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.

Editorial

Now that John Vassall has been released from prison (after serving an immoderately long portion of his 15-year sentence for spying for the Russians), and as a new book on Sir Roger Casement is about to be published, it’s time to wonder whether these ‘gay traitors’ would be as vulnerable now as they were in 1916 and 1962 respectively.

There can be no doubt that Sir Roger Casement, hanged for his part in the alleged importation of rifles into Ireland for the Irish revolutionaries – was condemned almost as soon as the British Secret Service “discovered” the controversial Black Diaries, which, they said, Casement had written cataloguing his sexual adventures for three years.

Vassall was forced into spying when he was blackmailed by the Russians who set up a man for him to sleep with. With the blackmailer’s usual weapon, film, the Russians turned a clergyman’s son who had risen to a trusted post in the Admiralty into a spy.

It’s easy to say that in 1962 gay love was illegal between men, and that everything’s, changed since 1967 and the Sexual Offences Act.

The sad and sick truth is that nothing has changed. The sexual Offences Act was a typical piece of “permissive legislation” that gives nothing away. Its clauses, exempt males under 21 and merchant seamen and all members of the armed forces and policemen as well as imposing the limitations of sex to groups of two “consenting” adults and “in private”.

The courts see fit to change their minds about what “in private” means with many of the cases of ‘indecency’ that come before them.

Gay sex between two adults may be free, but male homosexuals are still faced by the absurd and discriminatory 21-year-old-and-over rule. Obviously we have not got equality if the male of the species is seen by society as less responsible than his heterosexual counterpart. Whatever the law may tell us, there is still a stigma.

It is while society creates differences and these differences themselves create feelings of job-insecurity, social degradation, that the conditions that hanged Casement and forced John Vassall into spying on his own country survive.

If there is to be more than an empty charade of equality for gays on society’s part, there must be a significant change in the legal standing of homosexuals in Britain.

Acts of Parliament that say that we may do one thing, but not another are not enough. They are not permissive – in the sense of permitting us to do anything – but truly limiting.

By limiting their activity, and by seeing homosexuals as different creatures from heterosexuals, the law is forcing people into situations where blackmail and near-blackmail are still possible and practiced – after all, blackmail includes the fear of losing their jobs that frightens so many gays, possibly the majority, into leading secret lives.

Secret lives aren’t healthy. They’re not whole lives. They’re the sort of situation that gives the blackmailer scope to corner his victim.

It’s quite clear that if Sir Roger Casement were tried today, the court would not take such a grave view of the alleged diaries of his sex life. We remain unconvinced that a court could treat him as they would if the diaries had never been produced. Even today.

We remain unconvinced that no man could be blackmailed into spying because of his gayness.

To create another Vassall, all a spy master would have to do would be to put another male under 21-years old or a member of the armed forces in his way. Perhaps even an imaginitive spy-creator could arrange for his victim to be photographed in bed with two men.

The law is still discriminatory, as we have said. To us it seems that nothing has changed since 1916.

Equality For Gay Cops

LONDON: IT (formerly International Times) the oldest of Britain’s alternative newspapers reports that the Heath Government has relaxed discrimination against gay people in the security forces.

IT claims that this reverses the Wilson government’s puritanical edict which barred gays from promotion within the security forces.

The first boss to be appointed after this relaxing of the ban is Sir Louis de Bailli, the new head of the security forces.

ED: Thanks, love, and happy new year for the above to IT.

Harrow Is Hard

HARROW: The Harrow area has one of the highest rates of convictions of gays of any courts of London, claimed a priest who runs a group that aims to integrate the gays and heterosexuals as a “social experiment”.

The Rev Keith Gilley, who’s the Unitarian minister of Golders Green was talking about what goes on at Golder’s Green’s Integroup group to the Harrow Humanist Society.

Reiernng to discrimination against gays he said Harrow had one of the highest rates of homosexual convictions of any part of London. “In the year up to last February there were about 200 convictions in Harrow for homosexual behaviour,” he said. “The person convicted usually receives heavy fines, and worse, a mention in the local newspaper.”

Mr Gilley condemned the police for using spy holes in two cottages in Harrow and added that policemen in “camp” clothing were put on duty outside cottages.

He said “Integroup is a society meeting to promote better understanding of human relationships, both within the group and among the general public, an even balance of men and women is maintained, although no-one is asked to state their preference.

“As far as we know, human sexuality has always been extremely variable. The situation at the moment is one of non-knowledge.”

Your Letters

Please note that any letters received by us at Gay News
unless you state otherwise.

Not All Cock-Happy

Finchley

Dear Gay News,

Philip’s letter (GN8) on those bloody mincing unwashed queens greatly cheered me.

These people seem to delight in offending people generally and do nothing but harm to the homosexual cause.

It has been largely due to these gyrating freaks that we have so long been regarded as peculiar in every way.

I, like Philip, am gay and proud of it, but for the greater part of every day, live what I regard as a normal existence.

My main objection to the so-called liberation groups is that they seem to be obsessed with the sexual side of life and create the public image that we are all sexual perverts.

Their time would be better spent, and our cause better served, if they’d stop flaunting their ‘differences’ and merge with society generally like other minorities such as redheads, lefthanders and the Lord Longfords of this world.

I would be glad to hear from other like-thinking ‘friends’ to see if there is anything we can do to redress the balance and bring reasoned pressure to bear on the powers that be to let us live the lives we have a right to.

Let’s set up a force that will show people we are not all exhibitionists or cock-happy.

J. B. Marr
6 Stanhope Avenue
Finchley N3 3LX


Lurking in Public

Cheltenham.

Dear Gay News,

It may interest your readers to know that the following is happening in this borough.

In a certain public convenience a ‘member of the general public’ is to be found, apparently waiting his turn to go into the cubicle. At the first sign of anything even remotely sexual, he becomes abusive and nips upstairs to fetch a waiting constable.

At this point the culprit (or victim, depending on one’s point of view) is ‘invited’ into the nearest police station. Depending on whether the culprit is a big fish or a little fish he is now subjected to ‘heavy patronage’ before being allowed to go free, or hauled before the magistrates court and charged with insulting behaviour to a member of the general public.

The prosecuting officer makes no attempt to put this ‘member of the general public’ on view in the court.

So my friends, beware of that lurking ‘member of the general public’ is the moral of this letter.

It appears we are still the most persecuted minority in this country.

J.A.


Screaming Queens

London EC13

Dear Gay News,

This is just to tell Phillip (GN8) how much I sympathise with him about the screaming queens giving a totally false picture of gays in general. There is, in fact, all the difference in the world between them and us, since they want men because they fantasise themselves as women, and are thus pseudo-heterosexuals, while a true homosexual wants his or her own sex because that’s the way he/she is, and a good way it is to be, too.

Surely CHE is the organisation he is looking for: if he finds it a bit too sedate, he could liven it up. It is dedicated to the acceptance of homos into society, and he sounds just the sort of person it needs.

Michael Harth


Personal Ads Discrimination

Dear Gay News,

Replying to your invitation to comment on letters about the small ads (Gay News No 7) of course there is something wrong with stating a preference for a “hairy homo Hindu”. It would be racialist and discriminatory.

But it would be inconsistent to refuse to print it, because, as your correspondent points out, most of the ads are equally discriminatory. On the other hand it is certainly expedient to refuse ads that are clearly a front for prostitution and expediency justifies the refusal.

Almost all the discrimination expressed by advertisers is irrational, especially when relating to physical qualities. It is a platitude that race and colour are irrelevant to a person’s character, and they are equally neutral in regard to beauty.

Preference for an oriental, for instance, would only make sense if the person concerned was indoctrinated with the Thoughts of Mao tse-Tung, thus affecting his or her outlook on life. People cannot be judged by whether their credentials match up to advertised criteria which merely limit the field. But the small ads are as entertaining as the editorial pages, and at least one, from John Hiscock, is puzzlingly obscure. Is it just a vague (and costly) expression of goodwill to all readers7

J.E.


Gay Ads Vanish

Teddington.

Dear Gay News.

As a regular reader of the musical weekly ‘Melody Maker’ I noticed over the past year an increasing amount of gay ads appearing in the personal column. One could find at least a dozen ads in each edition then suddenly — no gay ads at all!

Obviously pressure has been brought to bear — but from where? Was it internal or external and why?

As the Melody Maker has a circulation of several hundred thousand, mostly young people, I think it vital that the matter is investigated.

A. Dickenson


Success Makes Enemies??

Campaign for Homosexual Equality,
Manchester Student Group,
c/o The Treasurer,
81 Egerton Rd.,
Manchester 14.

Dear Gay News,

I suppose CHE has been too successful not to have made some enemies. It seems from the misleading propaganda in issue 8 that Gay News wants to be one of them.

Peter Kelsey states that CHE members must be over 21. This is untrue. I joined at 20, and am treasurer of one of CHE’s groups for students and young people which play a big part in the organisation. Why did your editorial comment not correct this?

In Doug Pollard’s snide review of CHE’s Radio London programme he declares that marriage can’t work for anyone. This is dictatorial. People, gay or het, should be free to try stable relationships if they want to.

Denis Lemon states that CHE ‘is very much against cottaging’. Yet on the same page is an article by Bernard Greaves, member of CHE’s Executive Committee, about his Campaign against police harassment of cottagers. CHE has also issued a card advising people on their rights if arrested while cottaging.

Lemon also complains that the CHE national office did not supply information about gay rendezvous in Norwich to a telephone enquirer. If he had bothered to find out CHE’s version of the incident he would have found that such information is just not kept in the office. The enquirer could easily have joined CHE’s local group there if he had really wanted to.

Despite its length, I hope you will print this letter to set the record straight and to show that you are not hopelessly biased.

best wishes,

R. J Elbert

ED: As Gay News does not pretend to be the organ of any movement or party, its columns are open to anyone who wants to write for it (including you,R. J. Elbert).

So the opinions expressed in articles, which we do our best to check out, are those of the people whose name appears in the by-line on that article. If you think there is any anti-CHE bias in Gay News we’d like to point out that the Campaign for Homosexual Equality cannot even be bothered to send us a copy of its regular bulletin. Also, you seem to be under the illusion that we are biased against your organisation, in the same way that some members of the Gay Liberation Front tell us that we are towards their movement.

We remain the only unaligned gay information paper in Britain. And CHE, like everyone else, is welcome to use our columns.


Our Failure?

Dear Friends,

…I think Gay News is the best paper on the market at the moment, it’s straight to the point. Only one complaint though – there isn’t enough in it about Lesbians, or if you would prefer female gays.

Love, peace, freedom,
and happiness to all gays.

Betty

ED: We know that this is our outstanding failure so far, but sisters, we need your help if this situation is to change.


The Other Ads

Mountain Ash,
Glamorgan

Dear Gay News,

I am very glad to see we at last have a newspaper of our own, not just another pin-up mag. I appeal to all gays and liberal minded people to support it in any way they can, by advertising, not just personal ads. By using it to Buy / Sell. Houses / Flats / cars / any new or secondhand goods, and by using the employment section. Also by recommending it, and by giving it to all your gay friends.

Roger E Hawkins

Your Letters continued on page 6.

It’s On

MANCHESTER: The Campaign tor Homosexual Equality announced it will definitely hold its first annual conference, despite the resort’s playing hard to get.

At a meeting of Morecambe Corporation’s Publicity Committee, the members heard CHE’s case put by the campaign’s chairman, Alan Horsfall.

The committee decided it had no objection to CHE holding its conference in Morecambe in April 1973 by private arrangement with the owners of the Central Pier.

But the committee would not rescind its inaccurate minute that Morecambe did not have the facilities CHE needed even though committee members agreed that the minute was untrue.

The committee would not even recommend that the council rescinded this untrue minute.

A spokesman for CHE told Gay News: “The facilities point was a feeble excuse by which Morecambe Corporation naively hoped originally to hide the fact that members of the council were discriminating against CHE for reasons of pure prejudice.”