The Four Minute Kiss

Photograph: David Hart

LONDON: The Campaign for Homosexual Equality held a promising sounding conference on New Ghettoes for Old, with Lord Arran, Maureen Duffy, Brian McGee and Chad Varah speaking on sexual liberty and the struggle for it.

Lord Arran let on that he was in touch with higher spirits, who, like him, didn’t like the idea of gays kissing in public.

Brian McGee and Maureen Duffy dealt eloquently and informatively on the problems of Gay Liberation for men and women respectively.

Chad Varah said he found it difficult to accept modern ideas of sexual relationships and liberation that belonged, perhaps, he said, to another age.

The possible high-spot was an unplanned speech by a demonstrator in women’s clothes, who used the microphone loudspeaker system in the Conway Hall to tell the audience that sexual liberation could only be achieved after the destruction of capitalist ideals.

For this he got an earful of abuse from Ian Harvey, the meeting’s chairman and enthusiastic applause from the audience. After his speech the radical demonstrator left the stage and kissed a GLF member for four minutes.

Goblins & Faeries

THE EROTIC WORLD OF FAERY by Maureen Duffy. Published by Hodder and Stoughton, £3.50

The title is possibly misleading, the book is not a collection of erotic faery stories, but a serious study of the development of the faery/folk mythology. More deeply it examines how each successive stage of folk culture was influenced and often brought into being by the various societies that have existed in Britain for the past 1,500 years.

The book begins with the contrast between the great cauldron of myths and religions which spread from country to country in pre-Christian times and the intolerance of other religions and suppression of folk culture by the ever powerful Christian Church.

From the new and frowned upon folk mythology which came out of this supression, Miss Duffy takes us on an interesting century-by-century trip through faeryland. She discusses very lucidly Shakespeare’s plays. King Arthur, the Renaissance, English painting, the Gothic creepy stories, bringing us right up to Arthur C Clarke, James Blish and modern sci-fi fantasy.

Although the author at the beginning apologises for the book being “necessarily superficial” I did not find it so, and the range of legends, plays, paintings and poems it examines is considerable. One of my favourite poems as a schoolboy was Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” but now its real sexual content has been brought to my attention I shan’t ever be able to read it in the same light again.

To sum it up this is a very well researched, constructed and thoroughly enjoyable book.

Sapphonic Success

Sappho had a ball on Saturday! Sounds like a line from a dirty song, but actually it describes the party organised by Sappho magazine at the Marquis of Cornwallis pub in Coram St on Oct 8.

There was a friendly disco, superb hot food in generous helpings, an efficient bar service, a prize treasure hunt over a map of Lesbos (where else?) and a happy, dancing crowd of Sappho subscribers from all over Britain, with a sprinkling of friends from CHE. It was the most relaxed crowd of gays I’ve seen for a long time, and the intrepid male Gay News reporter who went with me agreed: “It’s good to get away from staring lines of men clutching their drinks and watching each other” he opined.

Earlier in the evening Maureen Duffy read some of her poems, which we missed. As latecomers we were not allowed in for fear of disturbing the reading. Who would attempt to argue with the divine Jackie Forster, guardian of the peace, but two small doubts – do poetry and a dancing-and-drinking evening mix, and might I have fled the pub if I’d mustered the courage to arrive alone, and then been asked to wait downstairs in the pub for half an hour?

This is in no way a detraction from the success of the evening, well deserved by all the Sapphos involved – when’s the next one?


ED: See the details of Sappho meetings and magazine subscription on the information page.