Worthy of our Cause
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.
Valuable To The Young
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Support it Deserves?
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.
Not Just Survive
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.