An Open Letter to the Company of Nine – CHE’s poetry Group

The background to this letter (published below) is as follows. CHE’s successful poetry group, called The Company Of Nine, is producing a volume of its members’ poetry. 30 contributors submitted 104 poems from which 33 were selected, including two by Laurence Collinson. Laurence later received a note from the editor of the volume asking whether Laurence wished to publish under a pseudonym. “So far I have assumed that as this is to be an avowedly CHE publication the poets will wish to have their identities concealed,” wrote the editor. Expressing surprise at this, Laurence received a second letter that included this comment: “Although the booklet is to be a CHE publication, there can be no guarantee that it will be seen only by CHE eyes, which means that for some to be published in it under their own names would not be brave but downright stupid. Second, some of our contributors may wish to avoid publicity through doubts about the worth of their work.”

30 Andrewes House,
Barbican,
London EC2Y 8AX

31 January, 1973.

Dear …,

I was more shocked by your second letter than your first. You give ‘two points to remember’ as reasons that contributors to the CHE poetry anthology might wish to publish under a pseudonym.

(1) The booklet might be seen by other than CHE eyes, and consequently, for some to be published in it under their own names ‘would not be brave, but downright stupid’.

(2) Some contributors may not wish publicity because of ‘doubts about the worth of their work’.

Neither of these reasons seem to me to be rational or valid. Firstly, contributors who wish to remain ‘in the closet’ should not have submitted material to a booklet that is ostensibly part of a CAMPAIGN. (Remember: CHE means Campaign for Homosexual Equality?) There are plenty of ‘straight’ poetry journals wherein one may be published without having to suffer the ordeal of guilt by association; let these courageous poets submit their creations there! Really, what respect must these people have for the Campaign, for themselves, and for their own homosexuality that they, must engage in such self-oppression!

Secondly, writers who doubt the ‘worth of their work’ don’t usually submit that work for publication!

I have decided to protest against this typical CHE furtiveness by (a) withdrawing my poems from this anthology – will you please see that this is done; and (b) publishing this as an open letter in an appropriate journal.

Laurence Collinson

Cupid’s Coming

Grandma Press has just announced that enough subscriptions have now been obtained for the firm to send its comic, sexy novel, CUPID’S CRESCENT by Laurence Collinson, poet, playwright and contributor to many gay publications, including Gay News, Lunch and Quorum, to the printers. The delay that has occurred since the book was first advertised has been due partly to the fact that some potential subscribers were slow in making up their minds, and partly to the fact that certain personal problems intervened that made it difficult to act as quickly as had been hoped. Such difficulties have now been happily overcome, and people who have subscribed can be assured that the time they will now have to wait for their copies will be no longer than it takes the printers and publishers to set up, lay-out, design, staple and post off the book.

A few autographed and numbered copies are still available at £2.00 each; while there are still plenty of the ordinary £1.00 copies for those who want them.

Orders for copies of this funny, semi-gay paperback novel should be sent, along with the correct amount of money (postage is included) to Laurence Collinson, 30 Andrews House, Barbican, London EC2Y 8 AX.

Some Of My Best Friends Are Doctors

LONDON: Even the sub-dean of Guy’s Hospital Medical School learned a little about the gay world at the London Medical Group symposium on Society’s Responsibility to the Homosexual, which was addressed by a Cambridge criminologist; Antony Grey — “Britain’s number one homosexual” — of the Albany Trust; and a Roman Catholic priest who has written a book on advising gays.

Professor J. R. Trounce was the symposium’s chairman and he told the meeting: “This is something that I, for one, know very little about.”

He then heard the cold medical facts from Dr D. J. West, of the University of Cambridge Institute of Criminology, who said: “It is not identical to have sexual relations with a member of the same sex and to have a preference to have sex with the same sex.

“In recent years it has become possible to measure the response that homosexuals have for other men. Most recently the penis measurement machine has made it possible to be accurate in this form of response measurement.

“It is fairly sure now that the only people who can be ‘cured’ of homosexuality are those who would like to have sex with the other sex. In fact, the rate of success of clinicians turning homosexuals into heterosexuals is very small.

“I think this is because of the widespread nature with which this condition occurs – that is what causes it. The fact that it is so common leads one to doubt how it can be purely pathological.

“By and large, no survey of both male and female homosexuals has been carried out in this country.

“Until recently we were told that male and female hormones were present in the male homosexual. The general feeling now is that homosexuality is decided by endocryne levels. The level of andronogens will alter the strength of the sexual drive of the individual.

“Most homosexuals see themselves as males or females. In many cases there is a very strong attachment to mother and a disturbed relationship with father.

“In the case of transexuals, the feelings for mother and against father could almost be called psychotic.”

Mr Antony Grey, managing trustee of the Albany Trust said he had once been introduced as Britain’s number one homosexual. He said: “The problem about homosexuality is really ignorance.

“It is a disgrace that sex education and even professional training for doctors ignores sexual deviation.

“The law is very discriminatory against homosexuals. The police have more interest in harassing homosexuals rather than investigating heterosexual offences.

“The stigma applied to someone who declares himself to be a homosexual is immense. Society’s responsibility to the homosexual is the same as society’s responsibility to anyone: that is to let them exist in society as people without any restraint being put upon them.

The Rev Michael Holings, author of the book ‘Counselling the Homosexual’ gave a Christian view of homosexuality. He pointed out that: “When I wrote my booklet, I knew that to the majority of the Roman Catholic Church homosexuality meant just one phrase ‘mortal sin’. But if you are a human being you have to recognise that human beings are different.”

After the speeches the audience, mainly medical students, was allowed to ask the speakers questions. All of them came from gays. The medical students stayed silent – perhaps they did not want to learn.

Laurence Collinson, author of the banned book ‘Cupid’s Crescent’ said: “Dr West raised the subject of transexuality, which is very different from homosexuality, but that is not the impression he gave.”