NEWSETTES

Irish Help

DUBLIN: Gays who want to talk about ‘their problem’ in an informal, understanding and ‘constructive’ atmosphere are invited to contact the Legion of Mary in Dublin.

The legion which has been running its gay-help group for about five years, says the majority of those it’s helped have found it useful.

It stresses that the group is non-denominational and that all problems are treated in confidence.

The contact number for the Legion is (01) 776083, any evening between 8pm and 10pm.

Poison Ivy

MORECAMBE: The Morecambe Visitor, the weekly paper that’s biting its editorial fingernails and waiting for the CHE conference, ran an amazing letter from the Rev Frank Ockenden.

The Rev Frank quoth: “Homosexuality, like prostitution, is a moral disease, which society may at best only contain, but for its good must endeavour to prevent or cure.

“To condemn the practice does not necessarily imply the condemnation of its victims. Being Holy, God condemns all sin, and has said so, but being also Love, He has provided salvation from it in his Son Jesus Christ. This includes all homosexuals, and makes irrelevant any campaign for equality.”

Then in slammed the Corrs of Lancaster, lambasting the Rev Frank, who (incidentally) lives at Ivy Cottage, Arkhole, for would-be correspondents.

The Corrs – Bill and his wife Anna – blasted away in fine style: “Since the majority of people in this country are no longer practicing Christians the advice of the Rev Ockenden and his fellow minsters of religion would be heeded only by those who share their respective faiths.

“Homosexuality ought to rank equal in the eyes of the law with heterosexuality so far as age of consent, marriage and so on are concerned.

“At the moment homosexual men (the law does not recognise that female homosexuality exists, oddly enough) exist in a legal minefield.

“Naturally all that this would mean is that the gap between the law of the land and Mr Ockenden’s theology would be at liberty to denounce homosexuality as a sin to anyone prepared to pay any attention.”

The Rev Frank is a loner in the realms of backwoods revivalism. His Arkholme Evangelical Church broke away from the Lancaster Methodist Circuit about two years ago, because the Lancaster Methodists were having dealings with members of other churches.

Since then the Rev Frank has been wearing the top dog-collar at Arkholme and master-minding Munich style rallies of revivalist religion. Even the Rev Ian Paisley chickened out of one invite the Martin Luther of Poison Ivy Cottage sent him.

John Pointless Ross

LONDON: The Evening News’ man-for-all-occasions, John Pointer Ross, managed to get a swipe at gays into his January 19 column for the more boring of London’s evening papers.

Along with Ross’ ‘thoughts’ on crime and punishment, drug-addiction, a farm-worker from Brighton who has sired 17 children and the price of beef – Ross was never the first with an idea – we got this gem: “CHE, in case you didn’t know, stands for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.

“They wanted to hold a conference for their members. The usual resorts where conferences are normally held have turned them down.

“The homosexuals seem surprised. Are you?”

But the Fleet Street hacks don’t all think the same way. Readers may remember Des Wilson as the man who cared about the homeless. Now he’s returned to his first love, journalism.

From his perch on top of his regular column in The Observer, Des Wilson observed: “Weymouth and other seaside towns (including, I gather, Morecambe) have certainly shown why a Campaign for Homosexual Equality is needed. The ignorance and prejudice reflected in some towns’ responses have been incredible.”

Normal Homosexuals

From the tons of newsprint produced every day we present this excerpt from the Evening Post (Luton):

Question: Can you be a homosexual and still be normal in other ways?

Answer: Most certainly. But that’s not to say that all homosexuals are otherwise normal.

The same applies, of course, to those who favour the opposite sex.

Chaplain Charged

LEEDS: The Church of England chaplain at Wakefield prison was released on bail by Leeds magistrates after he had appeared before them charged with ‘indecently assaulting’ a policeman in a public lavatory.

The Rev George who is said to have assaulted PC Gordon in a cottage in Marsh Lane, Leeds, was remanded on £25 bail. The police did not object.

He will appear before the magistrates again on March 6.

Arrant Nonsense

I am writing in outrage at the recent item from the “Evening News”. It appeared in the column of the (?noble) Lord Arran.

I have in my time read a not inconsiderable amount of material concerning “our” world and could fairly say that this particular jeremiad on the emergence of the gay scene is only describable as ArranT (sic) nonsense.

For years gay people have been harried and hassled; in the past by blackmailers, and currently by certain elements in the police.

As regards the latter, of course, the practice of entrapment (inducing someone to commit an unlawful act, and then arresting him for it) is far less rampant in the UK than elsewhere (viz. USA). It’s just unfortunate that certain cottages in London seem presently to be the nightly haunt of those fuzz who delight in ‘nicking’ gays.

THE EDITOR of a “gay” magazine sends me a copy. He says rather pathetically “I don’t expect you will approve.” I don’t. But you could say it was all my fault.

One nostalgic piece from an elderly gentleman is revealing. He writes “We ... looked forward to the day we would be legal just like the Jews await the Messiah”

“Now it is all legal, gay plays, gay films, gay Lib. I sometimes wonder are we really any better off? Perhaps it is just distance lending enchantment, but those were the days my friends ...” 

This bears out what people have told me that some of the homosexuals used positively to enjoy the risks. Some perhaps, certainly not all.

However, to return to my original theme, the noble Lord seeks to condemn – in just a few scanty paragraphs – the fact that gays are coming out, and not skulking furtively in the shadows of a limited number of “gay bars” He wonders if we are really better off in these times of gay plays, films, etc. Well, why should an individual not be liberated? Just because I prefer to go to bed with a boy rather than a girl, why should that make me — or any of us – unacceptable to society at large?

Arran quotes the reaction of an “elderly gentleman”; is this really valid in regard to the gay scene as a whole today? There always have been, and will be, closet queens: if they choose to be so that is up to them.

The article concludes by stating yet again that old, old (oh, so very old) chestnut about some gays “used positively to enjoy the risks” (ie prior to the 1967 Act).

Apart from a very minor few masochistic types who thrive vicariously on possible danger, such a statement is lamentable only by its crass stupidity. Not only that, it also displays a fundamental lack of knowledge of how most gays think, of how they wish to be integrated into society and not treated as outcasts or different.

Take two boys walking down the street holding hands. OK, I know not everyone wants to do this. But even so, one has always at the back of one’s mind the thought of reactions.

I am in the process of producing a detailed study on the “International Times” case, which I hope to present to “Gay News” when it has been completed and considered by a barrister.

Just one little quote relating to my comments re holding hands (which apply equally to kissing or any displays of affection) arising out of my researches into the I.T. case. In a House of Commons debate on 2nd August, 1972, on the subject of the I.T. prosecution, Mr William Hamling who had raised the matter, quoted (*) from the book by Lord Devlin ‘The Enforcement of Morals’ as follows:-

“If. . . two men were to be similarly charged with flaunting their relationship in public, a jury might be expected … to convict.”

I can only conclude by saying that, according to legal advice which I have very recently received, the above quotation still applies today, here and now, 1967 Act notwithstanding.

Let us try to do something to alter this unhealthy state of affairs.

Love to all – gay IS good,

Stevie Williams

(*) Hansard (Commons) Vol. 842: No 170, at c. 922