◉ Public School Meets Gays

BRISTOL: Bristol Gay Awareness took its message to Clifton College, Bristol, recently. After a showing of the Gay Liberation Front movie Come Together, everyone divided up into discussion groups.

Members of the Bristol group felt that the evening was very successful in that they were able to put over the problems faced by gays in society to an understanding audience.

Perhaps other public schools and the gay groups near them, should do the same.

◉ Teacher Cleared

PRESTON: At the Crown Court here a former Southport teacher was found not guilty of ‘indecently assaulting’ a 15-year-old boy pupil.

The judge directed the jury to clear Peter, who now lives in York, of the charge. Peter denied the charge.

◉ Reading Students Back Gays

READING: Students at the university here have passed a motion declaring their support for moves to have gays’ rights discussed at the next conference of the National Union of Students.

This makes the third time that students have tried to get the NUS to take a stand on gay rights. The Reading motion was proposed by Goff Sargent, of Reading Gay Alliance, who was interviewed about this by the Reading Evening Post.

Goff said the NUS represented 24,000 gay students who were isolated and met with discrimination.

He told the Evening Post: ‘“Under the 1967 Sexual Offences Act the age of consent is 21. For heterosexuals it’s 16.

“There should be no discrimination between the ages of consent.”’

He said being gay was like being black.

‘“White people never understand what it is like to be black.” ’

The next NUS conference is on February 24 and students want to hear discussed the need for counselling and befriending gays, the provision of social facilities for gays and the creation of sexual equality. “It is no longer a clandestine activity,” Goff said.

RGA, which started as a student gay group, is now a town-and-university group. There are now more town members than university members.

What problems do Reading’s gays face? Goff said: “There is no great problem of harrassment as they have in London, but there is a general air of hostility, which means that many homosexuals are isolated. It’s the usual syndrome where he can’t mention it to his best friends and parents.”

◉ A Wilder Wiltshire

CHIPPENHAM: A group of gay people is forming in this Wiltshire market town. Initial Contact: Bob Illingsworth, Phone Box (Somerset) 2881. – BGAG.

◉ Stage Bans Gay Ads

LONDON: The Stage, the theatrical newspaper, has refused to carry a travel firm’s advertisement on the grounds that the ads refer specifically to gays.

When Gay News asked The Stage for an explanation, a spokesman for the paper said: “I’m not allowed to comment on this. But we’ve had so many veiled references, you know, that we’ve just had to start cracking down.”

We’ll report further when the managing director explains the Stage’s position of sexual discrimination in its advertisements.

◉ Dilly Goes On Record

LONDON: The Save Piccadilly campaign is giving away a 45 rpm record as part of its propaganda blitz to try to get the Greater London Council to shelve plans which will wipe out humans from London’s largest tourist attraction and gay-cruising spot.

Both sides of the record are written by Mike Klein (music) and Alan Wakeman words). The record, performed by Everyone Involved, a community rock group, is being given away.

If anyone wants a copy of The Circus Keeps On Turning/Motor Car Madness, all they have to do is to go along to The Almost Free Theatre, Rupert Street, London W1 and ask.

Nigel Stewart, Gillian Dickinson, James Asher, Mike Klein and Richard Oscar Lanchester, who make up Everyone Involved, made the record for nothing as their contribution to the Save Piccadilly Campaign.

Co-writer Alan Wakeman was partly responsible for the GLF-supporting record ‘Come Together’ which was given away last year.

About 2,500 copies of the Save Piccadilly record have been pressed.

◉ Northern CHE Gays Evade Subs Payment

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool CHE group has found that less than one-fifth of its 170 members have paid the additional local subscription of £1 over their subscriptions they pay to belong to CHE nationally.

The local sub, the latest Liverpool newsletter says, is to entitle members to go to the group’s meetings at the Archway Club.

Membership of the Archway Club does not entitle people to attend the CHE meetings held there. The club is a new meeting place for the group which finds that some members are put off coming to meetings because they are now held in a gay club

But, the newsletter says, ‘trust us; the Archway is a relaxing, pleasant, safe place to be and especially on our own nights, is reserved exclusively for CHE. And being a club means that you can unwind before the meeting with a drink, and stay on afterwards for a chat or a dance – until 2 am if you wish.’

The group has also negotiated with the club’s management to get cut-price membership of the club for its members. Liverpool CHE members who show their cards can now join the Archway club for £1.50, rather than the standard £2.00 club membership fee.

◉ York Honours Sir John
Photograph: R.I.P. Off

YORK: The university here has granted an honorary degree to Sir John Wolfenden, chairman of the committee which produced the then-daring report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution.

Sir John, director of the British Museum, is a former vice-chancellor of Reading University.

His committee’s report did much to lower the temperature of opinion against gays in Britain, and thus made the 1967 Sexual Offences Act possible.

The committee was the first serious attempt to study the problems gays face and, whilst its findings may appear dated now, it was seen in its time as a great step forward.

◉ Thanks … But

LONDON: Gay News’ news section depends, to a large extent, on information sent in by local groups. If there’s a heavy bias towards a few groups, it’s because we get information from them, and therefore know what’s happening around Britain. Meanwhile thanks to Bath Gay Awareness, Leeds Gay Lib, Chilterns CHE, Liverpool CHE and Reading Gay Alliance for their newsletters/bulletins/ arrows etc.

If we don’t mention what you’ve been doing, it’s because you haven’t told us. Just type it – double spaced, please – and mail it to the News Deskette at Gay News, address is still 19 London Street, London W2 for now.

Victory In The West

BRISTOL: Gay author and playwright Jean Genet has given his permission for the first British production of his play The Screens, which deals with the Algerian war of Independence – in Bristol.

When it opened in Paris, it caused considerable political mayhem, as the scars caused by the loss of Genet’s native France losing its last and favourite colony had not yet healed.

Since then it has been staged in New York, but it has never been performed in this country. So winning the first performance rights is a considerable victory for the provincial theatre.

No Harm Suffered

BRISTOL: Parents at a Bristol school rallied to help a teacher who appeared in court charged with ‘indecently assaulting’ six boys aged between 11 and 14 — one of them more than 20 times.

John, a young teacher in the city was charged with six indecent assaults and pleaded guilty to all of them. The magistrates who heard the case conditionally discharged him and ordered him to pay £20 costs.

The prosecuting solicitor, Mr Maurice Sparks, said that John, who is now, of course, out of work, had assaulted the boys over a period of months.

He said: “It is right for me to say that from the voluminous statements in the case it is not revealed that any of the boys regarded this with any gravity, and it is unlikely that any of them suffered any harm.”

John’s solicitor, Mr Patrick Butler, pointed out that the offences John was charged with were minor sexual assaults.

“A number of parents at his school had expressed sympathy with him and concern about his future career.”

Mr Butler added: “In these offences there was a complete and utter absence of motive or desire, and nothing like it will ever happen again.”

The court was never told about the boy who allowed John to “assault” him more than 20 times.