The occasional difficulty we have with the Here We Are Again column is how to begin it. There’s always lots of things to tell you about though, if you’re interested in how your paper is getting along. If there are ever any aspects of the paper you particularly would like to know about and see in print and we don’t cover here, all you have to do is drop us a line, addressing it to Here We Are Again. By the way, the problem getting into this piece seems to have been overcome.
Mentioned in the previous paragraph is a line about writing to us if there’s anything you want to find out about. Whilst on the subject of letters, we at GN have noticed that there has been a general falling off in the amount of correspondence you have been sending us for publication. Maybe the Christmas period had something to do with it. Remember though, the success of the letter page depends entirely on you, our readers. So if you have any comments, criticisms, complaints, information or whatever, you think should appear, don’t hesitate to write to us, stating of course if the letter is for publication or not.
W. H. Smith & Sons
The other Wednesday on BBC 2’s late-night Edition programme, a representative of W. H. Smith & Sons, the well known monopoly newsagents, distributors and moral censors, was defending the companies actions of restricting the amount of papers, magazines and books they allow the public to read. The Smith’s spokesman wriggled and avoided most of the questions put to him quite well and left viewers with no doubt as to why they don’t stock certain publications etc. The reasons obviously being that this firm have set themselves up as censors, thus deciding the amount of information, entertainment and awareness they think the British public should be able to get its hands on. Another gentleman on the programme, who squirmed delightfully and passively to the tune of Big Brother W. H. Smiths, ended the discussion with a most historically ludicrous comment — straight out of the Dark Ages – for he remarked that people in the provinces did not want or require the papers, magazines, et al that Smith’s won’t handle. What absolute rubbish. As Colin Wilson said in his recent book Order Of Assassins, ‘creative evolution’ is a must for a progressing and expanding society, and what better way is there of helping people to evolve and reach new levels of awareness than by supplying them with all available information and telling them of new ideas and theories that are currently being developed.
No News, Maybe?
Whilst a large number of our readers, and organisations, send us details and news of what is happening in their areas, there are far too many cities, towns and counties that we never receive anything from. Possibly the reason for this is that they have not yet heard of Gay News, or have been unable to get hold of copies (thanks to well known distributors who will remain anonymous). But this doesn’t explain away all the places where apparently nothing every happens. So come on people, let’s hear what’s going on in your part of the country, if you are not already keeping us informed. We are a newspaper, aren’t we? Please help us keep on being so.
Just so you don’t have to do all the work yourselves, Gay News is taking advantage of the news clippping services of Romeike & Curtice. But even they won’t be able to clear away all the gaps that appear in our news and information coverage. The rest is up to you.
Still Only 10p
Many of you when buying GN directly from a Gay News collective member remark, “Still the same price?” Cheerfully we allways chirp back, “Of course”. In this day and age, prices do not often stay static for very long, but we consider 10p to be a fair and reasonable price for GN and try and keep it the same for as long as we are able. That should be for some time we hope, even though we are intending to increase the number of pages in the not too distant future.
As we said on the cover of GN14, that edition contained more personal ads than we have ever printed before. We take it to mean that you are finding the ads to be useful and judging by the amount of box number replies we send off, the ads are certainly being seen by more people than ever before. That’s great with us, but please don’t forget, if you have to be too explicit in your wording of an ad, we unfortunately will have to tone it down. The vast majority of ads are perfectly acceptable, so to the few people who can’t save certain things until answering the letters of those who reply to their ads, please don’t get too annoyed with us. As we see it, it’s better to have — for the time being at any rate – a slightly inexcessive personal ads service than to invite prosecution, which could well result in there being no paper at all.
Our ‘Gay’ Printers
F.I. Litho, our beloved printers, seem to be becoming the largest producers of gay publications. And good luck to them, they try their best for us. Originally they just printed Lunch*, then along came Gay News, and now Jeffrey* has joined the flock. We’re sure downtown Pentonville Road has never been so ‘gay’.
Whilst we are not allowed to mention them by name, it is against some sort of professional regulation, we would like to take this opportunity to thank our solicitors. The legal advice they give us is extremely helpful – many times giving us their time and ideas without us having to ask. And they always find time to listen to, and advise on, anything that is worrying us, no matter how trivial. Thanks a lot, we appreciate it.
In the next few issues of Gay News, we are planning to change and improve the basic design of the paper. We’ll let you know more about these alterations when we finalise our plans.
Although there is a strong possibility that we will be moving to larger premises soon, until things are definitely fixed, please let us know of any offices you may know or hear about in Central London. We really have outgrown our present ‘home’ and are beginning to get a little desperate.
As usual, hope you find this issue up to our usual standard. Thanks for supporting us by buying it. Gay News No 16 will be published on and available from 7th February. See you then.
* Lunch is a monthly magazine, featuring articles, comment and interviews. It is associated with the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, although having strong independent editorial policies. Price 20p.
* Jeffrey is a commercial gay men’s entertainment magazine and is also published monthly. Price 25p.
Thanks for welcoming us to the New Year by purchasing our first edition of 1973. Despite the present financial gloom, we are all optimistic about the future, and like Mr Micawber, feel something is bound to turn up.
As we have said in the Editorial, we do need a large amount of money/capital to come into our coffers to guarantee our continued existence, as well as expansion and improvement. But as well as needing cash, other needs are almost as important. These are larger premises, which hopefully will be available in the not too distant future, and also we must have better and more professional organisation and systems of working together within the structure of Gay News itself. And it is up to us, the joint editors and members of the editorial collective to make sure that these things happen. We most certainly are endeavouring to.
On the first of this month we are being joined full-time by Peter Munday, who is now solely responsible for distribution, apart from street selling which is a must for every member of Gay News.
It is extremely important that we do sell more copies of GN, but to do this we have to find more outlets. This is where Peter comes into his own. As well as ascertaining all is running smoothly with our present distribution network, he will, during the coming months, be attempting to make sure Gay News is on sale in many more newsagents, bookshops and street vendors pitches around the country and in London. Also, and probably more significantly, Peter will be trying to arrange that the paper is available in as many gay pubs and clubs throughout Great Britain as possible. Whilst GN is still in its infancy, it seems logical to us that the best place to sell a gay newspaper is in gay places.
So if you can help Peter, please contact him at the Gay News office.
As well as having someone to handle our distribution, we also have been joined by Mike who is looking into the present running systems of GN. We feel many areas leave a lot to be desired and also that we may be wasting much time and energy by using unrealistic and self-defeating methods. So during the month or so Mike is with us he will be examining the complete structure of Gay News and be offering advice on how we can improve or change the present way we work. In addition, he will be organising new ways of handling the administrative side of the paper.
New Years Resolution
During 1972 we felt that there has been far too little co-operation between Gay News and the other gay publications available. Like us, these other papers and magazines are as hard pressed for money and necessary assets. So it seems to us at GN that if we all try a little harder to understand what the others are doing, and worked and exchanged information with one another it would help put an end to that bad feeling that exists between some of us.
All too often, bitchiness, intolerance and non-communication has taken the place of friendliness, awareness and a general interchange of ideas. Unfortunately, this has happened too between Gay News and some of the gay organisations. None of us are going to get anywhere without each other’s help and support, so in 1973 let’s all take a step down from the various pedestals we have placed ouselves on, and be friends, even if we cannot bridge the gap between our ideological differences. Gay News sees no reason why a little more co-operation and love amongst the various gay publications and organisations will result in any of us having to sacrifice our editorial independence or ideological convictions.
By working together we can show the ‘straight’ world more than just the fact that we are no different to them. For we can also let them see the power of togetherness and toleration by a large and varied cross-section of people who by overcoming their differing opinions and committments, can jointly struggle and work for a common cause.
Togetherness and toleration should be the New Years Resolution we should all make and keep through 1973.
Apart from a brief phone call the other evening, the last we heard of Julian D. Grinspoon was that he had gone off to his beloved Brighton for a quiet but socially busy Christmas. A member of GN did receive a rather vague call from him though last weekend, when, in a lightly breathless manner he said he was thoroughly bored with turkey and that his New Years article would be ‘gay’ ways of making turkey leftovers interesting and appetising. Since then we haven’t heard a word from him, and as turkeys are a fading memory for most of us, it’s probably just as well. Anyway, Julian, we hope, will be back for the next issue. We all love you, dear.
Gay News No 15 will be available from 24th January. Please keep your letters, articles and suggestions coming in. See you all next issue, and hope you enjoy this one.
MARSH HOTEL (Mike & Eileen) Canute Road. Southampton
Semi-Gay. Disco every Thursday night. Also:
THE ANCHOR INN (The Viking Club), East Street. Southampton. Saturday nights – Girls only (Ask for Jan).
THE PUBLIC HOUSE, not just another bookshop. 21 Little Preston Street, Brighton. Phone 28357.
LE FAUNE Restaurant, 23 Praed Street. London W2 1NJ Tel 01-723 5170
Thanks to SHANE’S CLUB, 71 Compayne Gardens, West Hampstead, London NW6 for selling Big GN.
THE PAVILION CLUB, 123 Shardlow Road, (A6), Shardlow, Derbys Tel Shardlow 581. Open Wed. Fri. Sat & Sun from 8 00pm
THE LORD ROBERTS, Canal Walk, Southampton, (June & Mike).
THE GLOBE, Bernard Street, Southampton. ‘Always a warm welcome from:- Kath, Dick & Peter
THE ROBERT BURNS, 9 South Front, Southampton ‘The small pub with a BIG welcome:- Doris & Dennis’.
CLUB CONTINENTAL, High St. Below Bar. Southampton. (Disco) “Strictly Gay”.
THE GREEN MAN.The Place, Winchester. Hants. Your Host – David M. Powrie.
PRINCESS ROYAL, 172 Wellingborough Road, Northampton. Your Hosts – Pern and Vim.
THE NIGHTINGALE CLUB, 50 Camp Hill, Birmingham 12 (021-772 2665) sell Gay News.
(They also get a gold star for the best address we have seen so far for a club or a pub.)
Gay News, wishes to thank the management and staff at the Coiherne and the Boltons (at Earl’s Court) and the Champion (at Notting Hill Gate) for their help in letting us sell Gay News in their establishments. Gay News will regularly be on sale in these three pubs in West London.
The DisKOtheque (D O K), 2a Lowndes Court. London W1 (off Carnaby Street) regularly has Gay News on sale. Thanks.
Gay News thanks Roddy and The Masquerade – the paper is always available at the door. Masquerade Club, 310 Earls Court Road, SW5
The Father Red Cap. Boys Only, Girls Only and Mixed Disco’s. Gay News is always on sale.
Valentine’s – Georges Club (off Gay Street), Bath. Gay News is always on sale.
Thanks to “LOS CHlCOS”, 312 Old Brompton Road. Earl’s Court, for selling Gav News
Thanks to DON JOHNS, one of the North’s foremost Gay Clubs, for selling Gay News.
Ronnie will be selling Gay News in THE GREEN ROOM at The Wheatsheaf, Goldhawk Road, Shepherds Bush.
When you stay at MAGGIE’S PLACE Hotel you can also buy Gay News to read in bed.
Please note that any letters received by us at Gay News are liable to be published unless you state otherwise.
Just to let you know, as calmly and sweetly as the situation permits, that the beautiful back photo on p7 of GN 10 is by me, repeat me. It is nothing to do with the journal called GAY TIMES, to which it is acknowledged, except insofar as they have printed it once, without bothering to acknowledge it at all.
The model, being well over 21, when this picture was taken, will no doubt be having the last laugh when he sees it used as an illustration on this particular subject!
Feminism is a Drag
Please find enclosed my renewed subscription to Gay News.
I think it is a super production, but I sometimes get very depressed when I read all about the persecutions, prosecutions and the drag scene. The latter is stupidly too feminine for my liking and spoils the true concept of a homosexual.
In GN8 you had a short article on pederasts. Well, I’m afraid I’m one and as someone said in your paper, I must have a very sick mind. Maybe I have, but I have never approached or molested a child in my life, nor do I intend to. It’s far too dangerous to do and would spoil that child’s future. I reckon my mind isn’t as sick as those that dress up as women and those that act and address each other in female terms. They just cannot appreciate the male form.
For some years now I have adored, from a distance. boys of the ages 12 to 16 years. I think their faces, in most cases, are the prettiest of any human, their build just perfect. To me the body of a man is revolting and I would rather die than share a bed with one and likewise the thought of buggery is nauseating. My dream would be in the position of being able to kiss a boy from head to toe and no more.
I have never met a homosexual person in my life. Maybe because I don’t look for one. I have read many books and magazines which I often find revolting, but sometimes get satisfaction in seeing magazines of nude boys. I have never seen a real live body of a nude boy since I was a kid myself. I would really give anything, and I mean this, to see one and be with one. I have often felt like advertising, but realised it would be stupid because of the law.
It is terribly frustrating to look at a boy and not be able to touch him even though you don’t intend him any harm…
It is the first time I have ever written to a paper or a magazine. Gay News is the most advanced paper I have come across and I sincerely wish you continued success and safety.
Beware Of Longford
Dear Gay News,
I was so enraged to see that letter in GN9 by HRA (whoever the hell he is) condemning the picture of Longford and Cliff Richard that I felt compelled to write. I reject any notion that it was in “appalling bad taste”. I found it was very funny, and it made my day. Thank God someone has got a sense of humour.
I must admit that Lord Longford has always been a source of amusement to me, but that hit the bull. If it was mocking, then it was justified. If HRA is offended by the sight of a prick, then I feel sorry for him, he’s missing out on a hell of a lot!
Going back to Lord Longford as a person, it must be admitted that he indeed has a social conscience, but his idea of ‘helping’ is ludicrous, and even frightening. All that he believes in centres around sex, pornography etc; he seems to have it on the brain (which sounds bloody uncomfortable to me). People associate him with pornography, because every time we hear about him he rattles on about it. True, he might ‘help’ drop-outs, but then I could give you a list as long as your… no, longer, of people who devote their whole life to helping in the true sense of the word.
In case anybody did not realise, Lord Longford is officially a nothing. Despite the title and the fact that he can gas away in the House of Lords, he is only one person, and represents nobody – as an MP does. He is a member of a chamber that is not elected, therefore undemocratic, and unrepresentative. He is one of the many one-time officials that are put out to grass in the Lords. He has the advantage of assuming importance so that the Government could well take notice of his monstrous report.
For anyone who knows what freedom of expression is, beware, because if Longford gets his way, you’ll lose what you’re just getting.
Although it is only one little aspect of the subject, if Oz offends someone, don’t read it. If Oh! Calcutta! depraves, don’t look at it. And if the children are going to be corrupted, the goddamn parents can make sure that they only see what’s OK till they’re old enough to judge. After all, nothing will survive unless there is the demand.
Sorry this letter is so long and rambling, but let me end on a serious note. Well done to all the collective, you’re doing a great job. I’d send some money, but I’m out of a job and I’m broke; never mind, it’s the thought that counts.
How To Sell More GN
Dear Gay News,
One way to encourage more people to read GN (re: editorial in GN9) is for regular readers never to throw away a copy. Every copy can be left in a public place, trains and buses being the most convenient, rather than the dustbin.
Now that the paper is well-established, borough librarians could be expected to consider requests for the paper in public libraries; or is that asking too much?
ED: The best way to get Gay News into public libraries is for GN readers to demand that their librarians order it and put it on display.
CHE And Tight Foreskins
Dear Gay News,
I have recently been reading your paper which I find very interesting. There are two points from recent issues about which I would like to comment:
Firstly, someone seems to think that membership of CHE is limited to those over 21. This is not the case, though a particular local group may, if it so wishes, restrict its membership in this way. (Leeds does NOT).
Secondly, the tight foreskin problem. As an (ex) fellow sufferer, I read about this with real feeling. I suggest that unless the problem is quite exceptional the easiest and most natural method is best (I detest surgery). The method is to use a dropper with olive oil on it, drop into the problem area and very gently ease it to and fro. If this is done two or three times a week, for a month or so, you will soon find it can be pushed right back, washed, and the hood slid back with just a touch of oil for lubrication. The worst is then over, an occasional working to and fro and all will be fine (it was with me anyhow). This method was recommended by a doctor.
All good wishes.
Henry Giles Leeds Chairman, CHE
David Lutyens’s review of my book One In Twenty in GN8 is incompetent and absurd; he cannot have actually read the book at all. He says I deplore the fact that there are no serious homosexuals. But I do no such thing – on the contrary in Chapter Four I devote a whole page to listing homosexuals of genius, including nearly all those Mr Lutyens mentions himself, plus a great many more. In fact all that he fulminates against me for not mentioning, I do, and discuss at length: that every woman has a masculine side and every man a feminine side; that homosexuality is found in primitive as well as advanced cultures and so on.
He does not tell your readers who publishes the book (Seeker and Warburg), nor how much it costs (£1.50). He discusses it as if it were a new book, when in fact it was published six years ago, when homosexual acts between adult males were still crimes and the whole social atmosphere surrounding the subject was quite different from today. He misspells my name throughout the review. In fact, he gets everything wrong. What a shoddy performance!
ED: If any other reader would care to review One In Twenty, we will gladly print it.
Your Letters continued on page 6.
Despite continuing financial, distribution and organisational problems, here we are again with issue No. 8. At least no-one can say that we are just a ‘seven-issue wonder’. And although the problems pertaining to the paper’s existence still continue, we of the collective are coming to terms with how much work and commitment is needed to carry on bringing out a regular fortnightly newspaper. It’s also becoming much more fun for us to be involved with such a project; even the rows and unpleasant situations we have recently found ourselves taking part in have not stopped us from realising that an aura of happiness from each member of the editorial collective is an important factor in getting out each edition of Gay News. We don’t want to bore you with the long hours etc. bit, but you really can do just about anything if you keep smiling.
Our money and distribution problems are closely tied together. You have no doubt noticed that under the credits and contents section on this page, we claim that distribution is done by ‘Us, You and A Prayer Book’. Well, strictly speaking that’s true. We do have three or four small distribution companies helping us, but the majority of copies you see in the limited number of shops that stock the paper are there because we supplied them. The shops have them either because they responded to a letter we wrote to them; because the shops got fed up with being asked for the paper by their customers, or because one of you wrote or telephoned us giving details of outlets you thought were worth us following up. (Thanks a lot, and keep it up). Also, as many of you will know, we regularly sell the paper in the major gay pubs in London, and we believe that copies are available in a few pubs and clubs around the country.
But unfortunately these distribution outlets are still not enough to support our continued existence. We must sell more copies to carry on, and we hope that as a result of a lot more effort on your part, and help from you whenever you can supply it, that we will be able to sell more of each edition, both in London and, more importantly, in the rest of the country.
There are so many areas of the country we never reach and then there are places where the amount sent is, in our opinion, ridiculously small. One such place is Manchester, where it is left to one or two people to try to get the paper to the whole of the gay population of that city. It’s crazy that we should sell almost double the quantity we sell in Manchester in Brighton. Even Reading sells almost as many as the major city of the north of England. And it’s not just Manchester that has such poor distribution. Liverpool, at present, has less copies sent to it than Bath.
Of course, we are not trying to put down the people who already do as much as they possibly can in those places where our circulation is so disastrous, but we appeal to all gay people who live in places where the paper is rarely seen to help alter this situation. There are a number of ways you can do this for us. Firstly, you can sell them for us, whether in your local gay pubs or clubs, or just to your circle of friends and acquaintances.
Secondly, if you are not into selling copies yourself, perhaps you know of someone who might, or maybe you could approach gay pubs and clubs in your area to sell them for us. Thirdly, you can send us the names and addresses of any newsagents and bookshops you think may be interested in stocking us. It would be better still if you could approach them for us. Fourthly, please send us details of newspaper wholesalers and small distributors that operate in your part of the country. Lastly, you could take out a subscription and let all your friends see the paper after you have read it, and then encourage them to also take out a subscription. And, as a last thought, you could send us the names and addresses of any people you know who, in your opinion, would like to see Gay News, and would like us to send them a sample copy of a back number so that they can see what we are up to, and all being well, they might decide that they want to see the paper regularly, especially if they live in a more isolated part of the country.
We feel that it is important that Gay News reaches as many places and people as possible. It wasn’t so long ago that nearly all of us had to live ‘double lives’, but times have changed and although the situation is still far from ideal, at least not as many of us have to live in dread and in isolation for being what we naturally are. So it is essential that Gay News takes its place alongside of all the other newspapers and periodicals at newsagents, street vendors pitches and bookshops. Gay News has ‘come out’ and must stay out in the open and not be relegated to just a few sympathetic retailers and pom shops. In time we hope that we will be joined by other gay publications, and not just the ones that are out to exploit you.
It looks now that distribution will always be our responsibility (with a little help from our friends and you). In past issues we have shown you the ‘polite’ and ‘understanding’ but unco-operative letters from major distributors who have refused to handle us. In the columns of this editorial we reproduce two more such letters. The addresses of these firms should be legible, so may we suggest that you write to these companies and tell them that wide distribution is necessary for the paper, and also let them know about the difficulties you have encountered in obtaining copies.
And anything else you may care to add. We suggest you do this as soon as possible; it just might make someone at Seymours or one of the other organisations such as W.H.Smiths wake up to the reality that it is not just us that want Gay News to be as widely available as possible.
We dislike to be continually appealing for your help, but if we are to survive, we must have your support. This is your paper, don’t forget, and there are no nameless, faceless people trying to make a fortune out of you. Nor is it the aim of Gay News to subvert you with one particular political viewpoint. Your political opinions are your affairs, just as the ones we individually hold are ours. There is a need though for a change in the existing legislation that affects gay people, but one does not have to subscribe to just one political party or organisation to attempt to obtain these much needed alterations to the statute books.
Eventually, through more efficient and wider distribution of the paper around the whole of the country we hope to alleviate most of our money problems. And add to this the increased advertising which we hope to attract, and maybe soon we will be in a more secure financial position. But at present we are very short of cash. And what national newspaper isn’t. But we feel that what we are attempting to provide through the news and information that appears in our pages is something that papers such as The Times, The Sun do not print, and they have no positive plans to include such items in their columns, no matter what the need. So if you feel that we are a valuable asset to the gay community, please help us to carry on, in any way that you are able.
Since the completion of GN No 7 and the appearance of this issue, we have gone through a number of changes in our organisational structure. At times this has led to some bitter quarrels and truth games amongst ourselves, but all is now resolved. The result is that we feel that Gay News will be a more effective and streamlined operation, which will mean both a more comprehensive and objective system for the gathering in of news and articles, as well as generally tightening up our office procedures. The last point being somewhat boring but necessary, although we hope to avoid all the bureaucracy that so many organisations fall foul of. The addition of new members to our editorial collective, who bring with them both experience and new ideas, will in time make it possible for us to boast a ‘new improved’ Gay News.
There is also a good possibility that we will be moving to larger offices next month (at no extra cost, we hope). Those of you who have braved 79 steps up to our present office will understand why it is necessary for this move, and will be relieved to hear that our new premises will be on basement level.
We apologise for not letting you know what happened to the Biograph Review in the last issue. We leave it to Julian D. to explain what has been going on in his column in this edition. Also Denis Lemon will be commenting on the recent legal proceedings he has unfortunately been involved in.
Some of you may have noticed a number of design errors in GN No 7. These were due to the fact that the collective had to get the paper together, for the first time, without the invaluable aid of our resident designer. Everything is back to ‘normal’ in this issue though, we are glad to say.
We hope you all find something interesting and informative in the pages of this issue. But please remember that it is basically up to you whether or not we succeed in being useful and entertaining, not forgetting too that we need all the help you can give us in just keeping the paper alive, well and ‘kicking’.
Take care of yourselves, write to us, and to misquote the words of a past Gay News ‘queen of the month’; ‘Come up and see us sometime’.
So many of you complained when we went back to 12 pages again last issue that we’ve relented and given you 16 again. Apart from anything else we couldn’t have fitted everything in otherwise. I only wish you were as eager to send in your spare cash as you are to moan when we try and do something better.
BEDFORD, PLYMOUTH, STOKE, DONCASTER, YORK, ABERDEEN, CARDIFF, BOURNEMOUTH
In some of these towns., Gay News is not as available as we would like. If you live in these towns and want to sell ‘Gay News’ in bulk (10 or more copies) at 7p each, write or phone GAY NEWS, 19 London Street, London W2. Tel. 01-402-7805
This, the third issue of Gay News, will be coming to you after we of the paper’s collective have been to the House of Commons to talk with members of Parliament who are sympathetic to and interested in the paper you are holding. The M.P.’s we are to meet, like many other valued members of society, have been outraged by the recent House of Lords decision that still allows it to be a criminal offence to ‘conspire’ to help relieve peoples isolation and loneliness. And so what if some of the people who use the personal column of this paper are only interested in a bit of fun or a form of excitement. Why should it be illegal for people to indulge in their fantasy’s and possibly contact someone they might not have otherwise met; with whom they might have an extremely rewarding sexual union., and maybe more.
We apologise for continually referring, in Gay News’ pages, to this somewhat ‘queer’ legal situation, but whilst the threat of possible prosecution (because of the perpetuating of these archaic laws) hangs over this papers existence, we would like to remind you of the possible consequences of our actions and keep you informed of any further developments. In issue No. 4 we will tell you of the outcome of our visit to Our seat of Parliament. For now, keep the ads coming. We will print them.
The feedback from you, the papers readers, has so far been favourable. You seem to have been interested and amused by its contents. A particularly popular feature so far has proved to be The Biograph Reviews, although not to all, who accuse us of encouraging gays to perpetuate parts of gay life which seemingly aren’t acceptable to heterosexuals. Gay News and Grinspoon wish neither to encourage or discourage, just to inform in the manner that seems fitting. Another popular regular is the Het of the Month spot. Although we seem to be having quite a run of Hets; in the future we shall be featuring a few notable and ‘infamous’ Gays that hopefully are known and loved by many of you.
One criticism. which was shared by many of you was that issue No. 2 was slanted too much in one direction. This sometimes seems as if it will be inevitable, although we shall constantly strive to keep a fair balance on the news, features etc. that will go into each edition. Please carry on letting us have your reactions to Gay News, no matter how trivial they may seem to you, or how heavily critical they may be of us. Gay News, if it is truely to be your paper needs these reactions, as it does your news, articles and information.
Some people may have found that this issue has taken slightly longer to reach them than will be usual. This is because we have been devoting a lot of time to expanding the outlets for Gay News. As you will see from the reproduced letter from W.H. Smith’s we have been having difficulty in finding a major distributor. Menzies, to date, have not even bothered to reply to the letter sent to them some time ago, asking them if they would be interested in making the paper more freely available. We take it that then answer is no too. I suppose we always knew that this would be the situation. So we have undertaken to distribute the paper ourselves as widely as possible. With your continued help, and the people who are at present stocking or finding new outlets, you should soon find it an easier task to find this newspaper. From this issue onwards we shall print a list of the outlets for Gay News both in and out of London. And to those of you who buy your copy in a gay pub that is friendly to us we will continue to interupt your conversations, drinking and general socialising, although not rudely we hope. Those of us who are selling Gay News in this way wish to thank you for your patience, understanding and encouragement.
Lastly, if there are any aspiring but good drag artists, who would possibly he attracted to turning a West London pub onto drag, could they please get in touch with the Gay Creations Department of Gay News. It would he helpful if you had your own amplifier and other necessary hits and pieces. We look forward to hearing from you, as we do from All of you.
After some very trying times, issue one finally hit the streets, and the first feedback from our would-be readership began. Some of us weren’t too keen on going out to sell the paper ourselves, since there is more than enough work to do in the writing and the preparation of the paper, but the reception almost everywhere was so overwhelmingly friendly that I don’t think any of us will hesitate with this or any future issue.
Of course. there were times when some of us found it a bit trying – like being threatened by a couple of skinheads in Richmond, or being asked “If I buy one can I have you?” (the answer was yes, but the guy didn’t wait!).
People have begun to send in letters, articles, and reviews, whim is really nice and exactly what we hoped would happen – keep up the good work. The number of people dropping into the office has increased, too, which makes life a bit crowded some of the time, but they are often coming to offer help with office work, selling and distribution (all of which is very welcome) as well as just calling in for a chat.
One such visitor was Alan Brien of the Sunday Times, carried into our midst by a whirlwind born of the fleeting press interest in gay small ads, the Spare Rib party, and Jill Tweedie. As those of you who saw his piece in the Sunday Times, 25th June, must have realised, the main topic of conversation was the Radical Feminists in G.L.F. and their behaviour at the Spare Rib party. We both agreed that it was a pity, since most people will now think that Radical Feminism equals Gay Lib, whereas they are only a very small minority on its right wing. Many others in G.L.F. are leaving the movement rather than have these people’s views imposed upon them – on Monday, Harrow local group decided to split from G.L.F. and go it alone under the name “GAY UNITY”: a title which seems to be an appropriate hint to the divisive Rad. Femmes. It appears from what we hear that other groups are considering similar actions.
However, back to the paper. We have now had refusals to stock us from quite a number of bookshops around the country (including an official refusal from W.H. Smith’s on the grounds that we wouldn’t sell fast enough to justify the space we would take up). So we still need you to visit your local bookshops and newsagents as our salesmen, to put these people in touch with us. The more daces you visit the easier it will be for all of us to communicate with each other, and that’s what it’s all about.
One or two people that we met thought the first issue a bit dry, but liked it in spite of that – in fact, the response generally has made the incredible amount of work well worthwhile. Of course, for some it was too radical, for some, too conservative, but you can’t please everybody all of the time. It seems especially difficult to please the Rad. Femmes; since deciding to run the pieces on the Spare Rib party and on what they are doing to G.L.F. generally they have tried to get us to postpone issue two, censor out our opinions of them and generally forget the whole thing. We have made space available in this issue for them to give their version of the events, but at the time of writing this, it has not arrived. It seems unduly hard to make them realise that other people besides themselves have things to say, like the nicer faction of G.L.F. who demonstrated outside the Earls Court pubs. Of course, the Rad, femmes did not support the main body of G.L.F. on this part of Gay Pride week; a prefect example of the selfish way this faction operates.
Anyway, one last thought to leave you with; if you buy the paper from one of the streetsellers in London, the person will most likely be one of us, the editorial collective, so if you’ve anything to say, any articles that other people might like to read, any criticism or encouragement let rip and we’ll do something about it.
See you around.
This is the second issue of Gay News. There is still a long way to go. Gay women do not feature anywhere near enough. There are many areas of the country we do not reach. There is not sufficient money in the kitty to expand either the size of the distribution of the paper. All these things may be remedied in time, but with your involvement the paper will become what you want it to be much faster. We of the collective only ever intended to give you the paper and let you decide what it should become – by writing, subscribing, donating, working with us and eventually supplanting us. But before we go any further we must look at what could stop the paper happening.
The most obvious barrier to the continuance and expansion of the paper is the legal situation. Technically, anything which helps bring gay men into contact with one another can be construed as unlawful, however well-meant the attempt. Any publication which openly discusses sex and sexuality, especially when related to gay men and women, might be judged obscene. It is this which has forced us to abandon, for the time being, our plan to print the story “Shirley Temple Knows”, which we promised you for this issue. It is this which forces us to reiterate that, although we will continue to run a personal ads column, we retain the right to refuse or amend them as we see fit and according to our legal advice. Any ad which states specific sexual tastes is likely to attract unfavorable attention from the law, whilst those which seek only companionship, friendship, or someone to share a flat or holiday, may not. We will take all the precautions we can to ensure that our advertisers are protected.
The second major barrier is, of course, money. We aren’t going to put up our prices or rates unless rising costs force us to, and so it is unlikely that the paper will ever make any significant profit. This means that there will only ever be a limited amount of cash in the kitty with which we can begin to expand the paper and it’s availability. If you think that what the paper is trying to do (by its very existence) – that is, end our isolation from one another and defend our way of life – is worthwhile, then the paper needs to be available over a much wider area than it is now, and it needs a much larger number of pages. And in order to do this we need money, so that the paper can be planned well ahead instead of existing from issue to issue. So this is an appeal for donations, large and small, backers, advertisers, etc., and anything any of you can do to help us find them. We know you’ve been asked for your money thousands of times before – only this time it isn’t so somebody can do something they want to, it is so that you can do something for all of us, for yourselves, all over the country. And that isn’t just a semantic difference.
It would also be incredibly helpful if one of you (at least) would come and join us full-time in order to work almost wholly on getting the paper around the country. There isn’t much money in it worry the name, just enough for survival, so it would have to be a labour of love. Would any lady or gentleman like the job?
Well, here it is, the first issue of Gay News. It is late and we are sorry about that, but we offer the first excuse and apology in the life of Gay News, and sincerely hope it won’t be the first of a long series. During the coming out of the paper almost everything that could go wrong did. To the people who were brave enough to risk their hard-earned cash an a pre-publication subscription, our very heartfelt thanks. Without you it could never have happened, without your help and support there wouldn’t have been a paper at all. For that we are very grateful, for the chance to bring out Gay News. Not just for ourselves, those of us at present working on the paper, but also for the many friends and helpers who have contributed (and put up with us), and the people who were, for a time, part of the genesis of what you are holding in your hand.
Gay News, as you will doubtless tire of hearing and reading after the first few issues, is not our paper, but yours; it belongs to the whole of the gay community. It’s for gay women as well as gay men. for transexuals and transvestites, for anyone with a sexual label but who we like to call “gays of all sexes”. The first issue alone cannot reach as far as it should into the gay community – to do that it needs your help – but in time we hope it will. Those of us involved in the paper, whether we’re still around or no longer into it, have always held to one unifying idea; that it isn’t and never will be enough just to produce a paper for gay people, we could only begin something, in this case the getting together of a newspaper, which would in the end belong to all gays.
In fact, it has often worried us that our action in bringing out Gay News could and possibly would be interpreted as doing something because we thought other people needed it. That’s not it. We feel that, despite legal reform and a certain relaxation in people’s attitudes to sexuality, that nothing much has really changed. It is clear that many gay people are still extremely isolated, many still live restricted lives. We feel that a medium which could help us all to know what we were all doing, which could put us in contact, and be open evidence of our existence and our rights for the rest of the people to see, could help start the beginning of the end of the present situation. And that goes for all of you who buy the paper as well as we who get it together. Maybe that sounds like another way of saying “we think you need it”, but surely it is only a recognition of how people and institutions through lack of tolerance and understanding, still make it difficult for most gay people to openly be themselves, to live their lives without fear of abuse, prejudice, and worse.
After all, gay people are the same as anyone else; whether you are part of the majority or one of the minorities, you are still people, wanting and needing to share news and information about what everyone else is doing, about what is going on among the others who have taken up a similar life-style. And for us especially, there is still a need to dispel and counteract much ignorance and misinformation. So far we seem to have accepted society’s definition of us as something that’s not very nice, to be seen perhaps but not heard. Isn’t that a little crazy? We are all people with our lives, our hopes, our fears and expectations for what life has in store for us. The beautiful, loving times, the not so joyous moments – this is what we are, and more – and isn’t that simply people? And to be isolated from what goes on in the world around us is not only wrong, it shows up some dangerous cracks in the society we live in.
So a few of us got together just before Christmas 1971, having come to the conclusion that a first step to rectifying this situation would be the creation of a newspaper, to provide news and entertainment, and a forum for all gays. By entertainment, we mean things that can be laughed at and enjoyed – we hope that Gay News will never be so completely serious that no-one could smile, laugh, or maybe happily cringe at parts of it. News is not only the bad things that can happen to us all, but knowing about what others are doing, sharing and achieving. Information is knowing where and when this is going on, so that if you have a mind to you could share in it. Why should’nt gay people know what each other are doing in whatever place it is, wherever you happen to live? But you can’t share in something you don’t know about.
By March, Gay News had an office, and from then on most of the collective business was carried on from there (not difficult on one side is a porn shop, on the other a pub, which seems to be a peculiarity of small newspaper offices in London). The main job then and through April was to let as many people as possible know of our intentions and to start to raise the capital to put the paper on a more definite basis. We wrote to many well-known and monied gays, asking for help and support, but unfortunately the response was rather small. But the subscriptions rolled in, and with the generous help of a few individuals the paper began to take shape.
The collective had now grown to about 15 men and women, some from Gay Liberation Front, some from Campaign for Homosexual Equality, a few worked very hard for Scottish Minorities Group, some were just gay individuals (and some not-so-gay) who felt that Gay News could be the start of something important.
Money has always been a problem, but by April other and possibly more important obstacles had appeared. Some of those involved began to have doubts, about the amount of work involved, about the compromises they would have to make with their own political and alternative ideals. Some of us became bored with this destructive soul-searching and lack of action on practicalities. Some of us despaired at the way in which we seemed so small and isolated a group to attempt the task of pulling together a newspaper, and about the lack of response and general wariness with which the whole venture was being treated, except for the adventurous prepared to risk a subscription and our few but generous contributors. There were a few heated rows, many tears, and a general air of disappointment and frustration. It seemed as though we wouldn’t be able to pull it off after all. So we suspended operations for a while until people made up their minds as to whether they or the paper would go on. In the end we did continue with a smaller collective, and you an holding the result.
We talk, and always will be doing, about the Gay News Collective. By collective, we mean the people who are presently engaged in getting the paper together. There is no editor, art director, sales manager or whatever, we are all equally responsible for everything, and by the same token, no one person is in a position of greater authority than any other. We feel this to be important; if this is to be a paper for all gays, then
Of course, the rows continue, but the situation is far healthier. We had been deceiving ourselves about the amount of work involved, we didn’t know how difficult it all was, but now we must just get on with it to the best of our collective abilities. Despite all that, the paper has become great fun, and looks like being more so in future issues. We can but hope.
it is impossible to lay down a given direction for the paper, and a collective arrangement without positions of authority reflects the flexibility we need and will hopefully have. No one person has any more say than anyone else, whether they are writing, designing, pasting down photographs or whatever. And this collective is completely open-ended; anyone interested enough to want to help produce and continue Gay News is welcome, no matter what their sex, politics, or any other quirks of personality. You’re welcome anyway, even if you want to drop by for a chat and a nose around the office but beware, it isn’t large enough for coach parties.
Gay News is based in London. There isn’t really any element of choice or design about this – London happens to be where most of us live and when we started getting it together. So in spite of the fact that we feel it’s wrong for so many things to be based in London, this is where the paper is produced, printed, and distributed from. But we hope the paper will never become just a London paper, covering only what the capital city is up to. People actively involved with the paper are spread over most of the country, admittedly fairly thinly at the moment, but with your help that will soon change (hint! hint!). Most active centres as far as work on the paper is concerned are Manchester, Edinburgh, and London, with possible developments in Eire and some of the county towns. With your help, we will print more information and news from more areas of the country, and with greater involvement from the homosexual community, Gay News could, can, and will become much more than it is now. This is only when we begin.
However, to return to the saga. May was the most hectic period in the paper’s short life. Printers had to be found, design finally decided upon, all the articles and information that had come to us had to be sorted, and the shape and content of the first few issues planned. We have also had to arrange our own distribution, as our dear friends W. H. Smith and Sons weren’t over anxious to touch us, and distributors like Moore-Harness could not be used because of the cost, but with the help of a friendly bookshop in Brighton we have tied to spread the paper over as much of the country as possible. In the very near future we hope it’ll be easier to get the paper from your local bookshop or in the gay pubs and clubs in your town. And if you have any ideas about a bookshop round your way that might sell us and doesn’t, you have only to drop us a line and we’ll write to him or her.
So far that gives you several things to think about – the news and information that you can send us to print, the letters and comments you have to write so that we know what you think, the bookshop round the comer that might be one more outlet – and that is what we mean when we say it’s your paper. None of there things we can do for you – we an asking you to do them for us. for yourselves, for your paper. Gay News will not have any single viewpoint, nor will it be aligned to any gay movement. It is open to all to use it as a medium of news and expression. We will try, for our part, to be honest and objective about what goes into the paper, and in what we put there ourselves.
Thank you very much for your patience, thank you very much for buying the copy you are reading. From now on it’s all yours. The paper belongs to everyone.