Your Letters

Please note that any letters received by us at Gay news are liable to be published unless you state otherwise.

Abdication of Responsibility

Cheltenham

Dear Collective,

Those of us who can’t really afford a donation can perhaps best answer your appeal for funds by renewing their subscriptions in advance of its due date (as I do herewith). Your proposed republication of The Queen’s Vernacular has given me renewed confidence and interest in you. I was beginning to have my doubts! It has struck me recently that you were failing to live up to your title or your raison d’etre, even in provincial solitude I was aware of items of gay news which I’d have expected you to comment on. May I give you an example?

One of the Sundays recently reported a rumour that the government has relaxed the stringent regulations against sexual deviancy amongst members of the security services. If true, this is an extremely important advance in the campaign that you are supposed to be waging, and one that will make an immense difference to the welfare of a great many people. I’d have expected you to be on to this like a shot, to use every effort to get it confirmed or denied, and to have published at once the result of your investigations.

I myself worked for some years in one of the government organisations to which these regulations apply. Over the years I watched people I knew or felt to be homosexual gradually dwindle into hypocritical tomb-faced prigs, through their willing subservience to a code of behaviour which their own natures recognised as unjust. One of them, after many years of unhappy solitude, finally met and set up house with a well-known local actor. Very shortly afterwards he was dismissed at a day’s notice: after some fifteen years of service, he was stood down on full pay and subsequently transferred to the Post Office. It was all right you see, for him to restrict himself to furtive and unsatisfactory pleasures; he only became a threat to national security when he had the courage to make his homosexuality overt by establishing a happy, loving and stable relationship with another man. He had a nice sense of irony, so no doubt he appreciated to the full the hypocrisy of his treatment

Well, now you know the sort of personal implications that these regulations have hitherto entailed, and why any relaxation of them would be of great interest. For one thing, it would make nonsense of your editorial in No 15: it would imply that public opinion no longer regards homosexuality as something culpable, so that nobody would have reason to prefer blackmail to the threat of disclosure, and that the government has at last acknowledged this improvement in public attitudes.

So to sit back and moan that ‘to us it seems that nothing has changed since 1916’, seems rather an abdication of your responsibilities as ‘Europe’s Biggest, etc. Newspaper’! You are merely fortifying the ghetto mentality that you profess to deplore.

David Blount

ED: Sure, Pendennis in The Observer ran the story on January 20. But then, so did Gay News in Issue 14 – under the headline Equality for Gay Cops – and that appeared a full fortnight before Pendennis ran his story.

Don’t Be Shy

67 Vere Road,
Brighton

Dear Friends,

Glad to see libraries being mentioned in Gay News. I was intending to wait and hear other views before writing, but a few points have arisen in letters from Stuart Woollard and Geoffrey Leight in GN16.

LIBRARIANS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE is a magazine for radical librarians which I started at the end of last year, around which is forming a group of like minded people interested in information and library work. Stuart Woollard is very welcome to start a gay group within LFSC, alongside the other area and “subject” groups being formed.

I’m involved in the coming together of the alternative library in several ways. Firstly, I’m looking after the library of the UNDERGROUND PRESS SYNDICATE (Europe). Secondly I’m involved in the project of microfilm alternative publications, which is being undertaken by the Harvester Press of Brighton. LFSC is not actually involved in the microfilming, though I and several other members are working on assembling back issues for filming and indexing (would anyone like to index GAY NEWS and the other gay papers?)

I’m working on the second issue of LFSC at the moment, and will be including a round up of views on gay papers and books in libraries. Public libraries (and university and college libraries for that matter), will only stock papers such as Gay News if enough people ask for them. Don’t be shy, libraries are there to serve you, not to dictate your reading habits. Nuff said…?

John Noyce
Editor, LIBRARIANS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

Here to Stay

Manchester

Dear Gay News,

No greater tribute could be paid to Gay News than the increasingly prevalent practice of other gay publications to reprint the information on the gay scene given in your pages. Where they copy you, they are fine. Where they don’t, they produce an array of misinformation, ancient history and unintentional comedy.

No names; it would be cruel. One of them recently gave CHE’s national address as a British Monomark box number, although the Kennedy Street office has been running for nearly two years. Another listed the Club 43 in Manchester as still operative, even though it was closed in September 1970 under the amazingly stupid Manchester bylaw of 1896 which was held to preclude male dancing. The same magazine listed as gay a variety of other non-existent streets and misnamed establishments, in some of which the dominance of heterosexuality is truly frightening. And quite stifling.

Has Gay News anything to fear from its rivals? Don’t be funny. The glossy magazines may print a few more photographs of bare bums and tired organs and congratulate the legal authorities rather more often than Gay News is prone to do (a curious contradiction). But, as the best thing ever to happen to the homophile movement in Britain, Gay News is here to stay. It MUST.

Barrie A. Kenyon

Desperate To Share

Cardiff

Dear Friends.

I am a former patient from Broadmoor and I am gay. Since leaving there I have been hard pressed to lead a happy life, because of being in Broadmoor very few people want to take me seriously. I travel around a lot and find things to occupy myself. I desperately need to find someone who would come and share my life with me. I am very lonely all the time and am always afraid that I could get desperate or bitter and do something rash or silly.

I know I do not deserve any special attention and if you ignore me I shall not mind too much, for this has become my chief problem. I would like to meet someone who is understanding and willing to be loved in my own fashion, who is kind, but not in the wrong way. I enjoy so many good things, but find I have no-one to share them with. I have been into a lot of strange scenes and lean towards adventurous gay things. I do so because I need things to occupy my mind, to keep my senses alert and I love exploring and finding things out.

… I do not know what response my letter will bring for I have no private fortune, only a modest income and so many hopes for a future that sometimes seems impossibly remote. I am sorry to have troubled you with my cares, as though I were the only troubled gay person in the world, but I have no friends and too many acquaintances. If you can, will you help me? Merely writing to you has been something.

G G

ED: We’ll forward any letters to G G.

Judged By My Peers

London SW8

Dear Gay News,

It is interesting to see that the old problem is being discussed again: I mean the rights and wrongs of sex-without-love versus sex-with-love. But surely there is no ‘versus’ about it. These things are not opposed to each other; they are the extremes of the same pendulum.

So for example you start by feeling sick with boredom, because your life has no sex in it. So you pick up a chap in the street and have sex. Afterwards you think ‘How awful; never again’. So you swing to the other extreme of the pendulum and you fall in love with another chap and you think, ‘How marvellous’, and then you discover that he wants to love you without sex. And you still think ‘How marvellous’, until you discover that he’s having sex with someone else. So you cry your eyes out, against the wall, because your heart’s broken. And you have a nervous breakdown. And then you recover. And then you start feeling sick with boredom because your life has no sex in it. So you pick up a chap in the street…

And if a policeman walks by, and says, all sardonic. ‘Hullo, hullo, hullo, and may I ask how long this has been going on?’ you can say, politely, ‘you may well ask, officer. It’s been going on for about 7,000 years. Ever since urban civilisation began.’

During these 7,000 years, have any changes taken place? Really the big change has taken place quite recently. The change is that we don’t feel guilty any more. If somebody breaks your heart, you have to bear the pain. But at least you don’t have to bear the pain of guilt as well.

Today, as a matter of fact, the guilt lies on the other side. The guilt lies with Lord Longford and Lord Hailsham and people like that.

How fortunate for you, my lords, that God does not exist. Because, if he existed, do you know what would happen? He would call you up on Judgement Day. He would say to you. ‘Come here Lord Longford. Come her Lord Hailsham. I was hungry and you fed me not. I was thirsty and you gave me not to drink. I was in prison arid you visited me not. I was homosexual and I loved you, and you called my love ‘vice’. Depart from me ye cursed, into the lake of eternal fire, which has been prepared for you from the beginning of the world…”

Terrible words, my lords. Think them over when you go to pray. And while you are at your prayers, ask God to give you the grace to realise that there is more virtue in a decent homosexual boy’s finger than God can find in your Christian pretensions. More virtue, more courage, more humility, more generosity and more gentleness and more ordinary common-or-garden human love.

Where is vice? Where is viciousness? Who are your murderers? Heterosexuals. Who are your rapists? Heterosexuals. Who are your Hell’s Angels and your muggers? Heterosexuals. Who are your robbers, your bank raiders, your men of violence, aggression and hatred? Heterosexuals all. And the only thing you can do is raise your sanctimonious eyes to heaven and talk about homosexual ‘vice’.

Why? Can it be because, in your warped opinions, no crime is so great as the ‘crime’ of homosexual love?

True viciousness is formed among heterosexuals. Homosexuals, on the whole, are a gentler, sweeter sort. That is the truth my lords. And at the bottom of your cold hearts you know it.

Dai Grove

Strength to Strength

London W6

Dear Gay News.

I’ve been reading Gay News for a few months now and it goes from strength to strength. It’s a pleasure to see each new issue coming out. knowing there’s going to be over an hour’s good reading. I am especially interested in your reports of continental gay activists, especially as we’re in the Common Market!

Could you have a regular column every week. I believe our French friends are having a far from easy time at the moment. Let’s have more contributions from your readers. You could throw some light on the provincial scene; what it’s like being gay in the Scilly Isles for example! Also the situation in Shepherds Bush, Chelsea etc, and what’s happening in Brixton vis a vis our black brothers. We all read how terrible the percentage of young blacks leaving school is. How is a black gay treated by his school mates etc?

Gay News: Let’s see more and more articles from people of all political shades. Let’s see your circulation mount and mount. Let’s hope you can keep your gay ads, because all in all Gay News is rapidly becoming indispensable.

Philip Van Grondelle

ED: Get writing folks.

Honestly Gay

London NW11

Dear Gay News,

The Fellowship of Christ the Liberator (issue 16) may be good for some gay Christians, but it would be far better if they were active members of community churches — not hiding their sexual identity, not being blatantly “chip on the shoulder” but just being honestly gay.

Most priests and ministers welcome the gay, as well as the straight into their churches. If you find one who does not, move on. There are plenty more. By integrating and educating it will be seen by other church goers that gays are good.

Dudley


Spinning Wheel Mead
Harlow  Essex

Dear Gay News,

Congratulations on Your wonderful paper. I especially like the cover picture. Please let’s have more ‘get together’ pictures.

Is there any chance of becoming larger or even a weekly in the future?

Love, Fortune and Success to you all,

Alan Stoner

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]

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.

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.

An Open Letter to the Company of Nine – CHE’s poetry Group

The background to this letter (published below) is as follows. CHE’s successful poetry group, called The Company Of Nine, is producing a volume of its members’ poetry. 30 contributors submitted 104 poems from which 33 were selected, including two by Laurence Collinson. Laurence later received a note from the editor of the volume asking whether Laurence wished to publish under a pseudonym. “So far I have assumed that as this is to be an avowedly CHE publication the poets will wish to have their identities concealed,” wrote the editor. Expressing surprise at this, Laurence received a second letter that included this comment: “Although the booklet is to be a CHE publication, there can be no guarantee that it will be seen only by CHE eyes, which means that for some to be published in it under their own names would not be brave but downright stupid. Second, some of our contributors may wish to avoid publicity through doubts about the worth of their work.”

30 Andrewes House,
Barbican,
London EC2Y 8AX

31 January, 1973.

Dear …,

I was more shocked by your second letter than your first. You give ‘two points to remember’ as reasons that contributors to the CHE poetry anthology might wish to publish under a pseudonym.

(1) The booklet might be seen by other than CHE eyes, and consequently, for some to be published in it under their own names ‘would not be brave, but downright stupid’.

(2) Some contributors may not wish publicity because of ‘doubts about the worth of their work’.

Neither of these reasons seem to me to be rational or valid. Firstly, contributors who wish to remain ‘in the closet’ should not have submitted material to a booklet that is ostensibly part of a CAMPAIGN. (Remember: CHE means Campaign for Homosexual Equality?) There are plenty of ‘straight’ poetry journals wherein one may be published without having to suffer the ordeal of guilt by association; let these courageous poets submit their creations there! Really, what respect must these people have for the Campaign, for themselves, and for their own homosexuality that they, must engage in such self-oppression!

Secondly, writers who doubt the ‘worth of their work’ don’t usually submit that work for publication!

I have decided to protest against this typical CHE furtiveness by (a) withdrawing my poems from this anthology – will you please see that this is done; and (b) publishing this as an open letter in an appropriate journal.

Laurence Collinson

Women Demand Human Rights

LONDON: Militancy isn’t a male prerogative. And women took to the streets in London to demand their rights as Tory MPs talked the Womens Rights Bill into the ground. Next day the CHE women were having their national conference in Manchester.

The Women’s Rights demonstrators were meeting at Caxton Hall and marching on the House of Commons bearing flaming torches.

Women hissed and jeered from the packed galleries of the House of Commons as Martin Maddon, the Tory MP from Hove talked the Bill out.

The Bill, a private member’s Bill (and therefore only discussed on Friday afternoons) has been tabled by Mr Will Hamilton, the Labour MP for Fife. It demands an end to lower wages for women and the introduction of equal opportunity for women in industry.

Women marching from the House of Commons to 10 Downing Street after the Anti Discrimination Bill had been “talked out”. Photographs: Serena Wadham

But it doesn’t go far enough. Mrs Ethel Chipchase, vice-chairman of the Trade Union Congress’s women’s advisory committee complains it’s a bill without teeth.

May Hobbs of the Night Cleanersn Union calling for action at Caxton Hall.

The Bill aims at making it illegal to advertise for an exmployee of either sex, just as it’s illegal now to advertise for someone who is or is not a certain colour.

The Caxton Hall rally supporting the Bill featured May Hobbs of the Night Cleaner’s Union and Audrey Wise, the Labour candidate for Coventry.

May Hobbs said once the Bill finally became law – after Martin Maddon has been persuaded to stop his bloody-minded histrionics – women’s equality will have to go on evolving and not become frozen by the law.

Audrey Wise warned: “Don’t be misled into thinking that equality is an abstraction: we don’t want all the disadvantages men already have.”

Many of the keenest supporters of the Bill went to Manchester the next day for CHE’s conference for gay women.

ED: We tried to get a more exciting picture of the Women’s Rights demonstration, but the clerical staff belonging to NATSOPA, one of the print unions, was on strike, and despite our having ordered a photograph, it couldn’t be printed for us. We’d like to thank Time Out and Angela Phillips, the photographer, for letting us use their picture of the rally.

Refreshing Radicalism

The first National Women’s Conference on Homosexuality was organised by Glenys Parry and Liz Stanley, CHE Executive Committee members at the end of January in Manchester University. Two hundred women of all sexes came from as far afield as Scotland to Southampton, Wales to Whitby and points in between.

The morning was spent in area reports, all of which repeated the depressing lack of women in CHE, GLF and women’s groups. The causes were brooded upon; possible hostility from men … fear of meetings … lack of personal welcome-warmth … fear of being recognised as gay in a small community … partner hunting which, when successful, deprived the group of the pair who settled into a replica of straight marriage.

In the afternoon, we broke up into small groups and tangled with five broad areas:
(1) Problems of married gay and bisexual women; the children of gay parents.
(2) Coming to terms with one’s own homosexuality; relating to each other and gay men; relationships to heterosexuals.
(3) Where gay women can go for help; specific problems relating to the caring professions.
(4) Women’s Lib, Radical Feminism and their relationship to the gay women’s struggle.
(5) The problems of isolated gay women in provincial towns.

Group 1 said: that gay/bisexual wives were stuck with their husbands for financial reasons. The social security alternative was a hand to mouth existence. Bisexuality isn’t the good thing people think it is. One looks into the future … one asks what is going to happen … Am I going one way or the other? Gays should investigate alternative life-styles, such as communes and pool resources of cash and childcare, but lesbians weren’t enough together as a gay movement to make this effective.

Group 2 said: there wasn’t a precise age at which one came to terms with homosexuality. Some never did. The young, particularly, have suicidal tendencies. Some believed that they were physically or mentally maladjusted. All feared mixing with men, whether gay or straight. Mixing in CHE groups would do plenty to resolve this.

Group 3 said: those in the group who had sought help from doctors/priests/psychiatrists had been lucky. All were sympathetic. The group was aware this wasn’t typical. Citizens Advice Bureaux, Samaritans and social services must be informed about local CHE/GLF groups and Friend.

Group 4 said: gay women live in a counter society … live against the grain of society … outside the nuclear family … so are radical. Essential to educate Women’s Lib out of fear of the stereotype aggressive lesbian. Priority action should be taken from the outside on behalf of gay women teachers who had an appalling oppression of job risk, not from pupils, but from their colleagues and superiors. Demand compulsory homosex-education in schools.

Group 5 said: National CHE should put their publicity weight behind local groups to use local radio, TV, papers and posters. Provincial groups had difficulty in keeping together because of wide spread areas. Convenors must be vigilant about continual contact. Pre-meetings contact with a new member should be in pairs. A one-to-one scene caused a shy lesbian to suspect a pick-up.

Whither women and CHE rounded off the session. Those there, were pro-bono CHE, but acknowledged its male image put lesbians off. Until there was an equal number of women to men in CHE, it would be ineffective in representing homosexuals.

Judging by the state of rapport at the end of the session and during the disco, the more National Women’s Conferences the better. This ’ere cockney was much enriched by exposure to out-of-London lesbians. CHE took on a larger dimension of honest-to-guts discussion about the realities to be faced and the resolve to overcome them brought refreshing radicalism to the usual staid stag socialising that bedevils London CHE groups.

NEWSETTES

◉ 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.

Letters Continued

Discrimination in Earls Court

London W8

Dear Editorial Collective,

Readers of GN – more than a few of them — who live in or visit Earls Court may be interested to hear of an odd case of discrimination which I met with at the NSS Newsagents, a few yards to the left as one leaves the underground in Earls Court Road. I wanted to display one of the printed CHE publicity cards on the postcard boards of this always busy shop; many newcomers to London look at these boards, and I hoped that some of them would ask CHE for information and, perhaps, help. As the Manchester address of CHE is the only one on the card, I added the address, phone number and hours open of the London Information Centre.

I handed the card to a girl assistant (who isn’t to blame in all this) who charged me 50p for a week’s ‘showing’ and said the card would appear the next morning. When, late the next afternoon, it still wasn’t up, I asked the same assistant about it, and she said that the manager had refused to display it; the trend of her remarks was that he thought it not respectable and likely to give offence. ‘To whom?’ I wondered. There are usually ads at this shop of the type ‘3rd young man required for gay flat’, and while I entirely support gay flats, I don’t see why, if they can be advertised, a concerned and humane organisation such as CHE can’t. There are always ads of the type, ‘Lovely young model gives French tuition’, ‘Young man seeks part-time work; any position considered’. In other words, prostitutes — but not CHE – can advertise there!

I asked the assistant if I could see the manager. She went away, came back, and told me he was busy. So I said I’d wait. She saw him again and told me that he’d be busy for the next hour; I politely offered to call back in an hour’s time or to make an appointment to see him. This time I was told that he refused to see me at all. Naturally I wanted the manager himself to tell me why the ad was rejected. A male assistant said that the trouble seemed to be that ‘it comes right to the point’ – to which I made the obvious reply that surely this was a very good thing. I suppose ‘the point’ is that the word ‘homosexual’ is actually used: blush, blush.

The crowning absurdity was that, close to the copies of Playboy, Men Only, Mayfair, Cosmopolitan, etc, the shop (partly redeeming itself) was selling Lunch, the CHE-associated magazine. I took a copy from the rack and pointed to the magic words inside the cover.

I might not have written this letter if the manager had agreed to see me, might have tolerated the lack of understanding and the illogicality; but the plain rudeness of his refusal led me to say — very pleasantly – that I’d try to give the matter some publicity, and where better than in this independent paper?

When I asked to have the postcard returned, the staff couldn’t find it. I was given back my 50p, but wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t looked to see if the ad was displayed. (I hadn’t left my own address). I don’t wish to be unfair: I expect the manager would have sent the 50p to CHE at 22 Great Windmill Street.

This may be an embarrassing letter if the NSS Newsagents sell Gay News! However, I don’t think they do. I usually buy mine from the news-stands outside Kensington High Street tube and outside The Boltons — to encourage this kind of ‘outlet’; the service is friendly and courteous.

What worries me is that it’s just possible that an unhappy homosexual might have been helped by CHE, and now won’t hear about it.

Peter Rogers

ED: The manager of the NSS Newsagents at Earls Court has always refused to stock Gay News, despite the large amount of requests he receives for it. His manner has always been rude to indifferent to the person approching him. He also has shouted, on at least one occasion “Fucking poof” at a member of the public enquiring whether or not he stocked GN. Please pester him and the staff until the paper is regularly on sale there.


ED. Owing to the extreme shortage of space in this issue, we are unable to publish as many letters as we feel we should. We apologise to those people who have not had their correspondence printed. We will endeavour to include their letters in the next issue.