishes,

Michael