‘Queer’ Strikes Back At News Of The World

The following appeared in the News of the World, under the heading “John Field Column” on February 11th:-

Warn Them

There is one word in the English language calculated to get me blazing mad. It is spelt q-u-e-e-r-s.

Five of these creatures turned up at a Midlands school conference on sex. One addressed the pupils.

In heavens name, school children should be WARNED about homosexuals, not asked to LISTEN to them. Could the subject not have been dealt with by someone who was not himself a confessed homosexual?

I don’t believe that pansies are men who can’t help being odd and should be pitied. What they want is a lecture on self discipline.

Any strange men thinking of writing me cross letters need not bother. I shall burn them.

Sympathetic Stockist

Jim Harris, a friendly and sympathetic Gay News stockist, of Smiths Newsagents (no relation to W.H.) in Moscow Road, Bayswater was outraged on reading the article, and on Monday morning rang the News of the World, and told one of the women who wouldn’t put him through to John Field, “I’m one of the queer persons you talked about and I’m not stocking the News of the World any more.” Gay News will go on top of the counter. He was eventually put through to the editor who glibly agreed to pass on his complaint.

Two days later a member of the News of the World ‘Mafioso’ appeared and declared that if Jim Harris refused to sell his scandal sheet, they’d put a street seller outside the shop. “I understand my son. He reads Oz and Rolling Stone.” said the heavy. Jim’s response was, “You’re not allowed to peddle in the street without a licence.”

Jim says “The News of the World is a big drag. Gay Society is generally so indifferent – so often they say … ‘tut-tut – I’ll forget all about the issue at stake’. The prime reason for striking at the News of the World’s circulation now is to win the apathetic section around.” He suggests all Gay News readers stop buying the News of the World forthwith — they’d be the losers. There must be a million of us ready and waiting, and this is just the start of it – if we can really move it…

Is there such a person as John Field?

“He’s a bit elusive on Wednesdays,” say the News of the World. Jim Harris wants a public apology, or a chance for gays to answer back. “If I read an article defamatory to gays in anything I sell I’ll ban outright.”

Marion, Jim’s assistant says of the News of the World, “Filth, that’s all it is, their paper.”

Fun on the Phone

We telephoned News of the World, seeking to speak to John Field and after being shunted around several different extensions, which are probably all employed for that purpose, we got a promise that he’d ring us back, which was indeed fulfilled some ten minutes later. The conversation went thus:

News of the World: Hello, you wanted to speak to me?

Gay News: Yes, who is that?

NOW: I currently write the John Field Column.

GN: Oh, great – you’re John Field.

NOW: No.

GN: Oh, then who are you?

NOW: That’s none of your business. Tell me what you want to know and we’ll talk.

GN: Well, tell me your name and we’ll talk.

NOW: I see. Good afternoon, (they rang off.)

Eventually their Features Editor referred us to Phillip Wrack, (Tel: 01-353 3030 ext. 306) who admits to writing the John Field column on occasions and didn’t deny writing this one. He pointed out that the John Field column is not the leader and therefore needn’t reflect editorial policy for the News of the World, but declined to comment, as did the features editor, as to whether or not this particular column was a joint editorial decision.

He refused to discuss his views on “treatment of homosexuals” but suggested our caller might care to write to him.

“But your column states you’ll burn my letter,” we replied, to which he said, “That’s right.” He then asked which paper we represented and when told it was Gay News, said “Look, old boy, I really haven’t the time to discuss our affairs with the Gay Lib News or whatever you call yourselves. I can only suggest you write to us.” He declined to comment on the question of Jim Harris, and said, “Be careful what you write or we shall sue you for libel.”

We then spoke to the circulation manager who said, commenting on their heavy’s visit to Jim Harris’s shop: “We hope we shall get a fair crack of the whip. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want our circulation to drop two million overnight, and why are we being discriminated against when the other Sundays aren’t. We have no wish to use strong arm tactics unless it’s absolutely necessary because we don’t have any other means of persuasion. We hope we shall get a fair crack of the whip.”

We replied, “We shall be as fair to vour paper as you are to the homosexuals of Britain.”

Says a card in Jim Harris’s shop: “To know nothing is nothing at all – to imagine is everything.”

CHE Defies Morecambe – At A Cost

Preparations for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality’s first annual conference are now well underway. And it promoses to be a genuinely exciting and stimulating weekend. For one thing, it has been extremely well and thoroughly thought out — people started working on it more than six months ago. There will be the usual conference platforms — discussion of major papers (already available), talk-ins, brains trusts and, for the evenings, a heady social programme.

The background to the conference exposes a by-now familiar story of petty hypocrisy and back tracking. This time by Morecambe Corporation. Naturally, CHE half-expected a few rejection slips when letters were written to the well-known conference towns. But Morecambe made it clear that it was willing to have the conference there. “Should you decide to visit our resort you may be assured of our every assistance to make your conference a success”, said a letter to CHE last April. And in July the feeling was still good. “I am sure we can be helpful to you to make your conference a success, as we have the necessary facilities here,” gushed the Corporation.

But then, by September, the climate had changed. Suddenly CHE would not be welcome in Morecambe. The application had been rejected because “the conference would be split into small groups and we have not sufficient accommodation of this type” said the town’s Publicity Committee to the Morecambe Guardian. All this after a five-member delegation from CHE had visited the town and been shown the accommodation and conference facilities and agreed they were fine.

Curious mis-statements follow and the upshot was that CHE decided to hell with Morecambe Corporation. They would have the conference there anyway, but by negotiating directly with the owners of the pier to hire the facilities privately. Which means that CHE is footing a bill which the More-Combe Corporation would have met had any other organisation in the entire world sought the hospitality of this Lancashire seaside resort.

And so the Campaign for Homosexual Equality has been forced into a position of blatant inequality. But, instead of creeping away to find somewhere else, CHE is at least defying Morecambe Corporation – even though the gesture badly strains already heavily committed financial resources.

The conference itself will be the first truly national grassroots conference in the history of the Homophile movement. There have been other gay conferences, but small 5nes, consisting usually of authority figures who have, between them tended to decide what should be done for gays, not without experience and not without interest, but without consultation. At this conference, everyone has an equal voice.

The three main papers for discussion are: The law and the homosexual – which deals in considerable detail with this complex and often imperfectly understood area; the future of the homophile movement in Britain – which is certain to create some healthy disagreement; and a paper on gay life-style which asks a few questions that some people may find, perhaps, contentious.

Great emphasis will be placed on discussing the position of gay women regarding gay organisations – by women themselves, of course – and individual members and groups of CHE are already fielding some good motions for discussion.

The registration fee for the conference is 50p, even though the whole event will be more costly to CHE than it need be, and any members of CHE or the Scottish Minorities Group can attend. It is hoped that as many people as possible will make a special effort to go along to Morecambe. The dates are April 6-7-8.

Roger Baker, Press Officer
Campaign for Homosexual Equality

Springtime in Morecambe – it’s conference time! [Photograph: British Tourist Authority]

U S Army Corps ‘Undesirables’ Marry

U S A: Outraged Army officials at Fort Ord California have taken immediate action to discharge two teenage US Women’s Army Corps members who were married five weeks ago in San Fransisco by the Rev Ray Broshears of Gay Alliance. According to army regulations homosexuals must be discharged as ‘undesirables’, but 19-year-old Gail Bates and 18-year-old Valerie Randolph are fighting for a ‘general discharge’ that will leave no slur on their characters or hinder future job prospects.

An army spokesman states that the army has no choice and that homosexuals must be discharged as ‘undesirables’, but the San Fransisco Gay Alliance threaten a protest march if the charge goes through as planned.

Only Two Years

LONDON: A 22-year-old painter and decorator, John Cree, of no fixed address, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for the manslaughter of Kenneth Fairhurst, 46, of Stockwell, London, who died after being stabbed 22 times with a two-pronged carving-fork. Cree who was acquitted of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter, met Kenneth Fairhurst in a South London pub, and the following evening visited his flat. Cree told the police that he made the attack after three separate homosexual advances had been made: “I picked up a fork, it was the first thing that came to hand and I just kept stabbing him.”

Mr Justice Forbes commented: “The jury has found that you were provoked by this man whom you killed. But killing under circumstances of provocation is still a serious crime.”

ED. There will be an editorial comment on the extremely low sentence imposed in this case in the next edition of GN.