1972 Goes Out In Style for Gay News

LONDON: The editors and members of the editorial collective of Gay News disported themselves briefly in Shepherds Bush, to celebrate the end of the paper’s first half year of existence.

Not that the gays had it all their own way. Sandi Rutenberg, the GN typesetter brought along her South African boyfriend, and Richard Adams, Gay News’ art man brought along his wife.

The Christmas issue of Gay News was read by more people than have bought any other issue, as sales are up by about 1,000 — another reason for the editors to celebrate six months of publishing.

When Gay News first appeared it made British publishing history, as the first independent gay newsapper in the country. Since then it has picked up a design award and sales of about 10,000 – which results in a readership of 40,000 to 50,000, being the most widely read gay publication in the British Isles.

The Christmas party was held in the Green Room at the Wheatsheaf, Goldhawk Road, and, though it was a relatively sober affair, Hammersmith police and New Scotland Yard decreed that it should end at 1 am.

The bill was footed by friends of Gay News.

Doctors Stay Away

READING: Out of 90 doctors invited to a lecture on “Homosexuality and Doctors”, none turned up. But enough people did go along to make for a lively discussion on the medical profession’s treatment of gays.

The discussion’s leader was Dr Schlicht, a consultant psychiatrist, with two general practitioners.

It was generally agreed that homosexuality was not a medical condition to be treated by prescribing medicine. The doctor’s role was more that of a friend and adviser, helping homosexuals face their situation in an otherwise hostile society.

Some in the audience felt doctors should do more to change society’s hostility towards gays, but the doctors pointed out that they had limited time and resources and homosexuality was just one of several problems they dealt with. But, they said, facilities for homosexuals had much improved recently.

‘Policeman’ Black mails Aged Man

LIVERPOOL: A Birkenhead man posed as a policeman to blackmail a 73-year-old man from Wallesey, he told Liverpool Crown Court, where he was jailed for two years.

Noel Chapman, 36, pleaded guilty to four charges of demanding a total of £140 during July and August. Another man appeared with Chapman, but, because he pleaded not guilty, his case was put back for trial.

Judge Nance told Chapman “You repeatedly blackmailed an old man and induced him to part with money by pretending as a police officer that you would report his involvement in homosexual activities, of which there is no evidence whatsoever.

“You further set about staging a charade with another man, to get more money from him.”

Mr Glynmor Jones said Chapman had approached the 73-year-old man as he was leaving a public lavatory at Wallasey, accused him quite wrongly of being there for an ‘immoral’ purpose and threatened, as a police officer, to arrest him.

Chapman emphasised to the old man the publicity his arrest would attract and indicated that he would forget the whole thing for a fiver.

More demands for money were paid until August 24, when the victim found another note demanding money. He went to the police and arranged with them that he would pay over the blackmail cash in marked notes.

The old man handed the money to Chapman behind the library in Earlston Gardens, Wallasey. Police officers then arrested Chapman.

Librarian Says No

BATH: Despite requests from Bath’s Gay Awareness Group for Gay News to be stocked along with other newspapers and periodicals in the city’s library reading rooms, the Director of the Bath Municipal Libraries has refused to allow the paper to go on display, and he blames the re-organisation of local government, which is due to take place within the next year or so.

The libraries’ director also told BGAG that the libraries didn’t have enough notice-board space to take a Campaign for Homosexual Equality poster. He said the notice-boards were kept for official posters only.

But, having denied Bath’s gays any worthwhile publicity, he gave the impression of fairness by telling the group that it could fill in a registration form for the Directory of Local Societies, a card-index kept in the Reference Library. This, he said, would show “the time taken to complete the form will be amply rewarded by the publicity thus achieved.”

Something Old… Something New…

EDINBURGH: Nominations to the SMG Executive Committee for 1973 exactly matched the number of vacancies. For SMG, this was an encouraging start to their fourth year of existence.

In 1971, SMG introduced the 3-year retiral rule which impels elected Executive Members to retire automatically after three years of service to the cause. Standing for re-election this year are John Breslin, presently National Secretary, and Alan Dalziel who is the Exec’s minutesman. John’s voice is comfortingly familiar to the hundreds of telephone callers to the Glasgow Office over the past two years, – even his answering machine has a friendly shine! Alan has coped well with the often heated discussions (and semi-awareness-raising sessions) generated at the monthly Executive Committee meetings.

Old “stock” is soundly preserved in the shape of bearded Ian Dunn (SMG’s Chairman in 1972, and its first secretary in 1969), Danny Mullen (debonair and with a flawless taste for bow ties and red carnations and blue velvet trousers), Alastair (The Dish) Davidson who’s a speech and drama student, Jim Halcrow (solidly into the role of SMG Treasurer, and a true gem in our crown), blond-haired Paul Kennedy, permanent London representative on the National Federation of Homophile Organisations (did you see his letter in “The Listener” on 16th March raising the banner for gays’ contribution to the population explosion? Yes!) and finally Ian Hoy and Tony Bromley (who kept us on our toes).

New “blood” is represented by Mike Coulson (the powerhouse of SMG Edinburgh in 1972, best known for his law reform work, who hit Radio and Press headlines recently when the University of Edinburgh announced that a Teach-In on Homosexuality would be held on 8th March 1973), by Bruce Briggs (a former National Secretary – making a fresh bid for power? – who’s guided SMG Glasgow through a slowly growing year), by dark horse David (Dot) Miller recently relocated to Glasgow, who proved his salt as a local committee worker in his Edinburgh days. Nigel Butcher, the tall, dark-haired and dashing nominee from Glasgow is very much an unknown quantity (I mean in committee, dears!) but gave a sound account of himself at a recent Hustings Night in Edinburgh. Finally, Lionel Harrison – the fiscal lion of the SMG COBWEB Club in Edinburgh – brings the Executive Committee up to strength. If we can persuade him to use his considerable talents in music, he should have fun getting revenge on this potted biography by composing a new Enigma Variations.

Lets wish the team “orrabes”* for their work in Scotland during 1973.

* Glasgow dialect for “All the best”.

Swannsong

LONDON: The new chairman of the BBC’s board of governors is on record as being anti-permissive and anti-gay.

Sir Michael Swann has told the press that he intends to be neither “too permissive nor too authoritarian” in his new position of power of what is broadcast by the Beeb.

But in his past as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University, Sir Michael has shown what he means by not being “too permissive”.

In April 1972 he wrote to the chairman of the board of directors of Scottish International – a monthly arts and political commentary magazine supported by the Scottish Arts Council — to complain that the magazine had run a story about the warden of a students hostel who’d been sacked for being gay.

More recently, since being knighted in the Birthday Honours List, Sir Michael has been none too helpful to the Scottish Minorities’ Groups’ planned teach-in, to be held in March in Edinburgh.

He became incensed and wrote letters complaining about the “abusive letters” he’d received after the Glasgow Herald reported that the teach-in on homosexuality was to take place.

He was quick to point out that the teach-in, which is being organised by a university professor and students from the university was not an official university function. And to reinforce this he has taken steps to make sure that no university funds are spent on the teach-in by telling university committees that they may not regard the teach-in as official.

Therefore it does not exist as far as Sir Michael is concerned.

Irish Oppression

I sent the letter printed below to the Irish Times, The Dublin liberal daily. Needless to say it wasn’t published, although they happily publish letters detailing methods of deporting Ulster Protestants that would make General Amin quake. A similar letter was sent to the Belfast Telegraph, the Belfast liberal daily, and the same applies.

It is ironic since two of the Republic’s favourite sons were homosexual – Oscar Wilde and Roger Casement, though if you publicly believe that the patriot Casement was gay and his ‘black diaries’ true, you’d get short shrift from today’s patriots.

Ironically it was a former Ulster Unionist MP, Montgomery Hyde, who wrote “The Other Love” of which GN published an extract recently.

Remember in Ireland homosexuals must be political because the laws are vicious.

Trevor

Belfast.

Dear Sir,

Those concerned with civil liberties should be made aware of the peculiar situation facing homosexuals in N. Ireland. Though governed by Mr Whitelaw and sole legislative control being exercised in Westminster, the unchanged N. Ireland law is still in operation. Thus we have the peculiar situation where a Westminster MP is liable to life imprisonment in N. Ireland for an act that is perfectly permissible in London!

The Unionist party in their role of supervising institutionalised inequality were incapable of removing such penal iniquity, even five years after the reform in England.

Not surprisingly they were ably supported in mutual silence by all the nationalist groupings. One might think that such grotesque inequality between Britain and N. Ireland would have galvanised an organisation like the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA). But NICRA said and did nothing, its credence as a genuine civil rights organisation being further eroded. An undefined term of internment and life imprisonment are remarkably similar and equally worthy of denunciation when those living in Britain are liable to neither.

The Ministry of Community Relations ought to give the Belfast homosexual community some token of gratitude for the uncompromisingly non-sectarianism it has displayed in the last three years. Not only has it remained united but it has also had the capacity to unite elements of the majority Catholic and Protestant community, albeit in common antagonism!

I recognise that changing laws does not change society, but in this case it is a vital first step. No organisations for self-help or external re-education can emerge while potential members remain liable to such harsh penalties. And only when that happens will it be possible to integrate homosexuals into society and erase the negative and self-destructive features of their behaviour.

It goes without saying that the same laws apply in Southern Ireland. As letters such as this are seldom if ever published, the matter may still be an unsubject, fit only for medical journals. If it is permissible to discuss the issue let us not hear the woeful cries of those who legislate by sloth, that there is no demand for such changes or worse still, that many homosexuals approve of the present law. It is an interesting coincidence that the homosexual minority is something on a par in numbers with the Protestant community. Where a lot has been written of the relatively minor legal discrimination they suffer, nothing has been written of the social and legal position of homosexuals.

Hopefully, Republican homosexuals will not be forced into some kind of reform queue behind Protestants, women, emigrants, etc. Instead a co-operative effort needs to be undertaken of all those minority groupings in society who are pushed around – to overcome the intransigence of a few and the ignorance of most. Otherwise individual freedom becomes a market commodity, traded in by church and state and political lobby. Back in N. Ireland where reform is largely there for the asking, a wise campaign exposing the anomalies in the law is immediately required.

Trevor McAville

Goodbye Agitprop

LONDON: Agitprop, East London’s leading alternative bookshop is to close on February 5.

Agitprop, run by a collective from a store in Bethnal Green Road, broadened its interests to include being an information service and the home of many East London alternative groups – such as the East London GLF. It has to close because the members of the collective find it impossible to carry on.

Andy and Pauline Conroy are faced with charges of conspiracy to get guns. Ruth and Harris are being hassled over their visas. Under these pressures, they say, they can’t plan for the future.

The Agitprop collective says: “We each feel the need to change in different ways, we feel we must end our involvement in the projects occurring here and help others in the libertarian movement.”

ED: With agitprop closing the laternative loses its major beach-head in the East of London. We would thank Agitprop for being friendly and honest dealers. Without the setup it would be more difficult to start anything new, like Gay News, and we would thank them for their help in giving us information, and acting as a very friendly outlet.

Jewish Press Lashes Gays

LONDON: November’s national think-in held by the Jewish Homosexual Liaison Group has got Orthodox Jewry in Britain hot under the tight white collar of its Saturday-best.

To begin with, the Jewish Chronicle – the national newspaper for British Jews – refused to carry any ads for the think-in because homosexuality doesn’t exist according to the Torah, the ancient set of laws governing Orthodox Jewish beliefs. The Torah goes as far as saying that homosexuals should be killed.

Then the paper decided to carry a report on the think-in held by people it had already said didn’t exist. It was an unbiased piece written by a freelance reporter who stressed what was said by Dr Wendy Greengross and Antony Gray.

This report was duly savaged by a Birmingham doctor, one Dr Gerald Jacobs, of 148 Penshore Road, whose letter was headed “The Sin of Homosexualism”. In it Dr Jacobs said: “What a charade! I had to re-read the report of Dr Wendy Greengross’ address to homosexuals.

“Has she not heard of the absolute condemnation of homosexualism by our holy Torah? … I am disgusted that the report of these abnormals is in fact given the credence to warrant valuable space in your columns. If Dr Greengross is so inclined, by all means organise these sexual malcontents for the purposes of treatment … But to normal heterosexuals the whole subject nauseates.”

But not all the readers of the Jewish Chronicle subscribe to Dr Jacob’s views. He came in for some attack from Samuel Litvin of London and Penelope Goodwin of Southampton.

Mr Litvin said Dr Jacobs should live and let live. Ms Goodwin said: “The ‘divine’ Torah was compiled many thousands of years before full comprehension of homosexuality; it may be indicative of the bigoted attitude of Jewish men that it has taken a Jewish woman, Dr Wendy Greengross, to bring the matter forth into the light of day, instead of leaving it to continue in the stinking dark decay of abysmal ignorance as shown by Dr Jacobs.”

First National Friend Conference

FRIEND, CHE’s counselling and advisory service, is holding its first national conference on Saturday 13th January. The conference is intended primarily as a forum for FRIEND group organisers and their counsellors who will be coming from all over the country. Items on the agenda include planning for the future expansion of the national network of FRIEND and working with voluntary and statutory agencies.

In the evening there will be a party at CENTRE, FRIEND’s national headquarters, from 8-12 pm, open to all. A room has been booked adjoining the dance nail to enable people to talk and socialise without being blasted by the music.

Tickets cost 50p (proceeds to FRIEND) and are available now from FRIEND CENTRE, BROADLEY TERRACE, LONDON NW1, or can be bought on the night of the party.

NOTE: CENTRE is not licenced, so if you want to drink – PLEASE BRING A BOTTLE!