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

Come To The Cabaret

Looking and feeling not unlike the Kit Kat Club, the Rehearsal Club in Archer Street was the venue of CHE’s cabaret from February 19th to 22nd, presented in aid of “Friend”, CHE’s befriending and counselling service.

Starring Pepe Samper, Roger Baker, Gavin Clare, Cyril Weston and Howarth Penny, with Alan Leigh (Douglas Byng’s former accompanist) on the piano, the forty five minute show included an excerpt from the musical “Follies”, a sketch entitled “Doris the Goddess of Wind” (Life is just one blow through from morning to night), a song from Sandy Wilson’s Valmouth, and a sketch entitled “I Hate Men”, performed by Roger Baker. The show was directed by Marie Clifton.

Emitting a smokey, nostalgic atmosphere, the show seemed to be enjoyed.by the audience, predominantly made up of CHE members and their friends. It was indeed a very constructive effort to help raise the funds urgently required by “Friend” to carry on its work.

Gay Lib Newsettes

Hampstead Squat

LONDON: A new squat commune has been formed and is living at 44 Parkhill Road, Hampstead. At present occupied by seven people, there will eventually be fifteen to twenty people living there. They are appealing for help with plumbing, furniture, electrical work, bedding etc.

Come Together

LEEDS: Gay Liberation Front held its first national ‘come together’ for some time, over the weekend February 17th-18th in Leeds.

It was dominated by the Marxist elements, who decided to hold a further conference in Warwick two weeks hence. In addition, the next issue of ‘Come Together’ the GLF paper will be produced by provincial groups who have felt very out of things.

Edinburgh GLF in particular were disgruntled, feeling that no-one realised the difficulties of being gay in Scotland, where the 1967 act doesn’t apply, so it was decided that the next think-in to be held within two months, will take place in Edinburgh.

Gay News caused some heated discussion. While London GLF seemed to dislike the paper and made vague utterances about us holding shares and making money!!! the provincial groups were generally in favour of us. About 40% of the people present at the think-in were women, and they expressed disquiet at the lack of women’s content in the paper, and talked of creating their own publication.

During the latter half of the weekend, the think-in split into small groups, which discussed such subjects as transsexualism, gay marxism, child care and gay country communes.

New Gay Centre

LONDON: The former AgitProp Bookshop at 248 Bethnal Green Road, E2 will re-open on the first of March as “Bethnal Rouge”, run by a collective of gay men from London GLF. They will continue to stock the wide range of books and political literature sold by AgitProp and hope to expand the coverage of literature pertaining to womens’, gay and childrens’ liberation. They hope the shop will develop as a gay centre where homosexual men, women and children, will drop in to talk and have coffee.

Split To Expand

HAMPSHIRE: The once joint Campaign for Homosexual Equality group for Southampton and Bournemouth has expanded into two separate groups. They are now operating independently from each other.

Thee Bournemouth group meets monthly in Bournemouth. The Southampton group was formed a couple of months ago and now meets every Monday in Central Southampton with additional meetings, coffee evenings and parties at weekends. Members are of all ages and sexes and come from Salisbury, Andover, Winchester and Fareham. Recently they have had enquiries from potential members living on the Isle of Wight.

The Southampton group plans shortly to organise a befriending service for gay people in their area, ie, a South Coast FRIEND group. They also plan to do a programme for Radio Solent. Hopefully it will be similar to the very successful programme arranged and presented by London CHE on Radio London. There is also interest in the establishment of a Southampton National Council for Civil Liberties group. On a long term basis they have further plans to establish new CHE groups for Salisbury, Winchester and the Isle of Wight.

They have asked us to let gays in both Southampton and Bournemouth know that new members for either group will be welcome. If you live in the areas mentioned and would like further details, please write to the respective Chairmen of Southampton and Bournemouth c/o CHE National Headquarters, 28 Kennedy Street. Manchester M2 4BG.

GN would like to encourage other local and provincial groups of gay organisations to keep us informed of their activities and expansions.

Cheecyletions

The annual reorganisation of CHE’s National Executive Committee happened by a democratic election using the single transferable vote system. New members on the EC are Jackie Forster, Editor of Sappho magazine and familiar blockbuster at Speakers Corner; Denis Nadin who created CHE’s churches group, and Peter Naughton, chairman of CHE’s group in Enfield.

Four members sought re-election and those successful were Allan Horsefall, chairman of CHE (who captured the majority vote); Ted Clapham, a Baptist minister and Michael Stead who has done more for CHE than any other individual. Concern has been expressed in some quarters because Bernard Greaves, of Gay Cambridge, was not re-elected. It does seem a shame that Bernard’s political acumen, personal courage and hard work have passed unrecognised by the voting membership.

For the sake of the record, the other members of the EC are: Glenys Parry, Liz Stanley, Ike Cowan, Martin Stafford, Tony Ryde (Vice-Chairman) and Peter Norman.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

LONDON: Ray Connolly is certainly getting down to the ‘nitty gritty’ with the questions he has been asking showbiz celebrities in his featured interviews in the Saturday night editions of London’s Evening Standard.

On February 17 the enormously popular Radio One disc jockey Michael Pasternak, better known to liteners as Emperor Rosko, was asked the following question: “Had he ever had a homosexual experience?” To this Rosko honestly answered: “I went through it you know, I experimented and found it didn’t appeal to me and that was the end of it. I was about sixteen or seventeen.

Photograph: R.I.Poff
“I grew up surrounded by homosexuals in Hollywood so it was never a mystery to me. It was just a facet of life – the same as you run into a hundred things that you want to do before you die.”

It is of no consequence whether Rosko is gay or not. He says no, and that’s fair enough. What is important it seems to us at Gay News, is that someone who has to be very much aware of his public image, should be so explicit in his reply to what may have been an embarrassingly awkward question to some ‘stars’. Many would have undoubtedly avoided giving an honest answer.

Maybe there is a moral in this piece somewhere? Perhaps some of us could learn something from Rosko’s outspoken manner?

Who Rules The Waves?

A camp cruise or charabanc à la mer is the entertainment innovation from Tricky Dicky who pioneered gay discos all over the suburban wastelands of South and East London.

Gay News went on his latest boat trip which took place on the evening of Friday February 23rd, and despite extremely cold weather, the two-tier cruiser was filled to capacity when it moved off Westminster Pier at 8.30pm. Journeying westwards for eight miles or so, to Putney, and then east, back again past Westminster, to a point just short of Tower Bridge, and back to Westminster by 11.30pm.

Photograph: c/o Manus Sasonkin
The boat peopled by gays of more varied backgrounds and types than I have ever seen cohabiting in a small place before, really seemed to enjoy this novel trip, which cost £1. The boat was divided into two covered, heated tiers, the upper containing one of Tricky Dicky’s inimitable, ebullient discos, and the lower a bar lounge, where it was nice to see fast efficient bar staff and drinks at normal pub prices. For those who dared to risk the seemingly sub-zero temperature to catch a glimpse of their city in its best aura – from the river at night, there was ample outdoor accommodation as well.

FOOTNOTE: On arriving at Westminster Pier, the ‘gay sailors’ were welcomed back to dry land by the Metropolitan River police. There were no incidents; the amazed officers just cruised around in their launch. The timely arrival of the ‘water watchers’ was reminiscent of Chelsea Constabulary’s activities around closing time at the Coleherne, Earls Court.

Wanted ? News Reporter

Gay News urgently requires a man or woman to join the paper as its news editor. An experiences, reliable journalist, who is also able to master the intricacies of short-hand, is preferred, but enthusiasm and common sense count for a lot too. The ability to be able to write and type well is essential though.

Age, sex, colour etc are unimportant. Hours, wages etc by arrangement.

For further details telephone IMMEDIATELY either 01-737 0586 or 01-402 7805, or write to The Editors, Gay News, Basement 34d Redcliffe Square, London SW10, giving details of experience and examples of your past work.