‘Queer’ Author Tells All

BRIGHTON: Author John Montgomery, who lives here, revealed exclusively to Gay News that he secretly wrote the book ‘Queer People’, first published by W.H. Allen in 1963.

John wrote the book under a pseudonym as Douglas Plummer. This was necessary, he says, because: “I was then a partner with a leading literary agent, and hesitated to risk offending clients.

“Also the public was not ready to accept gay people, and the Wolfenden Report hadn’t yet become law. I hoped my book would help to influence public opinion, and I believe that in a small way it succeeded.”

Queer People started with the words: “I am a homosexual”, and attracted considerable attention. It was attacked by several English newspapers, but Citadel Press in New York published an American edition, and a British paperback appeared. Facts, figures and case histories used in the book were supplied by the Homosexual Law Reform Society, which had been started by writers J.B. Priestley and his wife Jacquetta Hawkes, who had financed the society out of their own pockets.

The book demanded a change in the law and justice for gay people. John says: “It influenced Bryan Magee to write One In Twenty and is quoted by H. Montgomery-Hyde in The Other Love, and other books on the subject.”

John’s chapters were headed Who Are We?, Where We Meet, Inside A Club, Prison For Homosexuals, Blackmail and Suicide, The Policeman at The Door and Change The Law! It ended with the words “Live decently and do not forget that true love is usually ennobling and enriching for both partners, and can be a source of inspiration to others.”

John Montgomery, alias Douglas Plummer, asked in the book: Should homosexuals have their own literature?

“Why not? If our minority is not allowed to express itself in its own magazines, newspapers and other forms, and to express the homosexual viewpoint, then how about other minorities? What about the Quakers? And why should the Jews or coloured people publish their own journals? In fact, exactly how free are the people of Britain?”

Just before the critical debate in Parliament that changed the law, copies of the paperback edition were sent to nearly all the MPs.

John Montgomery has written other books – his The World Of Cats has sold more than 300,000 copies. His other books include novels, social histories and children’s books.

“Queer People brought me hundreds of letters,” the author told GN. “Many men told me frankly that it had helped them to adjust their feelings.

“Some left the book out for their parents to read, knowing that it would break down the barriers. Several people invited me to go and live with them.

“But I think the book was well worth writing. It is something I’m quite proud of having achieved. My publisher had no idea who Douglas Plummer was when he accepted it, although I’d already had ten books published by other firms under my real name.”