Here We Are Again

During its short existence, Gay News has come across many barriers — barriers of intolerance, ignorance and blind prejudice. It’s likely that many of you reading this have too. Hardly surprising, when one considers the amount of real information about homosexuals available to the average member of the public.

We cannot expect all to be well though until gayness is openly and freely discussed by the media (ie newspapers, television, etc), in schools and colleges, and anywhere else where knowledge and factual information should be available. All too often, the media, the medical profession, the church and all the rest, rely on age-old myths and suspect conclusions for their facts.

Subsequently it’s no wonder that the general public continues to be so much in the dark about the subject of homosexuality. Those of you who have come out to any degree will probably remember the shock and amazement of friends and relatives, when they discovered that someone they actually knew and/or loved, was one. Adding to the impact of your revelation was no doubt the confusion in their minds when they realised that the queer in their midst was completely unlike the stereo-typed caricature of a human being they had always expected a homosexual to be.

One of the reasons Gay News came into existence was so there would be an impartial mouth piece for the gay community, that would not only be accepted by the people it was named after, but hopefully to be also read by those who might decide it was time to enlighten themselves a little about one of the largest minorities in this country.

But even the best of ideals and intentions did not help us to easily overcome the social barriers of intolerance and the type of aggressive, unthinking prejudice known only too well by Oscar Wilde, or the man who recently went to prison for six months because of a furtive feel in a park with another consenting adult.

We at GN had to struggle and fight back, for we had a newspaper to regularly produce and after an initial period of suspicion etc, we found that people began to think a little more about their preconceived attitudes. Within a short time the many non-gay people we had to deal with started treating us exactly the same as anybody else.

That, unfortunately, was only part of the battle. W H Smith’s provided a means of ensuring that our early readership would be small, by imposing their hypocritical and old-fashioned moral standards on a newspaper that came into being in an age when men walked on the moon, doctors performed complex transplant operations and the whole world could possibly be destroyed by the pushing of a single button. They effectively blocked our chances of reaching a wide audience by refusing the handle any part of our distribution. This form of censorship is something that dear old Private Eye has been waffling about, in exaggerated accents, for some time.

We had no alternative but to set up our own distribution network, and while it is still somewhat limited, it is at least allowing us to reach five times as many people as we did with the first issue of Gay News.

The police have attempted to interfere with the news reporting of GN. Their action over one of our reporters taking photographs demonstrated the general maliciousness shown towards homosexuals. Our photographer was arrested and charged with obstruction, whilst he was trying to gather evidence about alleged police harrassment. This minor example of their hostile attitudes proved to be the first of many such incidents. Luckily for us, we now have the support of a number of people in the legal profession, as well as that of friendly Members of Parliament, who will come to our aid whenever we need them.

Another barrier set up to limit the potential and usefulness of Gay News was the almost total press silence about the paper. We didn’t kid ourselves that The Daily Telegraph, for instance, would run a two-page feature on us, but we did expect the supposedly free and impartial press to realise the significance of our publication. But hardly a word has appeared. Also, paid advertisements of ours have been refused by other newspapers and even ads quoting the opinions of Gay News have been declined, as we have reported in an earlier edition.

What the last few hundred words have been leading up to is that whilst the press and the majority of those working for it (and its supposed freedom) have frequently, if not totally, refused to report or comment on our existence, there have been a few brave and aware journalists who have not been afraid to do so. Many of them going beyond just that and advocating an end to the discrimination and intolerance usually displayed towards gay men and women.

One enlightened journalist is Alan Brien, who writes the Alan Brien’s Diary in the Sunday Times. Alan is not gay, or wasn’t the last time we met him, but he is aware of the present position of homosexuals in society and the many injustices they have to suffer. (To any reader thinking that he or she has never suffered as a result of being gay, we believe that it wouldn’t be difficult for you to find someone who has.)

From Alan’s column on Sunday 21 January, we reprint the following. We do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, to demonstrate that we are not alone in our struggle for social and legal equality.

Secondly, to show any heterosexual reader that it isn’t just gays who shout about discrimination etc. Thirdly, because we believe that it will give hope and encouragement to many gays who think that those demanding equality are fighting a losing battle. Fourthly, to prick the consciences of the many homosexuals who are journalists. And lastly, to express our thanks to Alan Brien, who has shown that he has the guts to express his convictions and opinions despite the social taboos and stigmas attached to the sexuality known to us as gay ness.

‘Wednesday: I thought Andy Warhol’s Trash was one of the best films I saw last year. But I thought most of his paintings and imitations of paintings were trashy, though they received glowing reviews from the posh critics. It is partly because of ambiguity in his achievement, the poppy-Cocteau effect of the charlatan genius, that I looked forward to seeing David Bailey’s portrait of him last night.

‘What disturbed me even more than the ban (I am certain we will see David Bailey’s programme eventually, probably mid-afternoon next Boxing Day, without a single protest being lodged) was the use of language describing it. I am accustomed to Lord Longford’s pottiness on pornography, But for the prisoner’s friend, the outlaw’s inlaw, who asks for Christian charity for murderers and torturers to object that here was a film which he understood, contained “reference to or sight of homosexuals and such like” is really shocking. And on the BBC Night Extra, the interviewer of Ross McWhirter lumped in “lesbians” with “obscenities” as if both would be equally likely to “offend against good taste or decency.”

‘Can people who use such terms of automatic abuse have ever knowingly seen a lesbian? Do they imagine she has hair on her chest, a brand on her forehead, and her knickers in her hand? Some of the best lesbians are my friends, and as pretty and feminine a lot of girls you wouldn’t expect to see in the Miss World contest. How can these objectors be sure they are not married to lesbians, or parents to them?

‘Once it was Communists whose appearance on our screen was banned because the sight would be so horrible that nice people would not want to invite them, even electronically, into their homes. But when Jimmy Reid actually appeared, without horns and a tail, he became a telly star overnight. If this is an example of Christian concern for the dignity of all God’s children, then I think I’ll apply for an injunction against Stars on Sunday.

‘Thursday: Access (the principle not the card) is one of the rights Mr Heath promised the public. TV has gone some ways so far to pussyfoot across this dangerous ground by permitting pre-selected outsiders to voice their opinions via the phone-in, or to appear in equally hand-picked groups and shout each other down in front of the cameras.

‘But a much more important restriction on the expression of unpopular views can be found in the newspaper business. Many papers refuse, even when paid for each line, to mention underground or dissenting publications. Gay News, the homosexual fortnightly, and Lunch, the Campaign For Homosexual Equality monthly, both find their ads refused. Are editors who pride themselves on the freedom of the Press aware of this?’

Tiptoe Through The Filing Cabinets

To change the subject completely, we have yet another appeal to make. Recently we acquired our first filing cabinet, but within a week possessing it, we find that it is inadequate to cope with our immediate requirements. And as the buying of office equipment is an event that rarely happens, owing to our limited budget, we appeal to anyone with one that is in good working order and is serving no useful purpose, to transfer it to the GN office. Incidentally, at the time of writing, we still have been unable to discover suitable premises to replace our present tiny office. So if you know of anything that is just waiting to be occupied by us, that has at least two rooms and is in Central London, please contact us immediately.

Next Issue

Gay News No 17 will be published and available from February 21. Till then, we hope this issue proves to be interesting, informative, entertaining and, dare we hope, controversial.

Gay News Editorial Collective

Late News From The Here We Are Again Dept.

Just in case it has escaped your notice, the egg on the front cover has now finally been scrambled. The logo that saw Gay News from issue one to issue 15 has gone to make room for more picture space on the front of the paper. Egg-lovers will be delighted to know that Gay News can supply back-dates of the paper, complete with the old logo. Just write and send us the cash.

And, whilst we’ll go on without egg on our face, the familiar Gay News lettering logo will stay the same. We hope you think it’s an improvement.

The End Of An Affair?

Being gay does not necessarily mean that all homosexuals are continually being harassed and discriminated against. A number of gays in fact, never encounter any difficulty in being themselves, although the vast majority, at some time or other, suffer directly as a result of their chosen sexuality. Either through legal oppression, job and housing discrimination, interference and violence from the police, ‘queer-bashers’, religious bigotry: need I go on? For most gays these intolerant and ignorant pressures from an aggressively heterosexual society become an accepted part of life.

For so many, there is too much to lose by becoming openly angry and struggling for their civil rights, because of society’s failure to comprehend and adjust to an acceptance and full understanding of gayness. A few gays, no longer content to put up with these problems and injustices, are brave enough to ‘come out’, and some of them join organisations such as CHE, GLF and the rest. For them the burdens of being gay, I suppose, become a little lighter and they can see ways in which they can actively attempt to put these wrongs to right.

Personally I have not found it too unbearable to live an open gay life. I found that honesty about myself was the best policy, and luckily most of my friends and acquaintances were aware enough to realise that there was no difference between us, except for my sexual preferences. 1 like to think that some of them now completely accept that there is more than one way to love.

But love has brought me into realising that there is yet another form of oppression put upon us gays by our legislature and political representatives. If you fall in love (define that yourselves) and you are heterosexual, it is the easiest thing in the world to have a happy, possibly lasting relationship. For gays too, to a certain extent. If you are heterosexual and your lover happens to be from another country, it is fairly easy to stay together by marrying.

But if you are gay and your boyfriend or girlfriend is Spanish or French for example, it’s not quite as easy. In fact it is extremely difficult. Immigration laws do not take into consideration gay relationships, thus making life very miserable and empty for some because of this existing situation.

A girl marrying a boy can overcome this, but can you imagine the reaction to a boy wanting to marry another boy, or a girl to another girl? It’s going to be quite a while before anything can be done to rectify this barrier between human relationships. There has to be many other changes, in attitude as well as legislation, before we can hope for any solutions to this particular problem.

Me, I’m feeling sorry for myself I suppose. I’m now alone after going through the beginnings of a very beautiful relationship, that had never been allowed to blossom into whatever it may have become. What happened was that we were separated after his visitors permit expired and he had to return to his own country. A foreigner is only allowed to stay for up to three months, after which he must leave. It is possible to return, but without a work permit (which usually only allows one to work within a limited area of employment and is also no easy task to obtain) and with him having already spent one lengthy period of time here, it could prove very difficult and frustrating to enable him to return.

My boyfriend and I may find a way around it. If we are devious and lucky enough. But most people in similar situations won’t necessarily be as fortunate as us. And we’re not even sure if we will be able to bend the laws yet.

Next time you come across someone who is dogmatic enough to think that gays are not oppressed, see if he/she can find a solution to this. And it is a problem that exists for a growing number of gays of both sexes.

In conclusion I’d like to say that I don’t think marriage is necessary to prove you love someone, but at the time of writing I would gladly ‘take the vows’ with my boyfriend so that we could be together.

ED: The writer of this piece has asked to remain anonymous in case the disclosure of his name hinders his plan to be re-united with his boyfriend.

Coming Out

19720901-05My boyfriend once apologised to a woman who had caught sight of us embracing (it was in her house as it happened). The woman’s reaction was “You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t start doing that!” And I’m sure she was right — unless the hets are confronted with direct expressions of gay affection, homosexuals will continue to remain one of those faceless minorities about whom anything can be said, and who can be freely discriminated against by anyone who cares to, confident that no-one dare speak in protest.

How many of us really believe the one in twenty figure? Don’t most of us really fear that we’re only perhaps one in a hundred or even less? For the rule is to assume hetero until proven guilty, and we all fall for this at some time or other. That dishy guy you fancy so much at work just can’t possibly be gay – because he’s just too ‘normal’-looking, and anyway you’ve heard him admit to fancying that voluptuous chick all the guys go for. This sort of situation would be a good time for a gay guy to ask himself how many times he had agreed to being attracted to a woman when he really wasn’t, and to remember the times when he, along with the others, had joked about what the queers had been doing in the Sunday papers.

The popular misconceptions, which the people in the liberation movements so confidently laugh off, affect us all, and we propagate them either directly by backing up the male chauvinist pigs and laughing at their Queer jokes, or indirectly – which is just as harmful – merely by laying low, by denying our gayness to society in showing no affection in public and in keeping up heterosexual appearances while in non-gay company (I can remember one ridiculous situation when about five of us clammed up for the benefit of one het!)

But for whom do we act like this? For a minority of ignorant bigots, or is society as a whole really so unapproachable? How many gay people tend to arrogantly believe that society consists of prejudiced ignoramuses who just ‘couldn’t understand’? What good are we doing ourselves by poking in corners for cases of discrimination and complaining what a raw deal we have because public opinion doesn’t allow us the ordinary social facilities of the majority, when, in fact, public opinion has never really been tested – most people ‘have never met one’.

The only product of lying low – gay people pretending not to be gay – is unhappy gay people: isolated people who think that they’re ‘the only one’, bitter political people with a deep sense of ‘us and them’, and people who have crushed the very quality of their personalities by repressing every aspect of their gayness. If only a lot of gay people would come out, then the isolated individuals would i see for themselves that they’re not alone, the ‘us and them’ feeling would be dispelled as many of them turned out to be us. and society might, after all, prove to be rather more human than we perhaps believe.

Don’t we owe it to our fellow gay people not to mention ourselves, to come out and express the goodness and enjoyment of being gay? Fve held hands, hugged and kissed with other boys in some very public places, not necessarily as a protest but because it seemed good to do it there and then. Usually, nobody notices, sometimes you get a bit of a surprised stare, and the most reaction I’ve ever found was “Uh! Fucking queers!” And I’m sure most gay people can think of a reply to that!

Love to Graham Chapman and other people who’ve come out.

“Queer” is how I feel

04-197208XX 05I feel there must be many potential readers of Gay News who have a similar situation to mine (see below) so perhaps you will be interested in my reaction to your first 2 issues.

I am greatly heartened by the existence of Gay News and filled with admiration that the product is so together, considering all the problems you must have had. I think the design and presentation is completely satisfactory although I didn’t care for the drawings, (except the one illustrating ‘Hamburger Jesus’ in no. 1). I approve of a radical viewpoint but you generally seem to be writing to gays who have long since come to terms with themselves and have only the Gays-in-Society problem to overcome. I mean that the contributors to, and persons written about in G.N. so far, seem already liberated. Maybe this is how it should be but read on! I hope for their sakes there aren’t many like me but I suspect there are and I am far from adjusted yet. I can’t add my voice to Gay Lib until I am a self assured gay. How about some encouragements and re-assurance for those like me! For example I would have been very interested in details of how David Hockney reached his apparently happy state – how did he tell his Mum? As your paper has moved me to write my feelings down you may also be interested in the non-events which have led me from total to partial ignorance; in any case it will be good therapy to precis it for myself, so here goes. It’s rather sad so get out your hankies!

Nine months ago I could not have written down I AM GAY without being sickened by myself. I have known since school that I was attracted to boys but as I also liked the company of girls I hoped I could encourage a hetero urge and become “normal” (cliche no.1). I never knew anyone who admitted to being gay and felt I was the only one in the World etc. etc. This had eaten away my confidence and although I have friends I can’t have a close friendship, because I can’t be completely honest with them. After years of worry and a few disastrous attempts to form hetero relationships I finally admitted to myself last year that I am gay and always will be. (I still hate saying it; it seems such an inappropriate word – “queer” is more how I feel). I hadn’t the courage to tell friends or parents in case they are repelled – still haven’t! And so I was completely despairing and felt utterly alone, but this year things looked up. From somewhere I found the confidence to improve my career and then almost at the same time I met Mr. Wonderful! (Surge of Strings). He seemed to quite like me and he has very similar tastes in entertainment, records, clothes etc. He is about my age and in more or less the same profession. And he is gay! (Thrills). The few gay people I have met or known of so far I have found rather caricatured anyway; unattractive, probably because I was too naive to recognise them unless they were very camp.

But he is a real person, sensible, sensitive and I love his weaknesses. He has gay friends and straight friends who accept him, although he is not without hang ups. Now the most banal pop love songs seem meaningful and I can’t listen to Dusty S. without becoming an emotional jelly. Is this boring you? Well one night we went to a (nice) gay club and the people were beautiful – I was amazed that they weren’t all posturing ponces. You can imagine the thrill of dancing with him after years of trying to enjoy groping girls. A little later after another evening out, I mustered the courage to tell him I was gay. He knew of course, but it was quite something for me to tell someone. He was very patient and sympathetic and near enough kissed me (Heaven!). It was such a relief to be open with someone at last that on a later occasion I just had to tell him I was crazy for him. SHIT!! What a mistake! He (tenderly) told me he was still hung up on an old boyfriend. That’s the end of the story. I still see him sometimes but he seems to be able to live without me as he doesn’t phone nearly often enough. What should I do Auntie Gay News? I’ve probably shown him my weakest side – Should I have taken the initiative? Are there others like him? There can’t be! My entry into GAYLAND starts and ends with him. How can I tell people what I am when I haven’t even been gay? Instead am I technically a homosexual? What a sad tale! But still I will be optimistic; things must change.

It’s done me good to wnte this down – I wonder if you’ll print any of it. I sure hope he doesn’t read it and recognise us or I’ll never face him again so please please don’t print my name or address (perhaps one day…). I would answer letters though.