Irish Oppression

I sent the letter printed below to the Irish Times, The Dublin liberal daily. Needless to say it wasn’t published, although they happily publish letters detailing methods of deporting Ulster Protestants that would make General Amin quake. A similar letter was sent to the Belfast Telegraph, the Belfast liberal daily, and the same applies.

It is ironic since two of the Republic’s favourite sons were homosexual – Oscar Wilde and Roger Casement, though if you publicly believe that the patriot Casement was gay and his ‘black diaries’ true, you’d get short shrift from today’s patriots.

Ironically it was a former Ulster Unionist MP, Montgomery Hyde, who wrote “The Other Love” of which GN published an extract recently.

Remember in Ireland homosexuals must be political because the laws are vicious.

Trevor

Belfast.

Dear Sir,

Those concerned with civil liberties should be made aware of the peculiar situation facing homosexuals in N. Ireland. Though governed by Mr Whitelaw and sole legislative control being exercised in Westminster, the unchanged N. Ireland law is still in operation. Thus we have the peculiar situation where a Westminster MP is liable to life imprisonment in N. Ireland for an act that is perfectly permissible in London!

The Unionist party in their role of supervising institutionalised inequality were incapable of removing such penal iniquity, even five years after the reform in England.

Not surprisingly they were ably supported in mutual silence by all the nationalist groupings. One might think that such grotesque inequality between Britain and N. Ireland would have galvanised an organisation like the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA). But NICRA said and did nothing, its credence as a genuine civil rights organisation being further eroded. An undefined term of internment and life imprisonment are remarkably similar and equally worthy of denunciation when those living in Britain are liable to neither.

The Ministry of Community Relations ought to give the Belfast homosexual community some token of gratitude for the uncompromisingly non-sectarianism it has displayed in the last three years. Not only has it remained united but it has also had the capacity to unite elements of the majority Catholic and Protestant community, albeit in common antagonism!

I recognise that changing laws does not change society, but in this case it is a vital first step. No organisations for self-help or external re-education can emerge while potential members remain liable to such harsh penalties. And only when that happens will it be possible to integrate homosexuals into society and erase the negative and self-destructive features of their behaviour.

It goes without saying that the same laws apply in Southern Ireland. As letters such as this are seldom if ever published, the matter may still be an unsubject, fit only for medical journals. If it is permissible to discuss the issue let us not hear the woeful cries of those who legislate by sloth, that there is no demand for such changes or worse still, that many homosexuals approve of the present law. It is an interesting coincidence that the homosexual minority is something on a par in numbers with the Protestant community. Where a lot has been written of the relatively minor legal discrimination they suffer, nothing has been written of the social and legal position of homosexuals.

Hopefully, Republican homosexuals will not be forced into some kind of reform queue behind Protestants, women, emigrants, etc. Instead a co-operative effort needs to be undertaken of all those minority groupings in society who are pushed around – to overcome the intransigence of a few and the ignorance of most. Otherwise individual freedom becomes a market commodity, traded in by church and state and political lobby. Back in N. Ireland where reform is largely there for the asking, a wise campaign exposing the anomalies in the law is immediately required.

Trevor McAville

Your Letters

05-197208XX 1Cliftonville
Margate
Kent

Dear Friends,

Having lived in the borough of Margate for a year and a half, I am finding it not as dead as I at first thought. Gay people are gradually turning up here and there, and trying to form some sort of social get together. It is always a slow process, as people still seem to like the ‘exciting’ cottage pick-up rather than respectable social introductions. Love is a very beautiful thing, if used properly and wisely.

As a yogi priest or monk, I have found out a lot about life in my thirty-nine years in this period of my full spiritual development. Gay people can love God without any feeling of guilt, as long as they are true to their nature, sincere and loyal, and steer away from man-made religions and all the unhappiness and guilt they have caused.

My personal advice to gay people is to form loyal balanced friendships with as many people as possible, with or without sexual love. To keep healthy trim bodies as far as possible, and to love God through nature and peace.

Clive


Reading Gay Alliance
Room 7
30 London Road
Reading, Berks.

Dear Gay News,

Firstly, many congratulations on the launching and production of this much-needed paper. We in R.G.A. are much impressed by what you have so far produced and wish you all success for many editions to come.

Reading Gay Alliance is a group of gay people formed to promote the interests of homosexuals in our area. We are an umbrella organisation consisting of CHE and GLF members, both men and women, including people who do not belong to any existing established group.

Fortnightly we publish a newsletter for all interested parties, called Gay Arrow, and this, and any other information about us, can be obtained by writing to the above address.

Yours very sincerely

Reading Gay Alliance.


Pittville Circus,
Cheltenham.

Dear Collective,

Some random thoughts about you, provoked by No. 3. First, thank you for existing. The personal ad column alone should have demonstrated to the MPs you visited that you perform a valuable social function. With a background much like that of ‘Neville Gadd’, I too wondered what I was letting myself in for. I have so far only found one item offensive, and that was the advertisement for the Maltese meat market in No. 3. If the law ever descends on you, it will have been provoked not surely by your ads (though they may provide the legal pretext) but by the degrading tone of letters such as this. I wonder if others thought it inappropriate for what aspires to be a national newspaper?

I appreciate that as a collective your right hand may not know what its left hand is doing, but I wish one of them could spare the time for a bit of proofreading! If I lived in London. I’d come and do the job for you free. It’s a shock to see Samaritans’ spelt ‘Samaratians’ in a headline! Accuracy of detail is, I’m afraid, an essential element in the confidence one puts in a newspaper.

It would help if you mentioned whether answers to ads have to be individually stamped one might want to answer two at once or enclose one in a letter to you, and presumably you forward them under separate cover.

Some of your statements I find very baffling. How could Doug Pollard find ‘unpleasant and unnecessary moral attitudes’ in that valuable article on VD? It would need an advanced case of persecution mania to discover any moral attitude whatever in that clinically dispassionate prose. Let’s have more of it!

Finally. ‘Neville Gadd’ is missing a lot in life, I fear, through his preoccupation with the ‘age barrier’ whatever that is. The fact is surely that the number of years one has lived hat precious little to do with one’s value and charm as a human being. Different aspects of the human entity age at different rates, some people improve physically as they mature; some seem to grow younger with age. I know of one 44″-chested butch of 50 who is twice the man he was as a sallow short-sighted priggish bookworm of 25. I wonder whom of the two Neville would prefer?

David Blount


Campaign for Homosexual Equality,
28 Kennedy Street,
Manchester.

Dear Mr. N

Thank you for your letter received the other day with regard to “Gay News”. I am sorry that you did not like this publication but would point out that it is an independent newspaper and in no way a CHE enterprise. I am, therefore sending your letter on to “Gay News” for them to deal with.

Yours sincerely.
Paul Temperton
General Secretary.

London, N.4.

Dear Sir,

I am a member of CHE and belong to Group 12 London. Last Thursday evening I bought a copy of a paper called Gay News no. 3. Well of all silly papers I ever read.

On page 3 there is a small advert about “Danger Police at Work” in toilets. Does this mean all other toilets are safe?

On page 8 there is an article on V.D., which does not give one much confidence about going to be treated. In 30 years of going to be treated never has anyone ever said anything to me. Also on page 8 the Samaritans comes in for a bash Where does one go for advice? Can you suggest?

On page 7 there is an article on the “Biograph”. So gay so wonderful. But no mention of the people who get a good bashing there.

Also on page 7 there is an article on the CHE correspondence column being used for procuring sex. Does this mean that CHE will help a person if letters are opened by Police?

I would go on if this fell into the hands of a young person it would do damage. For instance the address of two cottages to add to list. I never knew that cottages were gay in Battersea Park.

I though that CHE was to bring people’s mind above cottage level.

If anyone wanted to prove that homosexuals are dirty and depraved here is the very paper.

Yours with Disgust.

B.N


London S.E.11.

Dear Gay News.

I have just read your first issue and would like to reply to Lord Arran’s comments.

Whilst he expresses concern for our “sociological and spiritual position” he fails to see why we need our own newspapers.

Homosexuals are a part of the community but within this we are a distinct social group, whose existence society would suppress. The images of ourselves with which we live are those fostered by heterosexuals and it is a lack of a common Gay identity, and the resultant isolation which has led to the personal problems of so many homosexuals.

Straight people have the security of an established culture with which to re-act. and if we are to develop fully as individuals we must assert our own cultural identity at every opportunity.

It is for this reason that your paper is of importance to us all.

T. Howard.


“POSSE”
16, St. Saviourgate
York

Dear Gay News.

The paper seems to be going quite well; we’ve sold all bar one or two of No. 3. and people are coming back to pick up copies of Nos. 1 and 2. It’s a pity but we’re not making contact with many of the people who’re buying the paper (even though Arthur and I look anything but straight goodness knows), lots of people flash past and pick one up embarrassedly like buying Durex in the Chemists. Still, maybe time will tell.

WOOF (of Posse)


Knightsbridge,
London. S.W.1.

Dear Gay News,

I would like to congratulate you on getting a gay paper published for the benefit of gay people and after reading the first issue (I missed the second one being abroad on holiday) I feel that it is something that has long been needed. I only hope that you do not fold up like so many other mags have done in the past, i.e., Jeremey, Spartacus etc.

The price is reasonable, the cost of the ads are not excessive and the news items and features appear to be very good and easy reading. The main thing is that your paper is a means of being in touch with other gay people which can’t be bad and can only bring relief and relaxation with the possibility of meeting others like one self.

You may possibly be able to give an answer or advice to the following query.

I have been told by lots of acquaintances that quite a lot of youngsters prefer older men for company, but whilst I am not senile! (just over 40) I have tried unsuccessfully by means of ads, visits to pubs (which I am not very fond of) joining CHE, rather boring at times, without success. I wouldn’t say I was ugly but as far as I can see most youngsters prefer people their own age or thereabouts and I am not blaming them, however unfortunately I am one of the gays who are much happier in young peoples company, providing they are genuine and not making it obvious that they are tolerating one for their generosity or what they can get out of them.

Anyway it is nice to be able to put on paper ones’ thoughts and if I can be of any help in running your paper, (not selling I’m afraid), I will be only too pleased to do so in an administrative capacity, home typing etc.

I only hope I have not bored you with my letter or offended anyone and would like to wish you all the success with Gay News and hope it continues to be published and gets better as time goes on.

Charles G. Brown

If any reader wishes to contact the writer of the above letter, please send your letter care of Gay News and we will forward it on to him.


Gateshead,
Co. Durham.

Dear Gay News,

You are doing an absolutely splendid job which I would have though to be economically impossible and almost as impossible to get out a gay paper that’s representative and not dominated by one particular line.

I only hope you get the support you deserve — I’ll certainly do my best to get other people to buy it.

Richard Webster


Coleraine,
Co. Derry.
Northern Ireland

Dear Gay News.

With Ulster’s other troubles always in the headlines. who thinks of the plight of the province’s gay population?

First, the law. Under Northern Irish law, we are allowed to breath – as long as it’s in private, with consenting oxygen molecules over the age of twenty-one.

The first convenor of the now dead Belfast C.H.E. group wrote to the last two prime ministers, and received similar answers, to the effect that legal reform didn’t seem really necessary, as the old law wasn’t used very much, and anyway there didn’t appear to be any real demand for reform.

That about sums up the official attitude. The attitude of the general public is about the same as in England – the working class don’t give a monkey’s either way. the middle class are against any change in a nice system that suits them. How does one convince them that a bad. stupid law should be scrapped, rather than kept as a curiosity?

There is also the lack of facilities to consider.

Belfast has one (yes. I said one!) gay bar. There were two others about fifty-fifty, gay and straight, but they are suffering from a slight case of bomb damage at the moment. For the wanderer benighted in the backwoods, the last resort (only fucking resort!) is the lounge of the Royal Avenue Hotel.

Queen’s (?) University has a flourishing G.L.F. group – address on the back page. Drop in on them if you’re passing through, they’ll be glad to see you.

And if you’re unlucky enough to be passing through Coleraine (The wages of sin is death!) and if you’re male and under thirty, well I’m sure Gay News would let you have my address.

Also, if any reader is starting his or her studies at the New University of Ulster at Coleraine, and is interested in forming a group in this area. I would be thoroughly delighted to hear from him or her, or them.

Dear Gay News, please get my name right this time! Your last misprint, for some reason, caused extreme mirth to a straight friend – odd how one misplaced ‘u’ can have that effect.

Sam Frizzell, jnr.

No Freedom to Love

“There is a sense in which all law is nothing more nor less than a gigantic confidence trick. Law is not enforceable at all if a sufficient number of people disregard it, and this is true of all laws.” Quinton Hogg

01-197205XX 8Laws which interfere with the individual’s sexuality and sexual expression will only continue to exist so long as we allow it- the will not be changed FOR us. Gay News intends to campaign for changes, since these matters are not, nor should they be, a realm in which legal controls belong. We welcome the stand taken by the Quakers in calling for the age of consent to be lowered to 14, but take the view that the law has no place in anyone’s sex life, and therefore the best sex laws are no sex laws at all: that would make us all equal, and leave no room for the suppression of any minority.

If you are a gay man, you cannot legally have sex before your 21st birthday, but if you’re a gay woman, or a heterosexual you can do so as soon as you are 16. The law is intended to prevent adolescent boys from being seduced by older men. They are apparently trusted not to succumb to a woman of any age against their own will, or if they do, it’s only a private misdemenour, not a criminal offence. It presumes that he couldn’t say no. But they can be prosecuted for seducing one another. Confused yet?

…Obscenity laws exist to repress normal sexual desires which are somehow, in law, equated with depravity. N.C.C.L. Guide to Civil Liberty

The law reflects the traditional male attitude to gay men – on the surface, we are despised, within, we are feared. Because within themselves they see us – their own heavily controlled love and desire for their own sex – and they fear.

The 1967 Act does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland – the law remains as it was in both these areas.

Sexual Offences Act 1956: section 32: “It is an offence for a man persistently to solicit or importune in a public place for immoral purposes.”

When the act was passed, this section

And remember… “Law is not enforceable at all if a sufficient number of people disregard it, and this is true of all laws.”

MEANT a man pimping for a woman. The law is almost never used in that sense, but to stop you picking up a guy you fancy whenever and wherever you may see him. It is never used to stop a man picking up a woman, even if he is offering her money for her services. She is in the wrong then.

Maximum penalties for some acts committed by older men with minors were increased by the 1967 Act.

Policemen can close down our pubs and clubs, and raid our parties more or less at will, if we are not behaving like heterosexuals. Because they have a duty to “preserve the peace”. Or if the backhander from the owner isn’t enough.

Publication of advertisements for the encouraging of homosexual practises is at present an offence, depending on the outcome of the It appeal currently being heard by the House of Lords.

It doesn’t matter if you are all over 21 and consenting, if there are more than two of you, it’s illegal.

In short, you can’t pick up anyone except in a pub or club or party, but the police can still raid these at will. You can’t take a man under 21 to bed, and if you’re under 21, you just can’t, that’s all. You can’t place lonely-heart ads.

BUT… Gay News WILL carry small ads for as long as you wish to use them. It must surely be an individuals human right to choose the way he or she wishes to make contact.

BUT… Gay News feels that far too little is being done to campaign for the age of consent to be lowered to the logical level, 16, giving us parity with everybody else. It should only be a matter of time before the whole question of legally enforceable age of consent for anyone comes under review.

Since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 very little positive action has been taken to remove this obsolete law from the statute books. We hear that S.M.G. is still squabbling about what particular age limit to campaign for; it’s a nice discussion point in C.H.E. and as Warren Haig says in OZ 42, “If Gay Lib had a concern for all homosexuals it would actively campaign for this… but it doesn’t.”

If you are being persecuted in any way for being yourself, we are here to try to do something about it. Tell us and let’s try together.

Gay News WILL campaign for this reduction. But, more important still, we’d like to make our columns available to anyone involved in campaigning against this particular black mark on the statute book.