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.

Provincial Info

As promised a few issues ago, here is another round of provincial info. We shall be printing more at regular intervals, just as fast as you send it.

BATH
Pub: The Regency (opposite Theatre Royal)
Club: Georges Club.

CHELTENHAM
New Twenty Club, 20 High Street, Telephone 25821.

PLYMOUTH
Pubs: The Lockyer, Derry’s Clock, Lockyer Street (Oak Lounge – Back Bar),
The Phoenix, off Union Street,
The Valletort.

NEWCASTLE
Pubs: Eldon Grill (Variety Bar) opposite Grey’s Monument, Grey Street.
Royal Turks Head (Red Rover Bar), Grey Street.
Grapes Vaults, Grey Street.
Royal Court Grill, Bigg Market (rough)
Chancellors Head, Bigg Market County Hotel (Nancy’s Bar), foot of Westgate Road.

SUNDERLAND
Club: Ro-Ko-Ko, The Promenade, Roker, Sunderland.

LANCASTER
Pub: Farmers Arms, King Street. “Landlord pro gay”.

SCARBOROUGH
Pub: The Giff Inn, Huntriss Row.
Hotel: The Granby, 1 Queen Street, reasonably priced private gay hotel.

LIVERPOOL
Pub: The Lisbon, Victoria Street
Club: New Bear’s Paw, off Lord Street, near British Home Stores.

CHESTER
The bar of the Blossom Hotel.

WINDSOR
Pubs: The Ship and the Three Tuns, both near the Guildhall.

BLACKPOOL
Lucy’s Bar, Talbot Square.

MORECOMBE
Mason’s Arms. Queen Street, Thursday through Sunday.

PRESTON
Pubs: Grove Hotel, Fylde Road.
Bull and Royal, Cockpit Bar. Men only.

BLACKBURN
Pub: Merchant’s Hotel, Darwen Street, by GPO. Drag shows.
Partly gay club: Top Hat Club.

NORWICH
Pub: Studio Four, Anglia Studios.

BEDFORD
Pub: The Barley Mow, Bromham Road.

MANCHESTER
Pub: Union Hotel, Princess Street, women, men and drag.
Rembrandt, Sackville Street, Trafford. Back Bar and mostly men.
Cavalcade, junction Wilmslow Road and Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, Sunday lunch time.
New York, Richmond Street, behind Union Hotel. Women and men.
Mechanics, Sackville Street.
Clubs: Samanthas, back Piccadilly (off Newton Street). Ban on women and admittance restricted to members and guests only.
Picador, Bradshaw Street, Shude Hill.
Rockingham, Queen Street.

NOTTINGHAM
Pub: Roebuck, Mansfield Road. “Members only’’ Bar on the left – tell them you’re gay! – the landlady is too.
Club: Mario’s Restaurant, Stenford Street, off Castlegate.

LEEDS
Pubs: Great Northern and Hope and Anchor
Club: Charley’s Briggate. Members and guests. Free in the week, pricey at weekends.
Mostly men.

Liberation Landslide In Debate

Saturday November 11th saw a house packed to the gallery at Newcastle University for what was billed as the “Gay Liberation Debate”, with a local Methodist minister, The Rev. J. M. Furness, proposing that “This House deplores the Emergence of Homosexual Self-Confession and Self-Justification”. Mr Furness who assures us that most of his knowledge of the subject was gained from books borrowed from the library that morning, spent quite a lot of time trying to define who these homosexuals were. And by the time he had excluded you-know-what in public schools, in the armed services and in prison cells, his case that homosexuality was an aberration the flaunting of which struck at the very roots of society began to look a little thin. By the time he reached the responsibilities of older men with families to fight against the corruption of the young, it began to feel a little thin. And when he got to the bit about homosexuals deserving sympathy not condemnation, but that we should, presumably like the people with only one arm to whom he had compared us, be neither seen nor heard, it was clear that his seconder was not going to have an easy task.

After this it seemed a bit unfair on him that Michael Barnes opposing on behalf of Newcastle GLF should start off in a clarion-call voice and style resembling Henry V on the field of Agincourt. He was certainly going to be heard and he made it clear that sympathy was the last thing he had in mind, unless it was sympathy with any homosexual who should be unlucky enough to turn to Mr Furness for advice. Not a beer-glass rattled through his rousing speech and he made sure every member of the audience knew that there was still discrimination against us in law, socially and in our jobs, discrimination which would continue unless gays did come out and fight for the right to live in a way which others regarded as their birthright, fight against inhumanity like that of the Newcastle employer who recently announced that he’d not rest while a “fucking poof’ continued working in his office.

Richard Webster, secretary of Tyneside CHE, seconding for Michael under the Gay Lib banner (who said Brighton is the only place where there’s co-operation?) would have a hard job to knock down Dr A. S. Wigfield, Consultant Venereologist at Newcastle General Hospital, who seconded for the proposition. This wasn’t one of those venereological ogres but someone, evidently nearly as unhappy with the motion as he was with the VD figures, who in a witty speech delighted the audience with some of the best bad puns of a long time and condemned the commercial exploitation of sex in terms with which many gays would be happy to agree.

But it was a pity that his peroration against permissiveness was rather spoilt by a cheerful inability to resist a dig at the idea of gay marriage with the comment that we seemed to be wanting “our bride bartered on both sides”.

Richard was against “permissiveness” as well, but on rather different grounds. What right, he wanted to know, had Society to take upon itself to “permit” fellow human beings to be themselves? If (as he pinned a GLF badge on one side of his nice new suit, and a CHE one on the other) by confessing himself in public he had done something to help just one other gay person to feel proud of himself as a fellow human being, he’d have done something worthwhile. But as for self-justification, that term came from those who believed we had something — the plague? – we needed to justify. He knew he had not.

After which we sat back with bated breath waiting for what the Floor would say. One brave girl made a brief speech in defence of married life, and then… silence. Throughout the evening scarcely anyone had nipped out for a pee, hardly a whisper of disinterest had reached the platform (except while Mr Furness was consulting his borrowed books), yet no one else would speak. Had we all been so brilliant that there was nothing left to say? Had everyone a raging thirst? Could it be that all these liberated students weren’t liberated enough to speak on such a delicate topic? We don’t know. We don’t know either what the voting figures were: there was no point in counting all those hands when they were raised so overwhelmingly against the motion and in our favour.

Library Goes Gay

NEWCASTLE: The city’s library service is now subscribing to Gay News and putting it on display — but only at the central library, and only after the paper has been vetted by “a senior librarian”.

This follows Newcastle’s GLF’s repeated demands for the library to stock GN with all its other periodicals and newspapers.

At its city’s libraries group, Councillor Mrs Marion Abrahams said it would “corrupt children” if GN were put on display in an open room.

She said: “Young boys might get hold of it, and it would not be suitable for them.”

Councillor Edward Pugh, the group’s chairman, said: “We have to come to terms with a modern community. It may be a tragic age we are living in, but these are the facts of life.

“We are beginning to pull things out from under the carpet where they were brushed by the Victorians who refused to face them.”

ED: Thanks to Newcastle GLF for the type of guerilla action needed to get people like libraries to stock GN, which is, after all, a serious newspaper.

It’s this sort of repeated request that makes libraries and bookstore owners/managers realise that Gay News is a newspaper as valid as any other. If only more people would work as hard as Newcastle GLF on WH Smiths, John Menzies and Selfridges, all of whom have refused to handle GN, even though they won’t stock GN or wholesale it while carrying the usual newsagent’s rack of soft porn, to give in. This is the sort of way where a newspaper that is already used in sociology courses will be given the shelf-space we think it deserves.

“COME TOGETHER?”

04-197208XX 04Durham Gay Liberation Front is not dead, only sleeping. At present there is no demand for a GLF here it seems that the gay population is in the enviable state of not needing liberation! The few people who still come to our meetings also attend Newcastle GLF – which is flourishing – so it was my original intention to disband the group. However, I have been persuaded to change my mind, and we are just suspending meetings until a demand for them occurs.

We have just succeeded in placing an advertisement in the Northern Echo, and are planning a publicity drive in the Durham student population next year: if we obtain sufficient interest the group meetings will be restarted, and if not then we will be sadly forced into liquidation.

First published in “Muther Grumble”, the North-East’s Other Newspaper.