An angry reader wrote to Time Out (London’s weekly entertainment guide) complaining that while viewing ‘Dulcima’ and ‘Family Life’ at the Biograph cinema in Wilton Road, Victoria, no less than eight different men sat next to him, and there was a constant stream of visitors to the toilet. All this coming and going caused such a disturbance that he had to ask for the soundtrack volume to be turned up. He knows, he says, of the cinema’s reputation, but those who don’t “are in for a bit of a shock”. He’s willing to help establish a gay cinema, on the lines of those in New York, as the “goings on” in the Biography will not help the straight world accept gays.
The Biograph, London’s oldest cinema, is well known among gays as a trolling place and sexual outlet; a great deal of mutual masturbation allegedly goes on in the cinema.
But it is not a gay cinema as such, since its usually good programmes are advertised continuously in the London evening papers, “Time Out” etc, and because most heterosexuals are embarrassed by public sexual display and presumably want to watch a film, without having to get up every few seconds to let someone else pass, a visit to the Biograph is obviously going to heighten any anger or misgivings they might have about homosexuals.
However, many gays who go to the Biograph, cannot for one reason or another, take their pick-ups home, and even if they can, where else is there to procure a sexual partner? Basically, in police entrapped lavatories or Earls Court pubs, and while peoples’ behaviour in pubs and clubs is more “acceptable”, they are not necessarily happy places.
The Biograph has a lower admission price (25p) than any cinema in London, and is always crowded, because of its “reputation”, without which it would probably have closed years ago. It exists because society refuses to accept homosexuals on the same terms as heterosexuals, who broadly speaking, can take boy/girl friends home and can kiss and cuddle in any public place. Homosexuals are forced into dark ghettos like the Biograph, which reinforces the idea in our minds that we are second class citizens and must hide our sexuality away, in between the occasional hurried experiences in the dark.
The creation of a completely gay cinema would not really change attitudes for the better on either side, but as in the gay saunas in Amsterdam, it would mean that we could troll undisturbed and without harrass-ment; but we would just be creating another ghetto. Straights will not have the chance to accept or reject us, because they will be more oblivious of our existence.
Whatever we do to improve our situation, whether it involves the creation of a gay cinema, or organisations such as CHE or GLF, it seems to perpetuate our separation and lack of contact with society at large, which would seem to demand, as a condition of acceptance, that we live their life style. In other words retire monogamously to the suburbs, and hide our sexuality behind the net curtains.