No Evidence

19720901-04BRIGHTON: John Campbell, a 34-year-old London chef, was kept in police custody for three weeks for cottaging before the prosecution decided to give up and let him go home.

Mr Campbell, of Southgate, London N14, was put into the police cells on July 17 while the police got ready charges against him alleging that he “importuned for immoral purposes” in a men’s lavatory.

In the end the prosecuting solicitor David Nissen said the police had no evidence to offer.

He said: “I would submit that the police acted quite properly. There has been no application for bail in the last three weeks.”

John’s solicitor, Mr Cyril Chapman, said he’d asked for bail for John, but this had been refused because the police said papers on the case were being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Chapman said he couldn’t see how the charge against John had been brought in the first place.

Mr Nissen said that John made a habit of going to Brighton to “meet other men”.

The magistrates awarded John £20 costs against the police. The chairman, Mr Harry Brogden, said the court had sympathy for John and the £20 would cover his costs.

The man he’d met in Brighton, Paul Mitchell, 20, of no fixed address was put on probation for two years for stealing clothes and a railway ticket from John.

Pin Ups and Gay Politics

04-197208XX 05I am writing to give you some of my impressions of your first two issues.

In general I preferred your first issue to the second. What I liked in the first was the air of enthusiasm and of willingness to give expression to the ideas of all gay people. But already in the second issue, one has the impression that the radical feminists in London G.L.F. are to be excluded from the realm of gay people with legitimate grievances to be heard.

Both issues were rather prudish and respectable and I hear the respectable gay establishment of CHE etc. have given you their seal of approval. I was rather surprised when a friend pointed out that in many ways the American Advocate is a better paper than Gay News. People who have seen the American paper will know that it is completely male orientated, that it carries pin ups of “beautiful” men and that it has many adverts for gay clubs and baths. It also has wide news coverage and a certain vitality about it. So far as I can gather it is the most widely read American gay paper. (It would be nice to hear from an American sister or brother about how successful the various types of papers are).

So far Gay News has been completely male orientated and, with luck, your news coverage will become more comprehensive. But besides this the Advocate is also a sexy paper, where yours is not. I like the Biograph reviews, and I am pleased you hope to re-print “the ultimate cottage wall story” from Come Together. I hope to see more of this sort of thing. In many ways written accounts of sexual pleasure may be better than pictures of “Beautiful” people. The piece from Come Together 12 conveyed the excitement of cottaging very well. Gay News should do more to counter the oppressive respectability and anti-sex attitudes that permeate CHE and some of the diverse elements of G.L.F. In order to explain why I think these attitudes are oppressive I would like to discuss the question of pin-ups.

Curiously Mary Whitehouse and some radical elements in G.L.F. agree that pin-ups are bad, arguing that they transform people into sex objects. We are told that we should relate to people as “whole” people and not just as a cock or a vagina. But I, for the life of me, cannot detect a difference between “having sex” and “treating someone as a sex object” – at least in the moment of sexual enjoyment. In the actual process sex is a purely physical emotional and sexual experience. Different people have different physical and emotional needs, but, so far as I can see, in the actual act of sex we can be nothing more nor nothing less than “sex objects”. What is oppressive is to be regarded as nothing more than a sex object which is often the case with women who are supposed to be totally subservient to mens’ whims and fancies, but equally oppressive is the idea that we should never treat each other as sex objects. This is to give sex a mythical and exalted meaning which I can’t understand.

Thus I don’t think pin-ups should be condemned for transforming people into sex objects, but I do think there is a more important objection to pin-ups such as those printed in the Advocate. This is the argument that they tend to nurture and reinforce a rigid conception of what is beautiful. The worship of youth and beauty are an especially pernicious force in the male gay world. From talking to people I think that the problem facing many gay men and women is not that people use them as sex objects but that, because they are old or “ugly” they are deemed unattractive. There is nothing they would like more than to be treated as a “sex object.”

This is a problem G.L.F. has hardly begun to take seriously. I suspect it is a problem beyond CHF’s narrow concern. And within the gay world itself this can be the worst form of oppression faced by many sisters and brothers. We have our own Miss World competition every Saturday night in the Colherne and the Boltons.

With this in mind I think your policy keeping sex in words and not pictures may be the best one since it leaves the visual assumptions about age and beauty to the readers imagination. I hope you will look further into the problem of Gay News being sexy without being oppressive.

There is more I would like to say about the differences between G.L.F. and CHE’s approach to things because I think these are important for the future of Gay News. I agree with many of your criticisms of G.L.F. and the radical feminists in London, and I have heard reports of awful things they have done to people. But your reaction to this seems to have led to over respect for CHE. However, fundamentally I feel G.L.F. has much more to offer most gay people, both at the personal level and at the level of social change, whereas CHE often seems downright oppressive to people who enjoy cottaging, promiscuity etc.

I feel that approval from C.H.E. is rather like a kiss of death for any grass roots and meaningful gay paper. I hope you will become less respectable, I hope your collective will in time become less preoccupied with the mechanics of the production of the paper and have more time to talk about the oppression of gay people as it affects the sisters and brothers within the collective. I would like to explain myself more clearly but will restrain my pen for the time being.

Fraternally yours,

Bob Mellors.

DANGER! POLICE AT WORK

04-197208XX 09DANGER — please beware of the cottage at Marylebone Station, there is a minimum of four arrests a day there at present.

The cottages on Shepherds Bush Green are being watched and often raided by the police. A Gay News reader, on his way home from work at night, sees the police lying in wait quite frequently.

Be careful at the cottage on Charing Cross Station, another reader has pointed out to us that either BR police or the Met. police are busy there at the moment.

Please don’t forget that we have warned you that the cottages in Battersea Park are under continual surveillance this Summer.

Also remember our warning about the cottage at Baker Street Underground Station. Police and Transport Police have their eyes on what goes on there. And you may be in for a beating if caught or suspected by those gentlemen in blue!

All the above information has been supplied by Gay News readers who have witnessed something unpleasant at the mentioned cottages.

Danger! Police At Work

02-197206XX 3All the cottages in battersea Park are under continual surveillance by the police (plain clothed), and a guy was recently arrested at the popular one by the athletics track. After arrest by a plain-clothes-man he was taken to the superintendent of the park, so that in future he would be easily recognisable. When he appeared in court he sentanced to three months imprisonment, was fined £100 (for a first offence!), also suspended for three years, and banned from battersea Park for one year. Another guy, for whom it was a second offence, was fined £400. (All at the magistrates court, Lavender Hill, where there is a virtual stream of similar ‘offenders’.

So DON’T GO TROLLING IN BATTERSEA PARK COTTAGES – or if you do, you know what to expect.

Cottaging in Br. Columbia

or The Mountie Always Gets His Man

(Being excerpts from a letter from Roedy Green, dated 16th April, ’72)

02-197206XX 8You wanted some information on Cottaging. First of all I should make it clear that there is a very strong prejudice in western Canada against this practice. On top of the status heap are those who meet through private “parties”. Next come the club people. Next come the steambath people. Next come the outdoor cruising people, and on the bottom of the heap come the cottagers.

I think that the disdain with which the practice is viewed has a lot to do with the wide variety of other methods available. People who meet in cans must do so because they like cans – perhaps it is the smell that rouses their lusty emotions.

Police cruising of cans (even in an official sense) is minimal. In all my time I have never heard of anyone being arrested or even harrassed by police in cans. The one exception happened about ten years ago (I remember being somewhat horrified as a child) when the police broke up a huge orgy in one of the washrooms in Stanley Park. About 30 people were arrested but there was no further mention of it.

The most active can is the Hudson’s Bay downtown store on the 2nd and 5th floors (two separate places actually). One old gentleman goes there with two shopping bags. His intended is invited to enter his stall and stand with one foot in each bag while he blows him. I have never personally witnessed this event.

The reason this can is popular is that underage boys go there quite innocently and of course meet some older man. They keep returning there as they feel that is the only place that homosexual satisfaction can be had, and of course the dear old lechers keep them in ignorance.

Pme ptjer sprt pf cp
One other sort of cottagley thing is the bathhouse a few blocks from my house on English Bay. It is a cement structure that used to be the public aquarium that overlooks the beach. It is built partly under the road that runs under the beach giving it the look of some oversized hobbit warren.

The beach area of course is Vancouver’s main outdoor cruising ground (save Wreck Beach in summer). But at about 3 in the morning the steps of the bathhouse become the scene of an outdoor orgy with perhaps 4 couple doing their assorted things in plain view to the gawking spectators.

That is all I know about cottaging – no, one more savory detail – and this one was even researched in person (though I maintained my detached observer status throughout). When the student union building was being designed at UBC, someone thought
student
that students needed a place to rest during the day to refresh themselves for the late night labs perhaps. At any rate they installed dark rooms off the cans filled with about 12 huge leather couch-like beds. For some reason most of the beds were removed until there were only 3 left. After hearing about a friend of mine who claims to have had sex in these rooms with 5 different people in one day (he went in for the ten minute break between classes), I decided in moral indignation to investigate. It is true.