Something Nasty In The Non-Fiction

LONDON: It’s hardly surprising that the majority of libraries in Great Britain refuse to carry gay newspapers or magazines when you consider the sort of bigoted attitude that emerged in a letter to the Librarians’ Association Record in the latter part of last year.

John Noyce, who writes a column on magazines librarians might be interested in, for another paper, the Assistant Librarian, innocently said: “As usual, the British alternative press papers seem to be following their American counterparts. The general papers are in difficulties – Seven Days and Ink gone, Frendz and IT are in financial troubles – but the sectional papers grow ever more numerous.”

Then he listed Spare Rib, and Gay News, along with GIN, Lunch, SMG News, Arena Three and Sappho.

Little did he know there was something pretty vicious waiting in the non-fiction section. A librarian wrote in to say: “In the August issue of Assistant Librarian, a contributor lists for our special benefit or enlightenment (I’m nor sure which) an extraordinary catalogue of recent outlandish periodicals, the very latest from the front line of the sexual revolution, suitable, perhaps, for educated perverts and emancipated Bohemians, as well as Lesbian librarians with doubts about their masculinity, and, of course, any pouffes-in-boots and beyond-the-fringe eccentrics floating around the outer reaches of cosmopolitan professional librarianship, but to the membership at large, of no use, one would have thought, whatsoever, unless, in the present phase of cultural pollution, we are to be credited with the same tastes.” And so he goes on. And on. Quoting George Bernard Shaw and T S Eliot. He’s read them!

With a wonderful old-fashioned hatred like that, a man could get a job with the Festival of Light.

Who’s Kidding Who?

“They called him Danny La Rue, because in drag he looks as long as a street,” whines the chatty little journalist in Film Review, published by the EMI Film and Theatre Corporation, who are also responsible for the distribution of Our Miss Fred, Danny La Rue’s entry into the mindless world of telly orientated cinema. The film is liberally sprinkled with an array of “dirty” jokes designed to make fifty-four year old disgusted Mr and Mrs Fred Nudge masochistically ‘Tch, tch’ in the rear stalls of the ABC Purley.

Technically well directed by Bob Kellet and beautifully photographed by Dick Bush, the film appears on the surface to be a mild piece of entertaining whimsy, with Danny as a small time actor, possibly this is the only element of realism in the film, who is conscripted into the army during World War Two and is sent to France to keep the lads happy and gay with his drag act. While in mid-performance his platoon is captured by the Germans who set him free, believing him to be a civilian woman. Shades of St Trinians follow as he falls in with a butcher than butch Lally Bowers leading a bunch of blue stocking schoolgirls to safety from cocks and Nazis. In the true tradition of hackneyed British comedy prose, he fancies the girls and has to be acutely embarrassed when believing him to be yet another unsullied virgin from next door, he gets asked to unzip that awkward clasp at the back of someone’s dress. Of course being a good green blooded English lad, even when he’s wearing his straight all-male clobber, he goes a bright shade of pink at the very mention of the word thingy, because underneath it all, he’s a yellow bellied, clean living heterosexual, who’s never got nearer to the sex act than a few good double entendres in the Rose and Crown on a Saturday night. In pursuit there’s also notoriously anti-gay actor/comedian, Alfred Marks (do you ever listen to “Does the Team Think?”) as a German general, who, guess what, fancies Fred or as he’s now calling himself, Frederica. So off they all go in a rickety old car trying to make their way to the Channel, with Fred continually murmuring, between innuendos: “When I get my trousers back on, they’re on for life.” But he’s putting up with it all for dear old England.

What is really disturbing about the film is the general suggestion that the character must hate wearing drag, because otherwise he’d be homosexual and undesirable, and most of the funny lines are based on this idea. Danny La Rue, whenever he’s interviewed by the Press on on TV, and that’s pretty often, goes to great pains to deny he’s a homosexual, and to suggest that it’s all a big laugh, a kind of novelty glamour act, and all the lads call him ‘Dan’. This is lapped up by the viewers who either believe it, or being British, delight in his hypocrisy, laugh heartily at his act, and shrink back in fear if they see a transvestite in the street. Those who believe him think he is aping the way homosexuals behave and that we all dress up in women’s clothes. Many gays adore him, for his luxurious attire, which is well displayed in the film, obviously made very much with the “gay market” in mind, and his public utterances give them ideal opportunity to gossip on the lines of — “Of course he lives with his mother. So and So saw him in the whats it club last week.”

What I call the real drag acts, people like Marc Fleming and Mrs Shufflewick, who you see in the pubs and clubs, make themselves look as grotesque as possible because they are sending up the whole idea of beautiful women and handsome men. Their jokes are blue and unashamedly homosexual, and by the end of their routine you are plunged into a drunken euphoria, knowing the whole damn beauty conscious world is just a farce. The radical drag queens in London GLF are attempting to express similar ideas, although in a very different way.

I’m not saying that they are not heterosexuals who like wearing drag, but like it or not drag is closely associated with homosexuality in the minds of the public.

Mr La Rue being as much in the limelight as he is, could try to be a bit more honest about his own sexuality and attempt to eradicate some of the misconceptions. Because you’re gay, you don’t necessarily like wearing women’s clothes, and you’re not necessarily a homosexual or a transvestite if you do.

Whatever your sexuality, if it’s not in out, in out heterosexuality, you’re likely to have cheap jibes thrown at you by the telly dictators like Danny La Rue and “The Comedians”, who ultimately shape people’s attitudes.

Why can’t you be constructive, Danny, and use this wonderful opportunity you have to destroy the myths in peoples’ minds, to do something about the maniacal situation, whereby Larry Grayson is the TV personality of the year at our expense, ultimately at your expense.

Monday Club Uses Gays

Picture has been edited as the age of the subject is not clear.A pamphlet is currently circulating around London called The Monday Club: a danger to British Democracy. It is an exposure of this ultra-right-wing group and makes for far from delightful reading. It names names, makes accusations and unearths unsavoury details about the private lives of many well-known Monday Club members and supporters. It is highly libellous, which is, presumably, why it lacks the names of author, printer or publisher.

One particularly interesting section is headed: Fairies at the Bottom of Their Garden and begins: “The homosexual aspect is vital if one is to investigate the intrigue that is going on in and around the Monday Club.”

It continues: “A Poetry Society covered some of these activities and involved a man … who has been in trouble with the police for his gay behaviour. … (he) is far better known as one of the leaders of the one-time Revolutionary Communist Party. Today, this man is able to mix amongst Conservatives, including Members of Parliament, because of his gay friends and now Right-wing political associates.

“It is always observed that homosexuals are bad security risks as they are open to blackmail and other forms of pressure. Certainly it would appear that those Right extremists in the Monday Club are seeing that homosexuals are being placed in positions where they can be influenced at a later date.”

The item goes on to name two such men.

Aversion Therapy ‘Is Like A Visit To The Dentist’

LONDON: The London Medical Group, a medico-Christian group, held a symposium on Thursday November 2. The subject was aversion therapy as part of a two-part course on Punishment and Treatment. The LMG’s meetings are usually open to the public, but this one was unprecedented in being closed to all but doctors and medical students. One gay, Peter Tatchell, went along to the meeting held behind closed doors. This is his account of what happened:

Psychologists Professors Hans Eysenck and Dr Isaac Marks were the speakers at the symposium on Aversion Therapy and the Patient’s Freedom.

Professor Evsenck is of world renown (much favoured in establishment and psychiatric circles) as a leading exponent of aversion therapy. In the numerous books he has written, homosexuals are variously described as perverse, abnormal, unnatural, etc, and associated with criminality. He has consistently advocated the use of aversion therapy for homosexuals and transvestites.

Dr Marks is Senior Lecturer and Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital and is known for his research and application of aversion therapy.

Interesting, because of the subject’s controversial nature and perhaps because the organisers feared disruptions the LMG took the unprecedented step of closing this particular lecture to members of the public.

The whole structure and conduct of the symposium was geared to converting the assembled members of the medical profession to the unquestioning acceptance and advocacy of its use.

Applying the psychological principles of group dynamics to achieve this aim, there were no speakers against aversion therapy – those that spoke in favour of its use being famous psychologists of high repute in the medical profession. Furthermore, these principles were used by the chairman to cultivate a psychological atmosphere that the speakers for aversion therapy were so knowledgable, academically honoured and famous that their opinions could not be questioned. He spent considerable time praising “these great men” and “their outstanding contributions to psychology.”

The successful use of these principles to pacify a potentially hostile audience was evidenced by the medical masses’ hushed awe and humility at “the privilege to be addressed by a psychologist of Professor Eysenck’s renown” – to quote the chairman.

It was from this one-sided structure of the lecture and the mental sterilisation of the audience that the chairman opened with a request for a “provocative evening on this controversial issue.” Little did he know how imminent the literal fulfilment of his request was.

Professor Eysenck began by emphasising that there was “no relationship between aversion therapy and punishment… It does not involve sadistic motivations… Neither does aversion therapy seek to act as a deterrent. The fact is that aversion therapy is used for the patients own good”.

It was at this point that the chairman’s request for a provocative evening was fulfilled when the lone GLF supporter there (me) began a running battle with Prof Eysenck.

Challenging his statement that aversion therapy was used “for the patient’s own good”, I cited cases of people I have met who, since having undergone aversion therapy, have become chronic depressives.

Somewhat taken aback by this dialogue – as opposed to the intended monologue – Prof Eysenck continued: “Aversion therapy is only undertaken where it is of the patient’s own choice.”

Interjecting again, I mentioned the cases of gays who are virtually blackmailed into undergoing aversion therapy when it is offered by the courts as an alternative to prison, and that those who “voluntarily” undergo treatment are “forced” to do so by what they find to be the intolerable oppression of homosexuals by society. Remove the oppression and no gays would ever volunteer.

I also raised the question of homosexuals being induced to “volunteer” by an exaggeration of the success rate and playing down of the pain and discomfort involved.

Nervously continuing. Prof Eysenck outlined the principles of aversion therapy, which he explained, were based on Pavolv’s experiments on conditioned reflexes. He said it was “used to change the emotions, where the person himself cannot change them of his own free will… By associating emotions with pain or fear, the emotional response can be de-conditioned.”

Then he went on to explain how, in the case of homosexuals, nausea was induced by drugs, while the patient viewed film of homosexual acts. Thus, the patient learns to associate homosexuality with pain and fear. He mentioned that “whilst photographs are used, the actual performance of the sex act would be preferable.

He stated that: “There is a success rate of about 50 percent, which justifies its use as much as any other method.”

I challenged him to substantiate his claim of 50 percent success, describing how most homosexuals who have undergone treatment have remained totally uncured and become asexual “vegetables”. I offered these failures as an explanation of the decrease in use of aversion therapy over the past two years.

Prof Eysenck suggested that “50 percent success was better than no success at all.”

I questioned his ends justify the means mentality, and his use of the success rate to justify the continuing of aversion therapy.

He then used the spurious argument that aversion therapy hardly merited people’s concern as it was used so little.

To quieten any fears he reassured his audience that the pain and discomfort is greatly exaggerated and, in fact, “it is just like a visit to the dentist… It is no different from any other form of therapy.” He went on to describe psychoanalysis as far worse than aversion therapy and entailing greater distress to the patient.

Prof Eysenck finished by enthusiastically declaring that “there is no ethical principle involved in aversion therapy that is not involved in any psychological treatment.” (Applause, applause).

The second speaker, Dr Isaac Marks tried to dispel any doubts my interjections may have raised by using a Clockwork Orange-versus-reality approach. He asked how many people had seen ‘A Clockwork Orange’ – most of the audience indicated they had – and then he asked how many had actually seen aversion therapy – three people had. Satisfied that everyone – except those three – was not in a position to question authority, he said that ‘A Clockwork Orange’ was a totally inaccurate portrayal of aversion therapy.

Outlining the circumstances under which the medical profession was entitled to use aversion therapy, he suggested that this should be when the “patient asks for help” or “when society asks to be relieved of the burden of an individual”. This second set of circumstances has the most horrifying implications in that they could be used against any minority incurring social disapproval – not just gays, but also black people and political activists.

To justify this situation he drew a very questionable analogy. He said: “For instance, no-one objects when people with smallpox are quarantined… or that sadists and murderers are removed from society.’ Thus, on the basis of these analogies, he justifies the use of aversion therapy on the individual where it was ‘in society’s interest.’

Unable to allow such a statement to pass unquestioned, I challenged not only his analogies but also the premise which they justify. My demanding to know how homosexuals, transexuals and transvestites could in any way be compared to smallpox, sadists or murderers, plunged the symposium into momentary chaos.

Amidst the uproar I attempted to point out that the use of aversion therapy “in society’s interest” could so easily be abused.

Receiving broadsides from the podium and the audience alike, I was asked to leave by Dr Marks – which I promptly refused to do. Stepping back and returning to his seat he said he would not go on while I was in the room, thus, once again, using his manipulative psychological techniques of group dynamics, he shifted the onus of responsibility for my presence and actions onto the audience. Responding to this manipulative device, ten heavies surrounded me and I was dragged out and carried from the symposium.

The parting comment from the chairman was that I had spoiled the whole symposium. Needless to say, he had never thought of the many homosexuals who have had their lives spoiled by aversion therapy.

ED: The LMG says that it held this meeting behind closed doors because “the last time they were talking about using aversion therapy on homosexuals, homosexuals actually said things that spoiled the meeting.” Our thanks to Peter.

Underground Violence

LONDON: It has been reported to Gay News that at least one person was attacked on the Northern Line tube whilst returning from the Wednesday Gay Lib Disco at ‘The Bull and Gate’ pub, Kentish Town, on 18th November.

Apparently the attackers on seeing some people in semi-drag and wearing make-up decided it was time to take their aggressiveness out on someone, and began punching one of the disco-goers in the face. Reports vary about how many people were involved in the ensuing violence, and GLF’s London office, at the time of writing, knows nothing about the incident.

It does seem though, that this was just an isolated occurence and it certainly doesn’t mean that the skinhead/queer-basher violence that spoilt a number of GLF dances at Fulham Town Hall will be repeated at this popular gay disco. But we suggest that it may be a good idea for those wearing things likely to bring unwanted attention, to travel back with a group of people, rather than on their own or with just a handful of friends. We also recommend anyone who suffers any violence on the tube, to report the incident to the Transport Police.

Further developments, if any, will appear in GN

It’s On

MANCHESTER: The Campaign tor Homosexual Equality announced it will definitely hold its first annual conference, despite the resort’s playing hard to get.

At a meeting of Morecambe Corporation’s Publicity Committee, the members heard CHE’s case put by the campaign’s chairman, Alan Horsfall.

The committee decided it had no objection to CHE holding its conference in Morecambe in April 1973 by private arrangement with the owners of the Central Pier.

But the committee would not rescind its inaccurate minute that Morecambe did not have the facilities CHE needed even though committee members agreed that the minute was untrue.

The committee would not even recommend that the council rescinded this untrue minute.

A spokesman for CHE told Gay News: “The facilities point was a feeble excuse by which Morecambe Corporation naively hoped originally to hide the fact that members of the council were discriminating against CHE for reasons of pure prejudice.”

Harsh Reality

I am prompted by various articles that I have read recently to write the following about myself and the family from which I come. To set the scene, I am the eldest of five children — 3 boys (Ian, 24, David 27 and myself 31) and two girls (Maggy, 25 and Joan, 29). Our mother is ‘well connected’ (for what that’s worth), a JP, and sometime Conservative Councillor for a Sussex Borough. Our father, who was in the Diplomatic Corps, is dead and our step-father is a barrister and deeply religious (both great hang-ups I find). Three of us turned out to be gay — Ian, Maggy and myself. We had everything we could possibly wish for in life — large house, large garden, cars, servants, and a first class education. According to my mother’s press cuttings we were ‘gifted’ and ‘beautiful’ and won many local and national baby competitions — even doing a spot of child modelling for a well-known ladies’ journal. We all grew up to have blonde curly hair and in the case of my brothers and I, to be extremely hairy on our bodies which all the girls who came to our parents’ swimming parties raved over, as did our sisters and the boys at school.

Our sex life started with the usual comparisons when we were very young and home on holiday from school. Three or four of us were invariably left in England while mother accompanied father on his two or three year tours abroad – David and I at a well-known boys’ public school and my two sisters at a convent (which, I gather, was enough to turn anyone gay). We played the usual bedroom games at school, as did our sisters, and have all had sex with each other in one form or other – experimentally of course!

Ian was born in Brazil on one of my parents trips, and has been at school in Sweden for three years, which broadened his outlook on life considerably at the ripe old age of 9 through to 12, and then he went to a very elite academy in France while mother and father did a four year tour in Paris. At his request he stayed on until he was 18 and lives in Paris now with the son of an American politician who he has known for nearly two years. They are blissfully (there is no other word for it) happy and very much in love. They both have responsible jobs and are completely accepted in Paris ‘society’ – such as it is today.

Maggy, who always gave me the impression that she was weaned on a dildo, had a couple of affairs in the SW3 area before she went to live with the daughter of a Peer and a German female journalist in Heidelberg. All three of them are accepted in their towns as normal people. YET — and this is the real crunch for so many of us in England — NONE of us are now accepted in the stuffed shirt drawing rooms of our friends and relatives in Surrey and Sussex.

My brother David is making his way politically and financially in the City and though not married, has a ten-year-old son, resulting from an over indulgent evening he had at an end of term ball with a girl from our town. This is all forgotten by my mother and the girl concerned had an enormous wedding at St Margaret’s, with a reception for 500 people at a well-known hotel, and a seven-week honeymoon in America and the West Indies. My step-father is paying for the boy’s education – at a public school of course (to quote him “you learn a better way of life there”) and I doubt if the girl bothered to tell her MP (1970 vintage) husband.

My sister Joan is a Senior Stewardess with a foreign international airline and openly boasts that she sleeps with ‘homesick’ pilots on a sort of rota basis. Yet mother says nothing.

Why is it that David and Joan are regarded as so spotless in my mother’s eyes and yet her other children virtually do not exist any more to her and certainly to the rest of the family?

I have found in five years in University and nearly eight years in the medical profession that the majority of gay people – and I meet thousands every year – come from good middle or upper-class backgrounds. They are charming, well-spoken, intelligent young people who, to quote my father, “should have known better”. Or should they? Have they not chosen of their own free will the life they wish to live? Why harass them with archaic legislation and send them to psychiatrists and psychologists for ‘treatment’?

An effort should be made by papers such as yours to show that being gay is not a disease and that those of us who are gay are happy and have no desire to convert those who have chosen another course.

Tragically, the British way of life is such that if I were to use my real name (or those of my brothers and sisters) I would do a considerable amount of damage to the lives of many people, therefore I must be content to sign myself as I do, in the knowledge that those who do recognise the family concerned will understand, and those who do not will at least feel that the foregoing represents in some way or another their own personal family problem.

John

Pier Unsafe for Gays

19721001-04MANCHESTER: Last August Weymouth Council told the Campaign for Homosexual Equality it was reversing its Entertainments Committee’s decision to allow them to hold their first conference at the Pavilion, Weymouth. This decision was aided by a great deal of support from the national and local press.

CHE then made what they thought to be definite alternative arrangements to hold the conference, due to take place in April, at More-cambe. They had planned to hold it in the theatre at the end of the pier – and all seemed to be going smoothly. Now, apparently, Morecambe Council are backing out.

A CHE spokesman said: “In order to discourage us the Council has put out a trail of red herrings such as saying the pier is too unsafe for us to hold our conference there. Curiously though they haven’t cancelled the fire brigade conference due to take place in the same building shortly after ours.”

Is it possible the Council are just being kind and imagine that should the building collapse, a group of firemen could rescue themselves from the rubble whereas we poor things couldn’t?

Gay News has not yet spoken to Morecambe Council.

Gay Women and VD

A Personal Experience

I first rang the hospital to check the times of opening and was told that the Special clinic stayed open until 6.30 pm. to allow for people to attend after work. So we arrived there in the middle of the afternoon to avoid the rush. For anyone who is trying to be discreet about attending a Venereal Disease clinic, they might become embarrassed as they find huge notices SPECIAL CLINIC outside the building. So any passers-by that might be watching know full well what you have been up to.

On entering we registered with a very nice receptionist taking note that “Men” one side, “Women” the other. You are then given a little orange card with a number on. It is important you don’t lose this as you are called by number and not name. We then went to the Social Worker’s office, who took us to the Nurse in charge and we were asked to sit down and wait in line with other women. Giving everybody plenty of time for thought as to what each and all have been doing. About 10 minutes later our numbers were called, the voice coming out of a little letter box by a door. So we went in to see our Doctors and I was asked “What symptoms have you got and who and when did I last have intercourse with?” I took a deep breath and told him I hadn’t had intercourse with a man, but sexual relations with a woman. Fast and furious scribblings took place on my notes! More questions about symptoms and then I was put into a little room, whereupon I was asked to remove my underwear. During which time three female nurses charged in for a chat, I wondered what my Doctor had been saying about me. I couldn’t help wondering if they were homosexual too. Just as I finished having my tests done – these being painless but uncomfortable, I saw the doctor whom my colleague was attending, rush in to see my Doctor, have a few words and nodding of the head and rush out again. After the internal examinations I got dressed and went into another corridor for a blood test. There I met my colleague sitting stony faced and obviously annoyed.

It appears her Doctor had asked “What is the problem?” and she answered “No problem. I am here with my girl friend who is having a check up.” “Have you had intercourse?” “I have not” she replied. “Oh! Have you had sexual contact with your friend?” “Yes” she says. He then got up, went out of the room, came back about five minutes later then asked her to get ready for the internal examinations. This caused her great concern and she hesitated at the realisation of what she had to go through. He may be a Doctor, but he was still a male. She therefore froze during the examination, making it more difficult. When he finished he went back to the file and wrote HOMOSEXUAL across it. Now she is not ashamed of being homosexual, but she was quite right in saying that he need not have been so blatant about it. So that the nurses, social worker, receptionist and whoever else might have access to the file would read it and would cause her embarrassment if she had to return again. In order to follow this visit through we telephoned for our results a few days later. Relieved to report that they were both negative. To be fair, it was a well-run clinic and cancer smears were also taken so even if you are a female homosexual do not be put off going there if you need to. After all you are attending a special clinic and we are classed, are we not, by society as something special.

DISC DEMO?

19720914-04The Fleet Street offices of the musical paper Disc have allegedly been threatened with a protest march and invasion by London’s Gay Liberation Front.

GLF members were irate about the paper’s constant use of the word “queer” in recent weeks. Also, headlines, such as “David Bowie Bent on Success” and “David Bowie’s Back Up Men” were said to be lacking in taste, although the Sub-Editor excused himself out of this by claiming that these were standard phrases used by the paper.

A recent news item in Disc explaining the situation to readers, was headlined “… back at the camp!” which one would have thought would only make matters worse.

GLF’s argument is “Every week in your paper (Disc) we read something which takes our cause in vain. It’s hard enough as it is, without you being snide and making fun”.

It does seem as if some members of GLF are being somewhat over-sensitive, but the childish attitude of Disc doesn’t particularly help the situation.