All Quiet on the Fulham Front

19721001-04FULHAM: More than 350 gays, of all sexes, turned up for the latest in the Gay Liberation Front’s series of dances at Fulham Town Hall — and all was peace and love, instead of the queer-bashing of a few weeks ago.

There were no reports of disturbances either during or after the dance, although the town hall had been the scene of ugly violence some weeks back.

Maurice of Gay Lib’s London office said:

“It was just beautiful – just how we wanted it. There was no hustle at all. Everybody enjoyed themselves and the dance was open to everybody who wanted to come”.

Even if “straights” were allowed in, the majority of the crowd at the peaceful dance were gay. In the words of the Shepherds Bush Gazette – whose prose style will never be equalled – “Wearing all kinds of conventionally outrageous costumes, including long evening dresses and black fishnet body stockings, gay young men danced with one another to the accompaniment of records to suit all tastes.

“Many of the youngsters had travelled in their gay garb on the Underground, but the police said there had been no trouble.

“It seems these gatherings are having their desired effect of dispelling many of the inhibitions that gay people have.”

Right on SBG, welcome to the world.

The next GLF dance is on October 6 at Fulham Town Hall.

“You’re no Trouble, it’s Just these Kids with Nothing To Do”

04-197208XX 03London Gay Lib’s last dance before the summer break was held at Fulham Town Hall on July 28. There were no arrests, no scenes in the street, and only one small incident inside the hall, when a small group of youths tried to walk in without tickets at about 10.45 pm.

Organisers and management staff reasoned with the ring-leaders, who seemed ready to back down, until one of them lost his temper and pushed a Gay Lib steward. A brief but vicious fight took place between this youth and a roadie from one of the groups, who seemed ready to use more force than the situation demanded. No gays were involved, and they were quickly separated.

The group of youths was escorted out by hall staff, and the management called the police, but this action was nothing to do with the dance organisers. “We wouldn’t call the police” said a GLF steward. “We don’t want anything to do with them.”

“You people are no trouble at all,” commented a member of the staff. “You just want to enjoy yourselves. It’s just these kids with nothing to do. They think they’re being big.”

Gay News asked if other dances attracted similar trouble. “Only the coloured people we used to have here. They had fights among themselves, which you don’t have, and the local yobs used to come round outside. Of course, we had to ban the coloured dances in the end. It would be a shame if that happened to you lot.”

The 300 gays at the dance on Friday would agree, especially as the music and atmosphere were considered by many “the best for a long time”.

Small groups of teenagers were hanging about on the corners and outside Fulham Broadway station at 11.30 pm, but were not to be seen when everyone left promptly at 12.00 pm. There was no trouble, although a panda car and a black maria were well in evidence.

The next dance is scheduled for September 1, at Fulham – let’s hope that the apparently improved situation will be maintained.

Increasing Violence Against Gays

“What Are We Going To Do About It?”

03-197207XX-04Gay Lib hold regular dances in London, and most of them nowadays are at Fulham Town Hall. They are openly advertised and open to all and this combination of factors has led to troubles which may mean the end of dances at Fulham.

The trouble has been caused by local louts who seem to think that queer-bashing and baiting is a fun way to round off an evening out. At the last two dances there have been bunches of them hanging around outside, especially towards the end of the dance and attempts have been made to dissuade them from causing trouble, but without success. In part this would seem to be a result of the tacit support they receive from the local police.

One guy in drag is standing at the entrance to the hall when some of these kids come by and start to make fun of him. “You a fellah? Show us your cock then!” So, entering into the spirit of things, he does. They then try to start a fight because he flashed his cock in front of ‘their’ girls (jealous, perhaps?).

Later on, same evening. Two guys leave hand in hand. From across the road a group jeers and one or two of them throw things. It looks as if they might attack. So our intrepid twosome take the offensive, and chase them off, brandishing milk bottles. As the group disappears, they turn back and head for the station, returning the bottles to their crate. Very shortly after this, they are arrested by the ever-vigilant local constabulary for possessing offensive weapons.

Meanwhile, on the station platform, another guy has been attacked by a different group of boys.

The following week the attitude of the police becomes clearer. Once again there are groups of little ‘toughs’ hanging round outside the hall. With the previous weekly incidents in mind, someone calls the police to move them away. A squad car, complete with uniformed inspector, arrives and shoos them away. They then park discreetly nearby. Three guys leave for the station, and as they cross the road, the gang reappears. Two run, one of them decides to make a stand; he receives one severely blacked eye, and a cut needing four stitches just under the other. One of the gang has a sleeve torn from his coat, another, a lapel. At this late stage, the same squad car reappears, and the gang hastily departs. The police display their usual zeal in pursuing the formalities but do not pursue the gang. “Oh, it’s another gay dance – we always have trouble at these gay dances” . . . . . . and asking the guy who has blood mining down his face “It’ll have to be a clearer description than that!” They are about to leave when the opportunity for the clearest description possible arises – the gang reappears. They are pointed out to the police, who question them, but let them go. “They say they just off a bus.” – in spite of their clearly damaged clothing. The police then leave, and our friend goes to hospital to have his face stitched.

In order to make sure the coast is clear, someone takes a walk to make sure the gang has gone. They haven’t gone very far they – and apparently laughing and joking with the policemen. In anger he shouts out to the effect that ‘these pigs are supposed to protect people, and here they are having a laugh with the ones who caused all the trouble’. In a flash he is surrounded by policemen, and arrested for insulting behaviour and breach of the peace – surrounded by so many policemen that they can’t all fit into the squad car, and some of them are detailed to hoof it back to the station.

So that leads on to a few questions. To the police – “Who’s side are you on?” And to the gay community generally – “What are we going to do about it?”

Gay Pride Weekend

03-197207XX-05

Gay Pride Grande Ball, Fulham Town Hall.

  1. Arriving at the Ball.
  2. Protection from bomb-scare and skinheads?
  3. “Is that Gay News?”

Gay Pride Rally in trafalgar Square; the march making its way through the West End streets of London; ending with a Gay Day picnic in Hyde Park.

  1. Just in case!
  2. Ready, Steady, Go………
  3. Speeches underneath Nelson’s Column.
  4. The outset of the march.
  5. Gay Pride isn’t just for men.
  6. “Smile please.”
  7. Smiles along Charing Cross Road.
  8. Keeping the audience back.
  9. Relaxing in Hyde Park.
  10. Repairing the afternoons damage.

Fulham, Stucco and Drag

02-197206XX 4Gay Pride week got off to a friendly but not very inspiring start with a dance at the Fulham Town Hall – all thirties glass and stucco. The hall was responsible for the poor sound – it was either too loud or inaudible – and so the first group deafened me whilst Rupert Herries gentle songs were lost. In the former case, it would have helped if the hall had been full, but, alas, the attendance was only fair.

The most noticeable feature of the evening was the quality and quantity of guys in drag, from those who took themselves very seriously and were got up in variations on a theme by Mae West/Yvonne de Carlo or even a sort of Drag Valentino in a velvet mirrorwork gown, on through the dollybird to a sort of Gert-and-Daisy character in a print shift, woolly socks and hush puppies (not to mention the hairy, stockingless legs and the three-day growth). Major entertainment of the evening for me was watching one guy lifting his skirt and hauling down his tights in order to join we poor trouserbound males at the urinal. But I do wish that the people in make-up had made up their minds too – most attempts at combining thirties vamp and Cherokee warpaint are doomed to failure, I’m afraid.

It was O.K. as dances go, certainly more fun than the last, and I’m quite sure a few of the town hall staff were given considerable food for thought. It’s a pity more people from outside GLF weren’t there – still, never mind, eh?