Your Letters

19720901-02Dear Brothers and Sisters,

WHY I AM OPPOSED TO WEARING FROCKS AS A POLITICAL ACT

The argument used by the “Frock Brigade” for wearing drag is that it challenges male privilege and is therefore aiding the liberation of women in our society. I wonder what privileges they are referring to? Neither men nor women in general have any privileges. The majority of “privileged” men have to work hard at monotonous jobs for low pay and have generally unsatisfying existences. It is not by men that women are oppressed, but by the System which oppresses both men and women. Men are often the unwitting agents of women’s oppression. The working man dissatisfied with the conditions of his work will vent his frustration on his wife When he comes home.

Hence it is a question of changing the system by which women are oppressed, that is by being given the opportunity to explore ways of relating other than the restrictive monogamous heterosexual relationships based on mutual tolerance rather than mutual love.

As a political act within GLF it is very damaging as the majority of gay people do not, cannot, and do not wish to identify with men wearing frocks. If a man WANTS to wear drag, that is a perfectly valid reason for wearing it, but it is folly to think of it as a POLITICAL act. It re inforces a stereotype image of gay people which can have a shattering effect on gay people who still feel ashamed or guilty about being homosexual, making it more difficult for them to accept themselves. The Frock Brigade (I do not use the term Radical Feminist as they are neither radical nor feminist.) should realise the amount of harm they are doing to the gay movement and, more importantly, how much unhappiness they must be causing to thousands of gays who become alienated by their tactics.

Apparently, as the Spare Rib incident would indicate, the Frock Brigade will only accept women’s liberation on their terms i.e. on men’s terms. If that isn’t patronising, I wonder what is. How can these men (even though they pretend they are not men) be aware of what being a woman is like, of producing and caring for children and of being brought up from infancy as a woman.

As a LIBERATION movement, let us not forget that liberation is about people. Let us not forget the people we’re trying to liberate.

P Waldschmidt.


WARNING
Brixton Hill
London

Dear Gay News,

Piggery alas at yet another cottage. On August 16 at Strawberry Vale cottage, Finchley, on the North Circular Road near the A 1000 intersection. I arrived to find a cute looking fuzz in fetchingly butch mufti – leather jacket and lovely black hair and moustache – taking down the particulars of several gay brothers whilst a colleague with an alsation dog looked on.

In early May the same cottage was invaded by-two Security Express guards, again complete with alsations. Whether the London Borough of Barnet had hired them for this purpose or they decided just to have a little go at any fucking poufs they might find whilst passing I can’t say, but clearly this is a terrifying precedent.

Love and strength, Jim Scott
Upper Richmond Road,

Putney Sw15


Dear Editor,

The negative comments in your column about Biograph Review are somewhat misleading.

Reviewing in national dailies has become a specialised art, obscurity is deliberate, and the writing seems purposely directed towards the comprehension of an elite few, not the total readership.

Biograph Review is informative without being stuffy. It is written in an extremely individual style. No profession lends itself to individuality more than journalism.

It is youthful. There is a two-fold place in modern journalism for youthfulness: first; to atone for past prejudice against young writers as “immature” second; because, as even the establishment has come to realise – youth has something to say.

The art of the critic is not easily attained.

George Copeland’s letter (Gay News No. 4) illustrates that. Especially if one aspires to the ponderous, overwritten, heavy material so often enountered.

Julian Grinspoon’s column easily achieves what it proposes – communication. It radiates friendship.

At his trial, Oscar Wilde was asked if the conversation of one of his young men friends was “literary”?

“No. On the contrary,” replied Mr. Wilde, “quite simple and easily understood.”

Fred G. Green
ex: Arts Committee
Gay Activists Alliance-New York

This is a letter sent to OZ magazine in reply to Felix Dennis’s criticisms of the Biograph Review. Julian says “right on and all that sort of thing” to Fred, and “hard sucks” to Felix.


Barons Court W 14

Dear Collective,

Notwithstanding the paranoia with which Bob Mellors consistently gives ‘sisters’ priority over ‘brothers’, there is much in his letter (GN no 4) to commend. At one point he might almost have been quoting me. I have always longed to be regarded as a sex object. Even when I was a pretty young chick (and I can substantiate that claim with documentary evidence) I was singularly lacking in that animal magnetism which attracts other gay guys into bed. Admittedly, over the years, this has been compensated for by a series of prolonged and searching relationships culminating in an ecstatic and richly rewarding love affair I had with a young man I met through the columns of IT (vide my “Sunday Times” letter reprinted in GN 3), but this doesn’t alter the fact that I am, and always have been, welcomed with something less than warmth on the sex conveyor belt that your eighteen-year-old writes about with such (feigned?) boredom.

This brings up the whole question of sex-appeal and psycho-sexual empathy in the gay world. Even in maturity, if I might euphemise middle-age as such, I am not a bad proposition. My teeth and legs are good, my sexual appetite voracious, and I give as good as I get. My IQ is not quite up to Bobby Fischer’s but my field of reference is much wider and I am not a nonentity having a certain recognition in my own field. My kinks are such that they give as much pleasure,to their recipient as they do to me. Above all, I am interested in the people I go to bed with. Yet all my life, these desperate months between affairs have been spent fruitlessly in pursuit of sex partners, whilst other people with no overt sexual appeal that I can recognise, seem to exert an effortless attraction for other gays. It is definitely not, as Bob suggests, a question of youth and beauty.

It is a much more elusive quality that I find impossible to analyse, or even to detect. How I envy those guys who wearily, and quite sincerely, sigh “Jesus, I must have a night off, for once.” This constant rejection has a debilitating effect on one’s psychological resilience and one’s sexual competence, which in turn are mutually demoralising.

I sometimes wonder what I am doing, helping the gay reform movement, be it in the press, on the box, or simply in my everyday affairs. It is many years since I gave up my hang ups about my homosexuality and my friends and associates accept me on my own terms, and I do not differentiate between my straight and gay friends. Nor have I cultivated, nor been able to cultivate, an exclusively gay circle. Perhaps the reason for my exclusion is my lack of exclusivity. I find bilateral society attitudes are still, and regrettably, very much the norm in gay circles. How often is one asked to parties with the qualification that one must not camp because it will be ‘straight’ or ‘mixed’ or introduced to someone with a whispered warning that ‘he is not queer?’ I have never subscribed to these partisan attitudes. Does this make me undesirable? Or is there some intuitively perceived aspect of my sexual quirks that people find distasteful? Or is it simply my profile?

Is there anyone else as gorgeous as me who is equally underdesired? If so, could we between us, discover what the psycho-sexual barriers are? Failing that could we not by-pass the A & B jet set, the Coleherne Miss World contest, the GLF chauvinists, the CHE mums, the Holland Walk perambulating circumnavigators, and get on with the fucking?

Sororally yours (if I might redress Bob’s balance)

James Stevens

P.S. I Love Grinspoon.


Julie Andrews
Monday Market St
Devizes
Wilts

Dear Gay News,

I am donating £1 to your Good Gay News magazine. I hope that many many people will come to read it and that many of us Gay lonely people may find that they have many friends.

Love and Peace
to all Gay Brothers and Sisters

Julie


Rosary Gdns.,
South Kensington,
London S.W.7.

Dear ALL,

I am writing to tell you, how I enjoy your paper, or should I say our paper, I got the first issue from the Colherne, and really enjoyed it, I then tried to get the second copy by doing a rather unsuccessful tour of the newsagents, W.H. Smiths, Menzies, etc. Although I had little joy in obtaining a copy, it was compensated for by seeing the faces of some of the newsagents when asked for it. And when they said ‘no’, the mouthful they got from me, it was very amusing, I heard one ‘straight’ remark as I left the shop – “Fucking Poof” – I haven’t been called that in ages, I felt quite nostalgic.

Anyway I got number two in the end from Virgin Records, long may their ‘Y’ fronts not hamper them.

My third copy was obtained from the ‘Boltons’ (outside — I’m not too keen on the interior) whilst mincing along one night.

I am pleased to say issue no. 3 is great, I really enjoyed reading it in bed the other night, although my old man wasn’t so happy, he had other plans for the night. I think no. 2 was a low, keep on having highs like no. 3, power to your elbows duckies.

Why not a column on make-up and beauty and clothes. Heaven knows there is so much crap on the market we need a good guide to colourful make-up and good bright clothes.

Please print my little ad as I can’t afford the rent for much longer. If you do print this letter, then anyone is welcome to my place for a chat and a little wine.

Will send you a subscription when I get someone to share my place.

Andy


WATCH OUT

Dear Gay News,

Readers who use the contacting facilities of Clapham Common may care to note the following experience of mine.

Recently I went to the Common and there met a seemingly rather pleasant man and agreed to return to his flat. On leaving the Common I saw it was very late, so decided to defer the pleasure to a weekend. Whereupon my companion became threatening, demanding money and my wristwatch. Largely to avoid drawing attention I got rid of him by giving him a small amount of money I had with me.

Next day I took legal advice, which was that the police, though they might prosecute me, most certainly would take no steps whatever to pursue my assailant – my best course was to try to raise a stink.

So I wrote to that noble custodian of the British liberal conscience, ‘The Observer’, then running a service of leading articles on public confidence in the police. Back came the reply that the matter was of interest to only a minority of readers (this from a paper that purports to care about minorities), that to criticise the police on the basis of a solicitor’s experience was ‘unfair’, and that although ‘The Observer’ had (of course) no sympathy with queer bashing, anyone trolling Clapham Common really 2 was asking for it.

So Gay News readers, should any of you ever be tempted to take a late-night constitutional in Clapham’s perfumed groves, watch out, there’s a thug about. He’s about 35, 5’9″ and fairly stocky with medium length dark wiry hair, receding slightly over somewhat lined features. Scottish, probably from Dundee, but now believed to reside in Clapham. On first impression he is a decent working-class bloke. He’s not, and if you meet him, avoid him and tell your friends to do likewise.

Love and strength,

James J Scott

Would Charles G. Brown, who had a letter of his published in Gay News No. 5, please contact us. Thanks.

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.