Editorial

We live in a democracy. It means we’re free to do and say what we like – and that’s official. But the way society is run might tempt cynics to say that British democracy means we have the right to do and say what the state and certain self-appointed arbiters of behaviour ordain.

The 1967 Sexual Offences Act – which made gay love “legal” – specifically excludes members of the armed forces from equality with other gays, already a minority unequal with “straight” society.

At least the law spells out the ground rules even if they are, undoubtedly, wrong. For instance laws that limit gay sex to those not in the armed forces, over 21 and in two’s, in private are clearly indefensible because they make us unequal with the rest of society.

The main failing of the law, as it stands at present, is that it does not give gays the legal equality, however grudging, that black people must receive.

But far more oppressive than open harassment and legal inequality for blacks and gays alike is the sinister form of silent censorship that Gay News and all the gay organisations experience.

The Campaign for Homosexual Equality came up against the Angry Silence twice earlier this year when it was trying to fix the place for its first annual conference. Both Weymouth and Morecambe fought shy of having fairies al the end of the pier.

Recently CHE won a victory by managing to lay a wreath to the Unknown Gay Soldier at the Cenotaph in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday. When almost any old ex-Servicemen’s Club and association representing those who allow themselves to be ruled by traitors — that is, Rhodesia – are allowed to lay wreaths, the inequality of not allowing the Gay Liberation Front to lay just such a wreath last year shrieks of a society where the homosexual is not equal even with traitors in the view of the elite law-forming body, Parliament.

Gay News has troubles with the Angry Silence in many directions and they have taken a new turn of late.

We’re used to news wholesalers and retailers such as Smiths, Menzies and Selfridges, joining in the elitist freezing out of gays. And you’re used to reading about our distribution problems by now.

The latest bizarre turn in this “free-speech” state is the Evening Standard’s refusal of an advertisement for a sex-education movie quoting Gay News.

The man at the Standard told Cobra Films’ representative that the paper wouldn’t mind running the ad if only they would quote a “respectable film critic, tor instance Alexander Walker”.

Once again the Standard has shown that whilst it will use the word ‘gay’ in headlines to sell the paper, it will not countenance the fact that gays live, are organised and have their own newspaper.

The ad-man at the Standard said that the GN crit of Cobra-1 was “near-pornography”

He is entitled to his views, but the Standard should print views it does not agree with, as the press should leave its columns open to all sectors of society as Charles Wintour, the Standard’s editor says in his recent book on the press.

Indeed, many of us feel that the views put forward as the paper’s official policy – in its leaders — and other right-wing pontifications carried in its pages are pornographic.

Mr Wintour is responsible for all the opinions expressed in the Evening Standard, including the writings of the “respectable” Alexander Walker, who was brought to the Standard by Godfrey Winn who discovered him in Brighton.

Many of the views put forward by the Standard work towards an elitist society and towards eroding free speech so that a schoolteacher may not be gay – and honest – and keep his job (GN11).

They are promoting a society where a lie is preferable to the truth. And that really is pornographic. In strictly legal terms it’s liable to deprave and corrupt the ‘Bristows’ of this world. If that’s democracy at work, no wonder so many of the more radical gays see the fight for gay equality as part of a much bigger and economic change in society.

But we at GN are used to being excluded from the press. Time Out – to whom we are grateful for many things — would not publish our ad which mentioned the personal ads in the back of GN on the advice of their legal eagle.

The silent censorship of the Cobra Films ad by the Evening Standard shows that society is not willing to accept a gay newspaper as a genuine newspaper – and it follows that if Gay News isn’t accepted as a paper by our fellow journalists, no gay can expect to be treated as anything but a curio by Charles Wintour and others like him who affect the way the power-holding elite think – no individual gay or gay organisation.

Sssch-Press Silence

LONDON: A sex-education movie that may be bought by the Inner London Education Authority may not be advertised in the Evening Standard, because Cobra Films who made the movie want to quote the criticism of Cobra-1 that appeared in Gay News.

Cobra-1, also called etcetcetc, approaches the subject of sex from a standpoint that values relationships higher than “the perfect position” for a couple.

When Cobra Films booked the space in the Standard the advertisement department could see no objection to running the ad.

But when Geoff Richards, formerly of the Electric Cinema Club in Portobello Road, which gave Cobra-1 its premiere, took the copy for the ad along to the Standard, he was told by the assistant advertisement manager that the Gay News criticism was “near-pornography”. The man at the Standard suggested that Cobra should find a “respectable film critic to quote — like Alexander Walker” if it wanted to run the advertisement.

But Cobra Films, who maintain that the Gay News criticism (in GN10) was the only crit that approached the movie on its own terms refused to change the wording and would not cut off the by-line tag: “Peter Holmes, Gay News.”

The result is that no advertisement for Cobra Films’ first movie appeared in the Standard. The shareholders of Beaverbrook Newspapers are the losers.

The Boys In The Bank

NEW YORK/LONDON: Gays are coming in for some strange slaggings from the press. A rash of gay gunmen seems to be spreading almost as fast as Arab terrorists. In the first place, fresh evidence suggests that John Wojtowicz, the “gay” gunman in the Flatbush, New York, raid that started it all, who was not shot by the police, was a Mafia gunman anyway.

Originally John and Salvatore Naturale were said to have raided the Chase Manhattan Bank in Flatbush, Brooklyn, after being tipped off by someone they met in a gay bar that there was going to be $200,000 there.

In fact the $200,000 was taken from the bank almost four hours before John and Naturale raided the place, leaving about $29,000 in the vaults.

So the “gay” gunmen grabbed what cash there was and the staff when police cars screeched up, summoned by secret signals.

That was when the ordinary, everyday Brooklyn bank-raid became a curio for the world’s press. For, despite Salvatore Naturale’s denial that he was gay, the raid was dubbed “Gay Gunmen” by the world’s press because John demanded that his gay spouse Ernest Aron was released from mental hospital, as one condition of the raiders’ setting free the bank employees.

Ernest was brought along by the cops, looking a lot the worse from having just recovered from an overdose of sleeping tablets, and the hormones he’d been taking in preparation for the sex-change operation he’s promised himself.

The question remains: what was a gay Vietnam war veteran doing holding up a bank in Flatbush N.Y.?

Captain Nemo of I.T. suggests that the Mafia, who have had a running battle with the Chase Manhattan Bank used John to carry out its latest raid on the bank.

In fact, Nemo alleges that it was when Ernest found that the Mafia had sent John one of the guns used in the raid that he took the sleepers.

The Mafia boss said to be behind it all was Mike Umbers, the mob’s head of exploitation of gays. The senior Mafia men behind the raid should have got $75,000 to $100,000. The rest should have gone to the five bank-robbers, three of whom chickened out.

The “gay gunmen” raid leaves gays in New York wondering just how the whole caper relates to gay liberation and what they can do about the fact that virtually every New York gay bar is controlled by the Mafia.

Meanwhile London gays are angry at the Evening Stadard’s follow-up gay raid headline.

The Standard reported that four men snatched several thousand pounds from Barclays Bank, Knightsbridge Green.

The paper’s story mentioned that one of the bank-raiders wore pink gloves.

The headline was “Gay bandits raid bank” There was no mention made in the story of the raiders’ sexual preferences, only of their taste in gloves.

Much love and thanks to International Times – whoops, I.T., for allowing us to pinch their scoop.

Editorial

04-197208XX 02As you will see on page three, Gay News went to the House of Commons to discuss the House of Lords’ decision in the International Times case with MPs and other interested people. Immediately the formal meeting ended, the seated rows broke up into absorbed small groups talking over all the aspects of the subject. These informal discussions went on until closing time in the St. Stephens Tavern, and Gay News talked to everyone. “This”, said the MP who organised the meeting, “is the real value of all these gas-works get-togethers.”

He is right — there was a thousand times more real communication in these informal talks than in the whole ‘get-the-attention-of-the-chairman-if-you-can-game’ we all sat through first. The important question is – why waste time playing these games? Apart from speech-making addicts, professional chairmen, and people who ease their liberal consciences by attending meetings and sitting silent, who really thinks that anything worthwhile is achieved by the submitting-your-question-in-proper-form game, or that old fun-trip, going-through-the-proper-channels?

Gay News tries to play only the minimum number of these games, those essential to getting the paper out – with the bank, for example, and the GPO. (Have you played what-to-do-if-your-telephone-is-being-tapped? Can anyone tell us the rules?) We deal as efficiently as possibly with these conventional business procedures, because the paper must be printed, paid for and distributed, but we waste no time on ‘correct’ business procedures, and even less on ‘correct’ business people, who seem to think it essential that a letter should sit on their desks for weeks before being attended to. Gay News belongs to everyone who reads it and works for it – and we make the decisions.

The point is that we think as individuals, and work as a group, without outside control. This gives us a ready answer to a recent Evening Standard editorial, referring to the printers’ strike (issue July 28): “What is the matter with the newspaper industry? Why was it not only the first but the only industry to shutdown for five days at a time of grave national crisis? Why do so many people who work in this industry – the highest paid in the country – seem to care so little about their work and their role in society that they are ready to withdraw their labour with such apparent indifference to the effects of their actions? … The loss of goodwill to the papers was vast, as advertisers and readers alike were driven to another means of communication.” We know what our work is; we chose it. And our role in society, whatever it is, is not that of a small cog in a large profit-making machine. And that last sentence quoted answers the Standard’s own question: what is wrong with the industry is that the advertisers come first, the money men – before the readers, and way ahead of those who actually do the work, including in most instances the journalists as well as the print workers.

As a fortnightly paper, we were not affected by the strike – (it was nice to see a paper rack in a straight newsagents displaying Gay News prominently, in the space usually occupied by The Times!). We may even have reached a few unsuspecting non-gay people: “Gay News No. 3? I’ll take double this time, love,” said a friendly newsman in High Street Ken. “Sold out the last one – well, people had to read something!” Sales of issue three are already up on the previous two – how long before we can increase our print order? We need more subscribers, more outlets, more workers, and more money, but we’re here, and we’re busy communicating. Every time you buy a copy, every letter and article you send us is part of the individual communication pattern we are building. Everyone we talk to about the gay world, every story we research, is another step towards breaking the barriers which keep gay people in hiding and the rest of the world in ignorance of the truth about homosexuals. It is on this level, with individuals telling it like it is, that progress is being made towards liberation (in the true sense of the word, not just as a slogan).

We know, too, that we must live with the imperfect present situation – one day, we won’t need to find each other through personal ads, but as things are now, this kind of contact is the only way for many gays. This is why we carry small ads, and we shall continue to do so. Another handicap we must fight is the different fears we all have of one kind or another. Some gays cannot tell their families; many fear police harassment, or victimisation at work; the activities of gay libbers who have ‘come out’ scare a lot of people, while those who are ‘out’ face daily hostility from the ignorant and cruel (who are often frightened and unsure of themselves). What we must learn and learn to rely on as a community, is that we have weapons with which to defend ourselves; there are ways of educating ourselves and those who misunderstand us; and, with a lot of help from our friends, the obstacles in our path can be overcome. The success or failure of Gay News depends on the individuals involved in the paper, and we all know it – how about extending this belief in individual responsibility and group co-operation to a few more of the situations we as homosexuals have to face? No one is ever going to find an easy solution to the problems of conditioning and ignorance which we face, and no doctors, or sociologists, or MPs, will ever solve the problems for us. We are the people who know the truth and, difficult though it is, we must make the attempt to communicate it.

Obviously, you can’t do things you are not into, and every individual must decide on his or her own action – but we must work out where we are at, together, and act accordingly if we are to remove the labels put on us by others, and win the freedom to which we are entitled. Perhaps our aim is similar to one stated by Jung: “to bring about a state in which v everyone) begins to experiment with his own nature – a state of fluidity, change and growth, in which there is no longer anything eternally fixed and hopelessly petrified”.

The 1967 Confidence Trick (2)

02-197206XX 3(from page 3)

into doubt all the good work achieved by people who have no connection with obscene publications, but whose first desire is to create a caring and happy society. Fresh legislation is now imperative in the light of this recent development. – I am etc.
IAN C. DUNN, Chairman,
Scottish Minorities Group.

From The Evening Standard, 26th June, 1972.

 

NOW – A GAY PRIDE DEMO

Sir: Milton Shulman’s article ‘Dockers and Homosexuals’ accurately portrays the effects of the recent Appeals decision. Any ordinary person who has been involved in a trial cannot fail to be astounded at how out of touch with present reality most judges seem to be.

What the I.T. decision does is to put many persons, including myself, in peril of arrest, trial and umprisonment. On July 1, there will be a GayPride Demo in Trafalgar Square. The purpose of this clearly is to advocate homosexual practice for homosexuals and to protest against the continued oppression of homosexuals in our society, the 1967 Act notwithstanding. I, and other gay people will continue to defy this absurd law. To be arrested for advocating legal activity is something only a judge would appear not to find ludicrous. Let Parliament speedily remedy the situation or vote money to house a rapidly expanding prison population.

Warren Hague (address supplied)

 

The Guardian, 19th June, 1972

HOMOSEXUALS IN ISOLATION

Sir,
The law acknowledges the right of homosexuals to make love. By rejecting IT’s appeal, the House of Lords continues to support the law’s illogical refusal to allow homosexuals to meet. There an no circumstances under which they can meet. Not in the streets, which is importuning; not in properly conducted social clubs because none is allowed to exist.

Such repression encourages recourse to a few dubious pubs and furtive drinking clubs that cater for homosexuals; it encourages desperate efforts to make contact in public with the consequent risk of police prosecution. It encourages the growth of increasingly militant homosexual organisation. It throws and is throwing, an increasingly large burden on the Samaritans and other social service groups – the only people that the isolated homosexual knows he can turn to.

To use the Ladies Directory case (a list, I understand, of prostitutes) as a precedent for dealing with ordinary homosexual people is appalling enough. But their Lordships decision represents a major piece of discrimination against a section of the community that i,. numerically, larger than our coloured population. The House of Lords was dealing with one underground newspaper; their decision affects the very real needs of isolated people all over the country.
Yours faithfully,
ROGER BAKER
Flat F. 23 Great James Street
London WC1.

 

THE EVENING STANDARD
20th June, 1972.

GAY ADVERTISING

With regard to your news story (June 14) Lords in Clash on Gay Advert, I and the members of the Gay News, would like to point out that we will be carrying personal advertisements for gays of all sexes. We consider it the right of homosexuals to advertise in this way if they so wish, and can see no earthly reason why gays should not be able to do the same as heterosexuals. Hopefully, one day it will not be necessary for any people, no matter what their sexual preference, to advertise in this way. Until gays an free from the isolation imposed on them by society and people in general are released from the misguided taboos that surround sex and sexuality. Gay News will carry personal ads, no matter what the penalty.

Gay News is a national fortnightly paper for gay men and women and will he available this week. – DENNIS LEMON, Gay News, 19 London Street, W.2.