Your Letters

Worthy of our Cause

London NW5

Dear Gay News,

At last a publication worthy of our cause! Today I purchased my first copy from a news-vendor outside Tottenham Court Road underground station.

I’m both surprised and delighted. Surprised at your very high standard and delighted with the format. Since you’re gonna need all the support you can get I’m not gonna proffer any criticism. That’ll come later – when you’re solvent!

Keep up the good work. I should like to contribute an occasional feature. Without payment of course. I’m a freelance journalist and my work has been published in a variety of magazines.

Please accept my very sincere wishes for a prosperous New Year.

Jack Jacobs

Valuable To The Young

Norwich

Dear Gay News,

I am enclosing a donation to help buttress your collapsing financial structure – and prevent the contents of that egg running out of control.

I for one am most grateful for the birth and continued existence of GN. Most gay publications — the Lunch Togethers, Jeffrey Comes and CHE Ballotins of this world – leave me feeling bloody furious, for one reason or another – usually many. Not so GN. It is handsome to look at, attractive to handle, interesting in content — just like its editorial collective, no doubt. I should be very sad and disillusioned with the gay community (assuming it exists) if GN were allowed to flounder.

My chief concern is that you should remain available especially for the young reader. I often think how valuable a publication of yours would have been to me, twenty-five years ago, when I was a confused and lonely teenager. There was nothing to help/reassure then – there isn’t that much of real value now — for their sake you must go on.

Ray

Penetrating Dark Corners

JCR, University of Southampton

Dear Gay News,

I don’t imagine that you get many letters from ‘straight’ people in appreciation of your entirely gay paper. Nevertheless I think that you are doing a great job in providing this interesting, usually well written, and good humoured magazine for your regular readers. I picked up number 10 by chance in a common room here and once over the shock of seeing what it was, started to read it. Learnt a lot — which perhaps is what a lot of other ‘normal’ people should do — I certainly feel I understand a little more about the gay way of life than I did.

I hope your News will penetrate even darker corners of the heterosexual bigotry — keep up the good work.

From a surprised reader,

S. C. Loder

P.S. Hope I got the terminology right — your jargon is worse than James Burke’s!

Sensationalism or Controversy?

In your comment on the Body Politic affair you rather pompously say: ‘Investigation must be unbiased, rational, and thorough’. In a Utopian society, maybe it would be — but in ours, alas, anything that smacks of sensationalism is seized on and used as the press consider will most impress their readership. Surely the solution is simply not to publish articles like ‘Of Men And █████ Boys’ and indeed not to publish pictures of pretty █████ nude boys like you did in GN14, (any straight person seeing the front cover could only have one opinion about the tastes and desires of gay people).

My other objection was the lack of any reply to the article itself. Whilst I do not deny that an affair with an older male would probably do a boy no harm, and might even do him some good, there are two things worth remembering. Firstly if the affair is discovered and there is an almighty hoo-ha and investigation (which often happens) the experience might well leave a mark on the boy’s mind which would never be erased. Secondly, relations between men and boys can only lead, as far as the man is concerned, to frustration, anxiety, fear, self-doubt, and the danger of punishment. The only sensible advice one could give to a man who loves 14 year old boys etc is to cultivate a liking for older teenagers and men in their twenties. I believe in most cases it can be done.

As to that balls about it enriching both parties and producing tomorrow’s revolutionaries – well!

A boy of 13 who is seduced is just as likely to become a member of the Monday Club, I’d have thought. Must we always make such wild assertions without any evidence?

Yours, looking forward to an Editorial comment on the Body Politic’ affair and perhaps a slightly more balanced article on the subject of boys and men.

TS

ED: The ‘Body Politic Affair’ was controversial, admittedly, to the point of offending certain people, but part of Gay News’ function is to throw open new ideas for discussion and thought.

Tremendously Illegal

Dear Gay News.

Recently you have been talking a lot about pederasty. Well, I’m not sure if I come under that classification, but here are my problems.

I am 17 and I’m normally attracted to boys of roughly 8-18, so therefore any type of sex for me is tremendously illegal. It is very hard for boys and chics like me to make contact. We are always scared of the consequences and are often put in a predicament when older people, understandably, make passes at us. This creates feelings of guilt, anxiety, frustration and fear.

Let me state a personal incident: Some people I knew were squatting in a pre-fab due to be pulled down for a by-pass. One day myself and Sue (a Danish guy chick) were there with a █-████-███ boy who visited the pre-fab often.

The boy told us that he wanted to go to bed with me. After a little questioning we discovered that he knew what he was saying. Sue advised me that I should. But the other squatters came in so all was quiet. While people were there the boy sat in the chairs with me, with his arms around me. He did this for several days and kissed me upon entering and leaving and wanted to hold hands with me in the street (this I banned). I did not have any sex with him because the others promised some nasty happenings if I “Come the queer with any of the kids” this not only upset me but scared me terribly. They all knew I was gay yet this ‘proof’ was too much for them. Later they had the gall to say it was for my own good. They didn’t want to see me in jail.

There must be lots of boys like me who have had and are having similar problems.

This letter may not be much but I hope you’ll think about it.

Anonymous

Tricky Situation

Herts

Dear Gay News,

As a student librarian, I was interested to read your report (GN11) that Newcastle City Library had agreed to subscribe to Gay News, and similarly that Bath Municipal Libraries have refused it (GN 14).

Public Libraries have an essential role to play as agents of communication, and should act, in such a situation, as a counter to the restrictive monopolies of large organisations such as W H Smith.

On these grounds alone there is a strong argument for libraries to stock Gay News (and Sappho) since these are non-party-political, non-religious, and likely to be of help to many people.

The public librarian, however, is in a tricky situation, since he is responsible to a committee of elected councillors, who may shy away from risking complaints from the public which may endanger their political position. (This, I imagine, accounts for the ‘vetting by a senior librarian’ in Newcastle, which no doubt includes censoring the full-frontals which quite frequently appear, often unnecessarily I might add).

The image and aims of libraries are changing, slowly but surely; but we are still a long way behind the USA whose American Library Association now has a ‘Gay Liberation Group’. There is no professional contact between gay librarians in Britain at all.

I would like to hear the views of other gay librarians on these matters.

Stuart Woollard

The Support it Deserves?

Liverpool

Dear Collective,

In GN 14 the matter of money was raised no less than three times — in your Editorial, Peter Jackson’s letter, and Make or Break by Antony Grey.

Your commitment to the homosexual cause is greatly to be admired. Which of us would chuck up better paid jobs to work (very hard I’m sure) for £15 a week and with very little hope of a rise in the foreseeable future?

The financial contribution of the gay world is just not good enough. “Gay News is not out to make a profit, but cannot continue at all without adequate support.” Nice letters aren’t enough, tangible help is needed. I call upon all those that appreciate what Gay News is doing, here and now, to give it the support it deserves.

READERS: Show your appreciation by a little modest self sacrifice. Give 50% of what you spend in a week on smokes and drinks (or equivalent indulgences) to “Gay News”. Send it NOW.

To the collective I say: Put up the price forthwith to 25p — the same as Lunch charges. Quorum is twice that, so it would not be out of the way. Those who made an act of faith by making a years subscription might be asked to pay half the difference on their remaining numbers. I don’t think this would break anyone, and it should not only relieve you of the worry of not knowing where the money for the next edition is coming from, but also ensures that there IS a next edition!

I am sure that readers do not realise the urgency of your (or, one might say, OUR problems) and I write this in the hope, as an ordinary reader only,

I can emphasise the gravity of the situation.

I hope this will result in a flood of contributions!

I enclose my own, based on the above recommendation. Best wishes and good luck.

Joe Scouseland

Not Just Survive

Friend
Broadley Terrace
London W1
01-402 6345

Dear Gay News,

Talking with a group of straight social workers the other day (several of whom were middle-aged) I spoke about the problem of isolation for gay people. The older ones particularly asked how gay people can make contact let alone establish social or love relationships. We then spoke about GN, Lunch and the gay magazines. Their response was “but how do gay people know about them unless they’re already on the scene?” Their reaction was not just curiosity but meant to express sincere concern. I explained the reluctance of booksellers and newsagents to stock gay publications — unless they are purveyors of lucrative hard porn.

It is the isolated and lonely who need contact most and yet it is they whom we are least successful in reaching. That is why GN must not just survive but be much more widely available. Thus I am personally glad that you have decided to ‘tone down’ the contact ads. Though all minorities, however bizarre their tastes may seem to some of us, do need some means of meeting one another, in the present fraught legal situation there seems little alternative but to choose between catering for all needs and just some.

I have, privately to you, expressed my misgivings and concern that GN may be prosecuted for its ads, and thereby deprive gay people everywhere of a vital lifeline. I feel that I should now, publicly, add support to your decision (which will be unpopular in some quarters) and commend its wisdom and farsightedness. Here’s to a circulation of 100,000 in 1973!

Love to you all,

Michael Launder (National Organiser, Friend)

PS: Is your ‘1HL’ postal coding a subtly significant reference by the GPO?

More letters on page 10.

Please And Thanks – An Encore

Following the Editorial comments about our financial difficulties in GN14, there has been a growing response to our appeal for positive help. In the last issue we printed, under the headline Please And Thanks, a list of those who have contributed to making sure that Gay News carries on being regularly published and that the paper keeps to the standards we have set ourselves.

In this edition we reprint that list, adding to it the many other donations, large and small, that we have received since. We apologise to any people whose names do not appear but have all the same sent us something. Please get in touch and remind us.

The amount of money required was an immediate £500, plus a further £1500 to guarantee our continued existence. If we can gather in this capital, it will mean in a matter of months, that we will be able to stand on our own feet, and as we said in the last issue, make appeals such as this a thing of the past.

Your donations and the interest you have shown in our financial problems give us at Gay News a vigorous determination to make sure that the paper carries on happening in the future. So please accept our most sincere thanks and love for helping to give us the chance to keep on publishing this country’s first independent national newspaper for all gay men and women.

Once again we leave you to calculate how much we have received so far, and how short it is of the amount we need. Of course, we have totalled the list. Why don’t you?

D and G, London £25
AK, Essex £2.70
Enzo, London £2
Kenneth, Scarborough £1
Tony £1
Jim, Glasgow £2.70
David, South London £5.00
Christopher, Oxford £5.00
Philip, Camden £10
Simon, Newark £2.70
Ray, Norwich1 £5
Antique Dealer, London £10
N, London £2
Luke, London £10
C.T. London £1
Milic of Le Faune £5
Joe, Liverpool £5
A F B £20
Henry, West Worthing £5
Phil, uncorn -£2
Customers of Le Faune £9
EG, Brighton 90p
Anon £1
National Federation of Homophile Organisations £50
Robert of Pluckley £50
Challenge £25
Tony & Eric, London NW6 £25
CHE (London) 6 month loan £75
Friend, 3 month loan £50
Scottish Minorities Group £10
Austin, Kirkeudbrightshire £10
Sidney, Challenge £5
Peter, London SW7 £5
G & J, Rochester £5
Arthur & Henry £5
Richard, London £5
Stuart, Glasgow £5
Anonymous, (given at Coleherne) £5
Anonymous £5
Richard, London SW11 £2.70
S, London £1
Peter, London £1
Nick, Blackburn £1
Phil, Cheshire £1
Richard, Malden 70p.
Rob, Nottingham £5
And thanks to George for paying for the hire of our first electric typewriter for six months. £54

Please And Thanks

In the last edition of Gay News, our Editorial told you of the financial crisis we’ve found ourselves in. Antony Grey expanded on the problems and the way that these were in common to all sections of the gay community in his article ‘1973 – Make Or Break Year’.

As a response to what was said, we have received a number of donations. We said in the Editorial that we needed £500 to solve our immediate difficulties, and a further £1500 to ensure our continued existence.

If we can raise this much needed capital, we should, within months, be able to stand on our own feet and make appeals such as this a thing of the past.

In the near future we will include a financial statement in Gay News to let you all know the ups and downs of the paper since we started publishing last June.

The joint editors and collective of Gay News would like to sincerely thank the following life-savers who sent in donations etc, no matter what the amount was.

We leave you to work out how much more we need to guarantee that the paper will keep on publishing.

National Federation of Homophile Organisations £50
Robert of Pluckley £50
Challenge £25
Tony & Eric, London NW6 £25
CHE (London) 6 month loan £75
Friend, 3 month loan £50
Scottish Minorities Group £10
Austin, Kirkeudbrightshire £10
Sidney, Challenge £5
Peter, London SW7 £5
G & J, Rochester £5
Arthur & Henry £5
Richard, London £5
Stuart, Glasgow £5
Anonymous, (given at Coleherne) £5
Anonymous £5
Richard, London SW11 £2.70
S, London £1
Peter, London £1
Nick, Blackburn £1
Phil, Cheshire £1
Richard, Malden 70p.
And thanks to George for paying for the hire of our first electric typewriter for six months. £54

Editorial

There’s an awful lot of fat queens sitting around on their butts spending all their money on themselves, and not on the gay movement – that’s the opinion of one of the top men in Britain’s homophile organisations.

He reckons there’s £7¾ million being earned each year by members of societies that belong to the National Federation of Homophile Organisations.

This estimate and the accusation that rich gays spend their cash on themselves only came at the annual meeting of the NFHO, held last month.

What caused the plain talking, after the first half of idealism, hopes and plans, was the fact that Gay News is — in plain English – broke. Flat broke, or, at least, it was at the time.

Immediate Donation

The NFHO asked Gay News to tell the meeting what it was like running a fortnightly homosexual newspaper. And we told them. After that people’s reservations about talking money crumbled. The NFHO gave Gay News an immediate donation of £50 from its all too small funds.

Antony Grey, the managing trustee of the Albany Trust, said an appeal which, ten years ago, would have raised £3,000 to £4,000, now raised £300 to £400 if they were lucky.

Why is money drying up? Are there less gays? Of course there aren’t.

Poverty Parade

It would seem that ten years ago, before the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, even the rich gays were prepared to write a cheque now and then to keep the few organisations then brave enough to exist to claim our civil rights as gays.

Now they have been given half of what we want — we are half-legal, we half-exist— and it seems they can’t be bothered to keep supporting those who are doing the fighting on their behalf.

It’s not just Gay News that finds money hard to get, the Gay Liberation Front parade its poverty in its regular newsletter. CHE needs money. Friend is young and poor

The Albany Trust is lucky enough to have a charitable trust supporting it just now, the NFHO – which could link up the disparate efforts towards gay liberation, given a chance — is starved of funds.

Selfish Gays

As the senior man from the organisation that belongs to the NFHO said, it’s time these gays stopped being complacent and started doing something to benefit the rest of the gay community — if it exists at all, rather than selfishly spending all those £7¾ million on themselves each year.

The editorial collective decided some time ago that we weren’t going to deal with internal matters in the editorial column (that’s what “Here We Are Again” is for).

But the present money shortage in the laughably constructed “gay world” has hit all gay organisations and publications. Therefore we feel that the matter is more important than being merely a domestic shortage.

Independent and Determined

The fact that this copy of Gay News has been printed is proof of what we intend to do. We’ll keep on keeping on. Keeping on at the authorities who have only given us half a life and keeping on at those selfish gays who can’t be bothered to support their organisations.

The fact that we have received donations and loans from various quarters — more details elsewhere – does not mean that we are going to start toeing anyone else’s line.

From now on Gay News is Gay News. And it’s here to stay.

Shoe-Strings can Strangle

We started without enough money to get past issue three. This is Gay News 14. Through cost-paring and seemingly never-ending days of work, this paper runs on a shoe-string. But a shoe-string isn’t good enough.

How many gays have to get by on £15 a week? Because each member of the collective never receives more than that. Gay News is here now. But it still needs money. £500 immediately. With another £1,500 to follow to guarantee our existence for 1973.

It’s not the only gay organisation to need money. We all do. Just to stay in existence — for some of us.

Big Mouths

People are generous enough with their praise, the sound they ought to produce if they think the gay organisations are doing any good is the sound of pens on cheque books.

Editorial

Hi, here we are again with Issue No. 9. This time slightly more on time than No. 8 which was held up for reasons beyond our control. Even beyond the printer’s control, or so he tells us. We apologise to any people who received their copies of the last edition a few days late. Our printer has been duly told off but we suppose even he cannot control exploding machinery and snapping wires. Seriously though, it was just one of those things. At least we haven’t had a strike yet!

No doubt some of you will think we are blowing our own trumpets, but we were rather pleased with GN8. The worth of the content was up to you to judge and pass comment on, but as far as design and presentation went, all credit to our designer and his assistants. And we hope to improve even more, for as we see things, no one can ever stop improving and trying just that little bit harder.

GN8 was ‘16 sexy pages’ and this issue is the same size. We hope to continually produce this number of pages, for we find that we can cover that much more, whether it be articles, news, reviews and the other gayness-essities. But please don’t feel too angry with us if we occasionally drop back to 12 pages. As you might have guessed, now comes the plug for asking for more contributions and suggestions from you. We have enough ideas at present for main features, but news and featurette material is incredibly valuable to us. So keep on sending your ideas and articles in, and not forgetting your letters which are so important to us and interesting to all our readers.

Gay Ads

We are pleased to see that many of you find our personal ad section useful. That’s what it’s supposed to be, as much as anything else. Incidentally, it has come to our notice that Time Out had to reject an ad on the advice of their solicitor and the ‘forceful’ suggestion of W.H. Smiths. The ad offered a flat for ‘two gay mates’. Very obscene and corrupting, don’t you think? We sympathise with Time Out for being so vulnerable to the ‘moral’ whims and bellyaches of a major distributor and wholesaler. At least that publication (even though more expensive than us) has tried to make its ad section available to all, no matter what their sexual preferences. Gay News will of course always accept such ads, no matter what judges, Lords and moral bigots may decide, and that goes too for any possible future distributors.

In the near future we hope to run a feature on exactly what you think about gay ads, contact or otherwise, which we publish despite the ‘illegality’ of our actions. You don’t have to be a radical or a militant to end hypocrisy and sexual discrimination.

Women

The amount of content relating to women readers in Gay News is still pitifully small. If anything, we consider this to be still one of the major faults of the paper. It would be chauvinistic of us to just put into the paper what we men thought should go in for women, and a ‘women’s page’ is most certainly not the solution. So please, sisters, let us have your articles and points of view, and help us to make this paper truly for both sexes. If you are distrustful of our motivations, come and talk to us first or give us a ring.

Transport

Having to distribute Gay News ourselves is at times quite a task and a worry, and there may be one or two of you who could help us out. We desperately need some transport (car, van lorry) once every two weeks. So maybe you have a vehicle you could lend to us. Either you could drive it yourself or lend it to us for a day. We in turn will take the utmost care of your car etc, and will pay for petrol and/or expenses incurred. Alternatively, if any friendly millionaire or equivalent, in a moment of madness, wants to donate a vehicle to Gay News, we certainly won’t say no.

Subscriptions

We sincerely hope you all still find the paper interesting, informative, and dare we hope, amusing and entertaining. To those of you who originally took out a 10 issue subscription, could we remind you that it is almost time to renew your faith in us. Please don’t leave it to the last moment, for it helps keep the paper work down, and, need we say it, we need your continued support and money.

Provincial News

To return to the subject of you supplying us with news and information; you may find that we are somewhat lacking in news content in this issue. More so than some previous editions. A certain amount of news stories, usually the more obvious ones, are gathered by us. But we really need you to send us in anything you hear about, especially from those of you living out of London. At least send us any stories relating to gayness appearing in your local and provincial newspapers.

Please enjoy and be critical of this, our ninth edition. And remember, Gay News is as good as you help make it.

Many thanks to the customer of the Coleherne who gave us a donation on Saturday 7th October. Such acts mean a lot to us.

Mae ‘GAY NEWS’ yn croesawu tanwsgrifwyr cymreig ac y mae ar werth yng nghwmry.
By courtesy of the Welsh Office.

Editorial

19721001-02Despite continuing financial, distribution and organisational problems, here we are again with issue No. 8. At least no-one can say that we are just a ‘seven-issue wonder’. And although the problems pertaining to the paper’s existence still continue, we of the collective are coming to terms with how much work and commitment is needed to carry on bringing out a regular fortnightly newspaper. It’s also becoming much more fun for us to be involved with such a project; even the rows and unpleasant situations we have recently found ourselves taking part in have not stopped us from realising that an aura of happiness from each member of the editorial collective is an important factor in getting out each edition of Gay News. We don’t want to bore you with the long hours etc. bit, but you really can do just about anything if you keep smiling.

Our money and distribution problems are closely tied together. You have no doubt noticed that under the credits and contents section on this page, we claim that distribution is done by ‘Us, You and A Prayer Book’. Well, strictly speaking that’s true. We do have three or four small distribution companies helping us, but the majority of copies you see in the limited number of shops that stock the paper are there because we supplied them. The shops have them either because they responded to a letter we wrote to them; because the shops got fed up with being asked for the paper by their customers, or because one of you wrote or telephoned us giving details of outlets you thought were worth us following up. (Thanks a lot, and keep it up). Also, as many of you will know, we regularly sell the paper in the major gay pubs in London, and we believe that copies are available in a few pubs and clubs around the country.

But unfortunately these distribution outlets are still not enough to support our continued existence. We must sell more copies to carry on, and we hope that as a result of a lot more effort on your part, and help from you whenever you can supply it, that we will be able to sell more of each edition, both in London and, more importantly, in the rest of the country.

There are so many areas of the country we never reach and then there are places where the amount sent is, in our opinion, ridiculously small. One such place is Manchester, where it is left to one or two people to try to get the paper to the whole of the gay population of that city. It’s crazy that we should sell almost double the quantity we sell in Manchester in Brighton. Even Reading sells almost as many as the major city of the north of England. And it’s not just Manchester that has such poor distribution. Liverpool, at present, has less copies sent to it than Bath.

Of course, we are not trying to put down the people who already do as much as they possibly can in those places where our circulation is so disastrous, but we appeal to all gay people who live in places where the paper is rarely seen to help alter this situation. There are a number of ways you can do this for us. Firstly, you can sell them for us, whether in your local gay pubs or clubs, or just to your circle of friends and acquaintances.

Hachette
Group of Companies U.K.    4 Regent Place London
                           W1R 6BH
Mr. A. MacDougall,
Collective Editorial
"GAY NEWS"
19, London Street,
LONDON W2 1HL              6th September, 1972

Dear Mr. MacDougall,

                    Your letter of August 10th, concerning your publication "GAY NEWS" and addressed to Hachette Gotch Limited, has been passed to us, as we are the subsidiary of Hachette dealing with the distribution of periodicals in this country.

                    Unfortunately, we are unable to accept distribution of this publication, as we do not feel it would fit in with our existing range.

                    Nevertheless we wish you success in your new venture.

                    Yours sincerely,

                   Lynette Holland (Mrs.)
               Secretary to the Managing Director

Secondly, if you are not into selling copies yourself, perhaps you know of someone who might, or maybe you could approach gay pubs and clubs in your area to sell them for us. Thirdly, you can send us the names and addresses of any newsagents and bookshops you think may be interested in stocking us. It would be better still if you could approach them for us. Fourthly, please send us details of newspaper wholesalers and small distributors that operate in your part of the country. Lastly, you could take out a subscription and let all your friends see the paper after you have read it, and then encourage them to also take out a subscription. And, as a last thought, you could send us the names and addresses of any people you know who, in your opinion, would like to see Gay News, and would like us to send them a sample copy of a back number so that they can see what we are up to, and all being well, they might decide that they want to see the paper regularly, especially if they live in a more isolated part of the country.

We feel that it is important that Gay News reaches as many places and people as possible. It wasn’t so long ago that nearly all of us had to live ‘double lives’, but times have changed and although the situation is still far from ideal, at least not as many of us have to live in dread and in isolation for being what we naturally are. So it is essential that Gay News takes its place alongside of all the other newspapers and periodicals at newsagents, street vendors pitches and bookshops. Gay News has ‘come out’ and must stay out in the open and not be relegated to just a few sympathetic retailers and pom shops. In time we hope that we will be joined by other gay publications, and not just the ones that are out to exploit you.

It looks now that distribution will always be our responsibility (with a little help from our friends and you). In past issues we have shown you the ‘polite’ and ‘understanding’ but unco-operative letters from major distributors who have refused to handle us. In the columns of this editorial we reproduce two more such letters. The addresses of these firms should be legible, so may we suggest that you write to these companies and tell them that wide distribution is necessary for the paper, and also let them know about the difficulties you have encountered in obtaining copies.

And anything else you may care to add. We suggest you do this as soon as possible; it just might make someone at Seymours or one of the other organisations such as W.H.Smiths wake up to the reality that it is not just us that want Gay News to be as widely available as possible.

We dislike to be continually appealing for your help, but if we are to survive, we must have your support. This is your paper, don’t forget, and there are no nameless, faceless people trying to make a fortune out of you. Nor is it the aim of Gay News to subvert you with one particular political viewpoint. Your political opinions are your affairs, just as the ones we individually hold are ours. There is a need though for a change in the existing legislation that affects gay people, but one does not have to subscribe to just one political party or organisation to attempt to obtain these much needed alterations to the statute books.

Eventually, through more efficient and wider distribution of the paper around the whole of the country we hope to alleviate most of our money problems. And add to this the increased advertising which we hope to attract, and maybe soon we will be in a more secure financial position. But at present we are very short of cash. And what national newspaper isn’t. But we feel that what we are attempting to provide through the news and information that appears in our pages is something that papers such as The Times, The Sun do not print, and they have no positive plans to include such items in their columns, no matter what the need. So if you feel that we are a valuable asset to the gay community, please help us to carry on, in any way that you are able.

Seymour Press Limited

Our Ref: RAW/CC             7th September 1972

Mr. Denis E. Lemon,
Gay News,
19 London Street,
LONDON W2 1HL

Dear Sir,

     Thank you for your letter dated 4th September and copies of GAY NEWS.

     We have considered carefully the possibility of distributing your publication, but feel that a really specialised operation is called for which could best be operated by yourselves.

                    Yours faithfully,
                    SEYMOUR PRESS LIMITED

                    R. A. WESTWOOD
                    Director.

Since the completion of GN No 7 and the appearance of this issue, we have gone through a number of changes in our organisational structure. At times this has led to some bitter quarrels and truth games amongst ourselves, but all is now resolved. The result is that we feel that Gay News will be a more effective and streamlined operation, which will mean both a more comprehensive and objective system for the gathering in of news and articles, as well as generally tightening up our office procedures. The last point being somewhat boring but necessary, although we hope to avoid all the bureaucracy that so many organisations fall foul of. The addition of new members to our editorial collective, who bring with them both experience and new ideas, will in time make it possible for us to boast a ‘new improved’ Gay News.

There is also a good possibility that we will be moving to larger offices next month (at no extra cost, we hope). Those of you who have braved 79 steps up to our present office will understand why it is necessary for this move, and will be relieved to hear that our new premises will be on basement level.

We apologise for not letting you know what happened to the Biograph Review in the last issue. We leave it to Julian D. to explain what has been going on in his column in this edition. Also Denis Lemon will be commenting on the recent legal proceedings he has unfortunately been involved in.

Some of you may have noticed a number of design errors in GN No 7. These were due to the fact that the collective had to get the paper together, for the first time, without the invaluable aid of our resident designer. Everything is back to ‘normal’ in this issue though, we are glad to say.

We hope you all find something interesting and informative in the pages of this issue. But please remember that it is basically up to you whether or not we succeed in being useful and entertaining, not forgetting too that we need all the help you can give us in just keeping the paper alive, well and ‘kicking’.

Take care of yourselves, write to us, and to misquote the words of a past Gay News ‘queen of the month’; ‘Come up and see us sometime’.

So many of you complained when we went back to 12 pages again last issue that we’ve relented and given you 16 again. Apart from anything else we couldn’t have fitted everything in otherwise. I only wish you were as eager to send in your spare cash as you are to moan when we try and do something better.

BEDFORD, PLYMOUTH, STOKE, DONCASTER, YORK, ABERDEEN, CARDIFF, BOURNEMOUTH

In some of these towns., Gay News is not as available as we would like. If you live in these towns and want to sell ‘Gay News’ in bulk (10 or more copies) at 7p each, write or phone GAY NEWS, 19 London Street, London W2. Tel. 01-402-7805

Editorial

19720901-02Paragraph one was going to be about our little bust and its implications for us and other small newspapers (news story, GN5). However, the matter is still being dealt with by the magistrates court, so any comment from us would be in contempt of court. When the case has been heard we’ll tell you all about it.

Paragraph two might have been about money again, but you’ve heard all that before . . .

So instead we’d like to congratulate the London Evening Standard News on using the word GAY in their headlines without apology, quotation marks or explanations when covering the bank robbery in the States (Wed Aug 3rd). No newsagent will ever be able to complain about displaying the word gay in his/her shop any more. And at last the ordinary media are using our own non-derogatory term to describe us instead of insulting words like “queer” or clinical chillers like “invert” or “homosexual”.

As to the incidents themselves – well, you can read our report in this issue. At the time of writing this, however, we have only the facts published in the straight press, but their treatment of them seems to have been clear and unbiased. One can only hope that the public will follow the lead of the press in not connecting the gunmen’s homosexuality with their gun-toting, except as incidental factors, though it does seem as if the story made so many front pages because the gunmen were gay – gay is apparently news these days.

On a lighter note, we’d like to take issue with the gentleman who said ‘the name Gay News is a con; there’s nothing really gay in it’. Well, dear, what were you expecting? Pull-out knitting patterns for your jazzy new tank-top? who do you think we are Cosmopollution?

The nub of the charge is that we review films, books, records and the like because we think they’re good (or bad) whether they’re specifically gay or not. And that we haven’t, to date, doled out any ‘dishy’ pin-ups or chatty columns on make-up or clothes. Or leathers and chains for that matter.

And the answer to that is that we are a paper rather than a magazine. That the whole role-playing bitch-versus-butch game seems to us to be rather a waste of time. That people are people – so there’s not too much need to concentrate on specifically gay things just because they’re gay, ignoring the quality and conditioning effect. And in any case, there are a number of new magazines appearing at the moment which cover the lighter side of things as their main concern.

The main function and concern of the paper is serious — though we hope to be fun as well (with ‘Biograph’, ‘2032’, ‘More than one Alice’, and more to come, including a possible gay horror story). But the point we do take from the comment is that we aren’t sexy enough. We aren’t.

Has anybody any ideas on how to make a paper sexy without falling into the traps of treating people as bed-fodder (or rather, wank-fodder) of perpetuating myths about ‘types’ and so on?

The other thing about us that takes other people some time to get used to is our totally informal way of working, with no specific jobs allocated to anyone apart from vaguely defined areas of responsibility. We all do a little bit of everything at some time or another, which is lots of fun when it works and awful when it doesn’t – hence the curious numbering of pages in our last issue!

But it does mean that questions such as ‘Can I speak to the person who deals with . . .” don’t mean all that much. Any of us could answer most of the queries you might bring up, though we do have specialists in a few areas. And it does seem as if we will get more job-orientated in future, if only because each of us is developing some pet-hate or pet-love jobs. Perhaps it will then be a little easier for other people to work with us.

We also have now got our First Phantom Phoner – he/she just phones in from a call box and then waits to be cut off as the pips run out. One day soon he/she will speak. Or something. We’ll keep you posted. Seriously, though! there’s no need to be shy.

Finally, to answer a few queries raised in the last issue’s letters. When replying to box numbers, it isn’t necessary to stamp each box reply because we collect replies for a week or so and send them off together in one large envelope. It would be nice if people placing ads would enclose one such large stamped, self-addressed envelope – it might speed up your replies.

We’re very sorry that the gentleman who thought we were a CHE publication has had to wait this long to realise what he’s missing in Battersea . . .

To Richard Webster in Durham . . . it is an economically impossible job!

To everyone else, thanks, keep it up, and good luck. Byee!


As you may have noticed, there are 16 pages in this issue. That won’t happen every time, but we got lots of luvverly advertising this time. And to make room for it and all the goodies we intended to print, we had to have more pages. On which we spent the extra cash from the ads. So – we’re still as broke as ever. Still, that’s life. Hope you like it. Wish we could do it more often . . .

Editorial

05-197208XX 1We said it once. We are saying it again. We are short of money, and we need more. Not to expand the paper. Not to improve it. Just to keep it in existence. And we wouldn’t need to say that if our shops paid us promptly.

Most news is pessimistic — which is pretty well inevitable in the present situation of gay people. We are, after all, a frightened, fighting, persecuted minority, especially at the moment.

But …. where is the optimism, the creative side of gay life? What are we doing that is positive and fun? Not much.

The collective has heard a lot in these past few weeks about why we ought not to have started a gay newspaper, about how we are singling out gay people and setting them apart from everyone else, about how we are publicising the elements of gay life that many of us would like to forget or pretend didn’t exist. We’ve also had favourable comment to far outweigh this. But we feel we ought to make it clear why we disagree with our detractors on this point.

Firstly, The business of creating gay groups, papers, and so forth, serves a very great need. If someone thinks they are the only homosexual in the world, publicly gay things show them that they are not, show them things they can be part of. If someone is in any kind of trouble because they are gay, then that affects all of us, because we are gay too, and “there but for the grace of god go I”. We must be in a position to help one another.

Secondly. The gay scene that does exist is largely created for gay people by non-gay people, who do not understand us and our way of life as well as we do. They are in it because they know that if a place is passable but also gay, it will make them money. Mind you, we are getting more discerning. The Hummabum Club only stayed open a short while – people realised that it was a rip-off operation and weren’t going to fall for it.

But because the places for us to meet are few, and so many of us are isolated from one another because we do not feel able to be what we are openly at all times, we tend to be aggressively single-minded about getting someone home to bed when we do meet en masse. And this leads to the unthinking and inhuman treatment of other people as bed-fodder, judging them solely on the basis of their look and style, not as people.

We don’t like that attitude very much. It’s so much nicer going to bed with people you like, people you know, people you care about – in other words, to have friends you get to bed with now and again.

Thirdly. We believe in honesty. At all times, in all places. It’s incredibly hard. It hurts, especially if you’re not used to it. But it is really worth it. It really is worth the effort. So playing straight is not our game – indeed, we try not to play any games, or if we do, at least be aware of them.

So, at the moment, there is very little of value …. for the simple reason that anything gay people have has been granted or provided after much pressure by the very begrudging majority. A majority that is ignorant of us, doesn’t like us, and doesn’t want us. So we end up with what they think we deserve — and most of it is very dingy and expensive tat. If we really want anything of lasting value, we must create it ourselves; get together and do it. If that means staying an isolated minority for a while, that’s exactly what they want us to be. But it also means that we can show them, prove to them that we can do very well without them thank you, that we don’t need them. That we have every bit as much to offer to the human race as they have, and if they want it, they must come and get it. We here at Gay News don’t want two worlds, gay and non-gay. We want one world for everybody. For all that to happen, they must see us, know us, respect us, and actively want to be part of what we are doing as much as some of us want to be part of what they are doing (and that involves conventional society changing too – we don’t want to be part of it as it stands).

We made our beginning with a newspaper. Others do it in the various movements (though it would help if the movements stopped bitching one another and actually got together to do something). We would hope that the paper will stay out of those inter-movements politics, bridge some of the gaps, and perhaps become a nucleus for the more positive side of gay culture. At the moment we are preoccupied with trying to survive. But what we want to do …… to be really national, with regional offices, to have really much less cramped premises here, to start a counselling service for people in trouble, to run a club. We get letters, lots of them, that show how cut off, how lonely, how tired-of-things-as-they-are people are. We want to do something about it. All of us, all of you.

If we could all get together and do something like that, we could spawn a whole new beginning for straight society as well as for ourselves. It’s a dream. It’s a long way into the future. It could start now. But does anybody care?

Where Your Paper Goes From Here

02-197206XX 1This is the second issue of Gay News. There is still a long way to go. Gay women do not feature anywhere near enough. There are many areas of the country we do not reach. There is not sufficient money in the kitty to expand either the size of the distribution of the paper. All these things may be remedied in time, but with your involvement the paper will become what you want it to be much faster. We of the collective only ever intended to give you the paper and let you decide what it should become – by writing, subscribing, donating, working with us and eventually supplanting us. But before we go any further we must look at what could stop the paper happening.

The most obvious barrier to the continuance and expansion of the paper is the legal situation. Technically, anything which helps bring gay men into contact with one another can be construed as unlawful, however well-meant the attempt. Any publication which openly discusses sex and sexuality, especially when related to gay men and women, might be judged obscene. It is this which has forced us to abandon, for the time being, our plan to print the story “Shirley Temple Knows”, which we promised you for this issue. It is this which forces us to reiterate that, although we will continue to run a personal ads column, we retain the right to refuse or amend them as we see fit and according to our legal advice. Any ad which states specific sexual tastes is likely to attract unfavorable attention from the law, whilst those which seek only companionship, friendship, or someone to share a flat or holiday, may not. We will take all the precautions we can to ensure that our advertisers are protected.

The second major barrier is, of course, money. We aren’t going to put up our prices or rates unless rising costs force us to, and so it is unlikely that the paper will ever make any significant profit. This means that there will only ever be a limited amount of cash in the kitty with which we can begin to expand the paper and it’s availability. If you think that what the paper is trying to do (by its very existence) – that is, end our isolation from one another and defend our way of life – is worthwhile, then the paper needs to be available over a much wider area than it is now, and it needs a much larger number of pages. And in order to do this we need money, so that the paper can be planned well ahead instead of existing from issue to issue. So this is an appeal for donations, large and small, backers, advertisers, etc., and anything any of you can do to help us find them. We know you’ve been asked for your money thousands of times before – only this time it isn’t so somebody can do something they want to, it is so that you can do something for all of us, for yourselves, all over the country. And that isn’t just a semantic difference.

It would also be incredibly helpful if one of you (at least) would come and join us full-time in order to work almost wholly on getting the paper around the country. There isn’t much money in it worry the name, just enough for survival, so it would have to be a labour of love. Would any lady or gentleman like the job?

Afterthoughts Editorial