Street Boy Conspiracy

At a Defence of Literature and the Arts Society meeting on 19 February, Mr Jeffrey Simmons, Managing Director of W H Allen and Co, the publishers, said he had just been told that conspiracy charges had been brought against the publisher of an autobiographical novel about a bisexual male prostitute, “Street Boy, Swinging London” by Richard Green, and that the publisher, Mr David John Miller had been kept in custody overnight at City Road Police Station before being charged.

According to the Guardian (20 and 21 Feb) Mr Miller visited the police station on 29 January after hearing that the Serious Crimes Squad had visited his offices. “The policemen were reading this book and said it was pornographic. I was then put in a stinking cell and was left there for 18 hours.” The next morning he was charged not only with offences against Section 2 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 but also with conspiring together with persons unknown to produce an obscene article. He was remanded on bail of £4,000.

The National Council for Civil Liberties has expressed alarm about the bringing of a conspiracy charge in these circumstances. Under Section 2 of the Act the only question at issue is whether the article is obscene in the opinion of the jury and motive is irrelevant. But with a common law conspiracy charge having been introduced, the prosecution could introduce evidence of the accused’s intentions and beliefs if they desired to do so.

The subject of the book may be significant, and Mr Simmons who has read it, thinks this is so, “the subject of male prostitution is obviously taboo” he commented. It is indeed notable that in both the recent major “conspiracy to corrupt public morals” trials – those of IT and OZ – the prosecution relied heavily upon the homosexual content of the material to bolster their case. Your reporter, who has also read the book, found it explicit in its sexual description but non-arousing (perusal failed to bring about a single erection) and moralistic in its tone – the “hero” is throughout anxiously careful to distinguish between those “healthy” mortals such as himself, who indulge in homosexual acts (whether for payment or not) for pleasure or out of a sense of comradeship without detracting from their heterosexual desires and performance, and the unfortunate “queers” who actually fall in love with other men and whom he despises for this. In spite of such an inadequate approach to the subject, it would be unfair to dismiss “Street Boy, Swinging London” as merely pornographic; it has a story line and contains some characterisation and descriptive passages which lift it out of the “mere smut” class. “A minor male Fanny Hill” would not be an unfair verdict.

In an excellent article in the current “New Law Journal” (22 Feb) a barrister, Mr Gordon H Scott, pertinently questions the efficacy or social usefulness of the current spate of obscenity prosecutions. It is high time, he says, that prosecutors and police stopped to ask themselves a series of questions before bringing such cases. These are:

(1) Is the prosecution necessary in the public interest?
(2) Has any substantial harm been done to an individual or to the public at large?
(3) Will the public be harmed if proceedings are not brought?
(4) What (if anything) will be achieved by commencing proceedings?
(5) Will the costs of this prosecution be out of all proportion to the offence?

It will be of interest to see how the authorities answer these questions with respect to “Street Boy, Swinging London”. Meanwhile Mr Miller has been charged and the Defence of Literature and the Arts Society is appealing for funds to support his defence. Contributions should be sent to DLAS, 18 Brewer Street, London W1.

Gay Political Storms

Private Life No Concern Of Council

Sam Green, the 32-year-old Liberal Councillor in Durham, who fought and won his election in spite of making the point that he was an active member of GLF, is under attack from the ruling Independent Party, and in fact has announced his decision not to fight the forthcoming county elections.

The cause of the uproar, a Granada TV ‘World In Action’ documentary featuring Sam in his triple role as psychiatric nurse, councillor and Gay Lib Activist, was to have included a face-to-face interview between Sam and his fellow councillors in the Durham City council chambers. Granada’s team have already interviewed Sam, but wanted to include comment on social attitudes to homosexuality from other council members.

However the general purposes committee banned the offending camera from Durham’s hallowed halls, and Sam was accused of using the programme to further his political career. Councillor Ron Stitt, spokesman for the Independent Party said: “I absolutely deplore this, I will discuss it openly but I will not allow the city council to be a little hub in a big wheel to expound councillors’ private lives. I consider what he does in his private life is his own concern and no business of the council.”

Oddly enough, Sam agreed that cameras should be kept out as a matter of overall policy but states: “I am not doing it for political gain, and to prove it I have decided not to stand in the forthcoming Durham County Council elections, in which I was a prospective Liberal candidate. I was making the programme to help other people. The Gay Liberation Movement is very important to me.”

The programme’s producer, Brian Blake commented that he was not disappointed, and that it would make no difference to the final programme, which could be screened any time within the next two months.

What Durham Does Today, New York….?

Although the Gays of the world can’t exactly be said to be united, at least there are signs that they’re beginning to think alike. And the thinking seems to be ‘If you can’t beat the establishment, join it and attack from the inside.’ In Durham, Sam Green has achieved fame as probably England’s only self-avowed homosexual Councillor, and now in New York John Owles, a former President of the Gay Activists’ Alliance is running on the Democratic ticket for a seat on the 43-member Council, New York’s legislative body.

This has only been made possible because of the political pressure which homosexual organisations in America have brought to bear on the ‘straight establishment’ and because of the changing attitudes towards gays which has been one of the benefits of the ‘permissive society’.

“I’m a candidate who happens to be gay and I’m seeking to bring gay people into the political process because oppression of gays can only be ended through political action.” he stated at a fund raising meeting. Other aims include removing all barriers to sexual acts betweeit consenting persons, and to end discrimination in all its insidious forms against homosexuals.

The usual arguments between moderates and activists within the Gay Movement then developed. The moderates’ objections to the fact that Osley’s supporters did not include any ‘straights’, that the problems of the poor, the drug addicts, and crime in the streets are more important that the gay issues were answered by the activists, who claimed that gay people suffered more than any minority within the city.

James Osley countered with the fact that he was just as concerned as any ‘straight’ with the quality of life in New York, and that he would stress many issues unconnected with homosexuals, and that he’d include the ‘straights’ in his campaign at a later date.

James admits that his chances of election are slender, even though his district, which includes Greenwich Village, is probably one of the most liberated and liberal in New York.

“But even if we should lose,” he said, “this campaign is going to be extremely important. Because we’re going to get a lot of people talking openly about what we stand for – civil rights for gay people. And that’s what counts.”

Judaism & Gayness

LONDON: Some years ago, Rabbi Dow Marmur of the North-Western reform Synagogue was asked to comment upon the Wolfenden Report. Seeking advice from a colleague, he was told, “What is there to say? It (homosexuality) doesn’t exist among Jews”. Rabbi Marmur saw little reason to doubt that the generally accepted figure of 5% of the population being homosexual applied equally to the Jewish community.

He was speaking to an attentive and crowded meeting of‘“Integroup” at Golders Green, which is a society of homosexual and heterosexual men and women meeting to promote integration and a better understanding of human relationships.

Rabbi Marmur traced the history of Jewish attitudes to homosexuality and the abhorrence with which it has been traditionally regarded. However, homosexuality was only one example of the inevitable tension between the individual and the orthodox tradition. In Judaism the collective interest had always come first. This did not mean that orthodox rabbis could not be – indeed no doubt they often were – compassionate when faced with homosexuality but what could they do in the face of the Law?

He regarded the task of religion as to make people whole. Persons came before principles; but how could the Law accommodate to this?

Despite the Law, he felt that Jews of all people should have a special feeling for and sympathy with persecuted or misunderstood minorities. Their history was such that it could be said that Jewish homosexuals stood in the same relation to Judaism, as Judaism stood in relation to the Gentile world. There were those present who doubted whether it was characteristic of minorities to tolerate other minorities; indeed often quite the contrary.

Rabbi Marmur expressed some dismay at the separatist tendencies of Jewish Gay Liberation, feeling very strongly that the congregation should not be divided. This provoked some debate. One member of the audience who said he was both gay and Jewish felt that the attitude of the synagogue had rendered it totally irrelevant to him. Another speaker felt that gay separatism might bring the Jewish establishment to its senses and encourage liberalisation.

Certainly there was plenty of lively discussion, leaving no doubt that this is a topic which needs airing openly and with understanding.

Integroup, Golders Green.

NEWSETTES

FRIEND Now in Seven Cities

LONDON: FRIEND,the homosexual counselling service now has branches in seven cities throughout the country. At the January conference, the sub-committee approved new branches in Brighton, Cambridge, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Cardiff. Plans for a Croydon branch are in hand and details will be available shortly. All FRIEND Branches are able to call on the specialist advice of professional consultants, and there is a befriending service extending over the whole of the UK. For further details contact 01-402 6345, Mondays to Fridays, between 7.30 and 9.30pm.

[Photograph: R.I.Poff]
Outspoken Reactionary Dies

EDINBURGH: Tubby, ultra reactionary. Councillor Kidd of Edinburgh has died of “exhaustion”. He was sixty four, and famous for his pronouncements on everything from fat bus conductors to filthy queers (GN5, 7 etc). He also had a particular dislike for strip clubs and go-go dancers, and once travelled to Glasgow to protest about the opening of a sex supermarket there.

He said “My big mouth is necessary if this country is to remain sane.”

Record Breaking Success

LONDON: The ‘Masked Valentine’s Disco’ held on Saturday 17th February at the Euston Tavern in Judd Street, was a record breaking success. The happy crowd of just over two hundred gay women and men, all intent on having a really great evening, surpassed all previous attendance figures for similar disco’s arranged in the past by Sappho.

Sappho are planning to hold a further social event in the near future. It will probably be called the ‘Queen Of The May’ disco. Sappho is the monthly gay women’s magazine edited by Jackie Forster, which also holds regular meetings at the Euston Tavern (see information page for details). All women are most welcome to attend these gatherings.

Brutal Cottage Murder

ELLESEMERE PORT: A middle aged photographer, Leonard Bestwick, who was stabbed through the heart with a butcher’s knife in a public lavatory and savagely beaten with a claw hammer, managed to run for 100 yards before collapsing and dying. A 16-year-old youth pleaded not guilty to the murder.

It was stated that the youth was the ringleader and that together with a 22-year-old friend known as Scotch Al, decided to rob someone, preferably homosexual, with violence; the idea being that he was less likely to report the crime. The case continues.

Clap Wrists, Here Comes Chelsea.

LONDON: Venereal diseases in Kensington and Chelsea are on the rise – 60 per cent in three years – and a massive campaign is being launched by that Borough aimed especially at the 15- to 30-year-old age groups. Posters, teach-ins, and stickers for phone kiosks will be used in an effort to stamp out VD.

Reason for the massive increases – 13,500 in 1971 – were blamed by the Royal Borough’s Medical Officer Of Health, Dr D J Sheerboom, to the number of “speudo-artists or drifters” living in the area. “We have reason to believe that due to artistic temperaments in the borough, there is a high emphasis in sexual activities. This has not been stressed enough in the past as a cause for these sexually transmitted diseases.” Two new VD clinics were opened in the area last November to cope with the dramatic increase in cases.

Why Gay Lib?

ABERDEEN: Gay lovers in this ‘granite city’ (an oil boom town nowadays) were given a St Valentine’s Day pick-me-up when Ian Dunn spoke about homosexual love and the law in the Students Union on February 14. 550 students and public crowded in to listen and take part in the debate, ‘Why Gay Lib?’ which was organised by the University’s Debating Society. The Chaplaincy, the Student Councelling Service, and the Police were sharply criticised for their negative attitudes towards Aberdeen’s estimated 8,000 gays. The SRC has passed a motion in support of gay people and will call upon the National Union of Students to prioritise a Gay Rights motion for the Exeter conference.

Cottagers Beware

Cottagers beware, you are being surveyed — not by the Metropolitan Police, or even the Metropolitan Opera – by the Council of British Ceramic Sanitaryware Manufacturers.

Squads of ladies and gentlemen are being sent to investigate public lavs of Britain. This was revealed when the council published a thirty page report of the public lavs at York racecourse, which have suffered grievous damage from users. “Peep holes have been made in doors and dividing walls… graffitti was extensive.”

So if you see a little man taking notes…

Black Box News Service, Glasgow