I never thought I’d find myself springing to the defence of Sir Michael Swann, but your news item in GN14 bristled with so many inaccuracies that the record must be set straight.
- The reference to his brush with Scottish International omitted the essential point, which is that he’d got hold of the wrong end of the stick. He thought that the story about a warden at another Scottish university was a bizarrely distorted version of something that had happened at Edinburgh.
- The teach-in on Homosexuality on March 8th is not being organised by the Scottish Minorities Group, but by a specially formed committee of staff and students (more non-gays than gays) from Edinburgh University and Heriot-Watt University — containing, by the way, not one professor, but two.
- Sir Michael did not write letters complaining about the abusive letters he’d received, though he did ask the Deputy Secretary to the University to tell me that the Teach-In could not be described without Senatus approval as an official University event, as the Glasgow Herald (for reasons best known to itself) had labelled it.
- To say that ‘he has taken steps to make sure that no university funds are spent on the teach-in by telling university committees that they may not regard the teach-in as official’ is almost libellous. Our Committee has no evidence that this has happened.
- In short. Sir Michael is not ‘on record’ as being anti-gay. It would be quite untypical of him to take any such positive stand. I have recently heard that in reply to at least one of the ‘abusive letters’ he started off by reassuring the writer that the Teach-In was not an official event and ended by saying that the University believed in encouraging free discussion. This hedging of his bets strikes me as far more characteristic of the political animal that he is.
I am not happy about the attitude of the University committees we have approached for help; their reasons for rejecting our applications strike me as specious and unconvincing. But individual prejudice, conscious or subconscious, could well be a sufficient explanation. Making wild and unprovable accusations of behind-the-scenes rigging is just playing into the enemy’s hands. In the long battle for gay rights we have to learn to be cunning as well as courageous.
Back In Business
Reading Gay Alliance,
Room 7, 30 London Road,
Dear Gay News,
We would like to clarify a point in your article “Angry Silence Hits RGA” (Gay News 14). It ended with the suggestion that complaints from a member of the public may gave made the landlord “forget” to renew his music and dance licence at the Tavern.
This is not true. The complaint to the brewers regarding the press advertisement came after the lapse of the licence. The landlord has done his best to ensure that our meetings go ahead without problems, and was very apologetic at the loss of the licence. He continued to let RGA use the club-room free of charge for the period without extensions or dancing, when attendances were very low and his revenue negligible.
The help he has given RGA since social functions started last June has been the most that could be expected from any licensee in business for gain, and in no other way associated with the aims of our organisation. This contrasts with the attitude of his monopolist employer.
We are pleased to report that he has now regained his licences, and our socials and discos are back in business.
Dave Thompson, Goff Sargent,
Editors of Gay Arrow
Not So Lucky
32 Shaftesbury Avenue,
London W1V 8EP.
Your editorial spiel on money and the gay movement was dead on — except for your belief that “the Albany Trust is lucky enough to have a charitable trust supporting it just now.” I wish this was true, but it’s not. Last year we did receive just under £3,000 from the Gulbenkian Foundation.
But that was a once-only, emergency grant aimed at helping us keep our heads above water to the end of 1972 so that we could continue with the vital job of co-ordinating counselling and befriending activities for the homophile movement. The money has all been spent now, and the grant was necessitated because our 1972 income had dropped to half of what it used to be.
Now, at the beginning of 1973, the Albany Trust is once again faced with the prospect of being out of business within a few months unless adequate support is forthcoming. Our autumn appeal – designed to put us “in the black” for this year as a first step – was a failure. Yet we are not only “carrying” all NFHO’s administrative expenses but have also been contributing to those of CHE and other homophile groups. This can’t go on unless the gay world shows positive signs of wanting it to.
To expect more work to be done by gay organisations when they haven’t enough cash in hand to keep going at present levels is futile. There’s no question of “chicken or egg?” here. Given the cash, we will do the job. But time is short – for the Albany Trust and for NFHO, as well as for Gay News.
Antony Grey, Managing Trustee