In GN15 we said that there had been a decline in the amount of correspondence we were receiving from you. This is no longer the case, as your letters are once again coming in fast and furious. Keep them rolling in. We consider the Your Letters column to be a particularly important part of the paper, as it gives you a chance to air your opinions and communicate your ideas to the paper’s readership — the largest of any gay paper or magazine currently publishing in this country.
Safety In Anonymity
Whilst on the subject of letters, we cannot help but notice how only a minority of you are willing to have your names published with your correspondence. It is of course up to you whether or not your name appears in print, but we see the reason why a large majority of you prefer to remain anonymous, apart from just Christian names, or to use a pseudonym as a good example of the pressures homosexuals are still subjected to or subject themselves to. And remember, the 1967 Sexual Offences Act supposedly removed the threat of blackmail and the unjustifiable harrassment of homosexuals.
Many gays claim that there is no discrimination or prejudice against them, but if that is true, why are so many people reluctant to have their names appear at the bottom of their letters. It is not up to us to preach or moralise about whether you should or not, but we do have opinions like anyone else, and the impression we get is that people are still generally wary of the society they are part of, and as a result choose to hide behind a safe but passive cloak of anonymity.
Isn’t one answer to this problem to work hard for a Sexual Discrimination Bill to be introduced into Parliament, similar to the Race Relations Act. We would very much like to hear from you on these last two points, as the former affects you far more than us.
A Voice From The Right
In our last issue a reader suggested in the letters column that we should give Martin Stafford (the notorious reactionary executive committee member of CHE) a chance to express his right wing views.
We welcome this suggestion, as the pages of GN will always be open to all forms of opinion, whether they be right, left, liberal or otherwise. We believe it is the only fair way of allowing everyone to have their say, without one particular viewpoint dominating our pages. It is likely we will often disagree with what contributors are saying, but it is not up to us to suppress ideas and convictions, even unpopular ones. The readers of GN will make up their own minds, from the arguments presented to them.
As Mr Stafford’s action concerning Gay News has been of a rather negative nature in the past, we hope that this may stir him to put pen to paper and communicate on a more positive level, which, incidentally, we feel he is capable of if given the chance. The ball is in your court, Mr Stafford.
Trouble In The South
We apologise to readers in the Portsmouth/ Southampton area who may be experiencing some difficulty in obtaining our recent issues. A number of outlets are no longer willing to handle the paper, and are not prepared to say why, despite the fact that most of them sold all the copies of GN delivered to them.
On information received from usually reliable sources, we have learnt that pressure has been put on these retail outlets by a person well known in that area, who has considerable interests in a gay advertising pamphlet that is circulated around the country. It is depressing to find out that someone whose only concern is the exploitation of the ‘gay market’ feels it necessary to interfere with the distribution of a newspaper whose primary interest is not a commercial one and whose aim is to try and be a valuable contribution to society.
For legal reasons we cannot at this stage name the party involved, but we warn them that GN will not tolerate their recent actions, nor, we believe, will our readership, especially as the only thought of that party is to fatten their bank balance at the expense of the gay community. Wilful exploitation of gays by the worst forms of commercialism, must become a thing of the past, and if it will help to expose shoddy enterprises for what they are, we will do so.
If you are one of the people who now find it a problem to buy gay News, please support us by taking out a subscription or else insisting to the managers/owners of places that used to handle GN that they recommence stocking it.
Exploitation of gays has been with us for some time, and the situation we have just mentioned is one example. Another form this takes, which we are personally experiencing, is the way in which certain people are willing to sell Gay News, but are reluctant to pay us for copies they have sold. A one-time prominent London member of the largest gay organisation in Britain, is at this time witholding payment. And he is not alone. If those people cannot meet their responsibilities very soon we shall have no alternative but to publish a list of bad debtors. As many of you know the future of the paper has been on shaky ground during the past few weeks, when the gathering of funds has been of prime importance. Is it right then that a few individuals should make a personal profit by abusing the trust placed in them. A difficult problem but one which must be solved for the good of all of us.
A New Location
If all goes well in the next month, we should be moving to new premises, which are considerably larger than our present ‘home’. It will be sad to leave Paddington, but, as we have said many times before, we have more than outgrown our present location to the extent that it is badly interfering with our efficiency and expansion. At the time of writing we are still unsure of exactly what our new address will be, although it almost certainly will be in West London. So please carry on phoning and mailing to London Street until we inform you otherwise.
When we do finally move, we will be much in need of office equipment such as desks, chairs, shelving, filing cabinets, etc. If any of you have anything you think may be of use, please get in touch immediately, so we can effectively plan ahead.
A New Voice On The Phone
Our advertisement in GN15, and an ad in Time Out, effectively provided us with a much needed Office Manager. The new voice on the phone is Mike Mason, who is already proving to be an indispensible member of the team that brings you Gay News every fortnight.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the other applicants, and hope that there is no ill feeling. You were all very fine people but as it turned out Mike’s qualifications and organisational ability brought him out on top.
As a response to the many requests from you, we have decided that within the next few editions we will be offering you the chance to take advantage of our Mail Order service. We intend to provide a prompt, efficient and inexpensive way of purchasing gay literature, etc, that you may have difficulty in obtaining elsewhere. The leading publishers in Great Britain, and eventually those in other countries, will be helping us to make this the most comprehensive and reliable way of getting important and much sought after books and magazines quickly to you, without charging the earth for the service. Further announcements about this new venture will appear in the paper soon.
Hope you are finding our ‘egg-less’ front covers acceptable. It gives our designer far more scope to work in, and it also means our covers will become progressively more eye-catching and exciting. Further design changes will be taking place soon, all of which should contribute to a greatly improved and far more readable GN.
Thanks to you we seem to be selling more copies of the paper with each new edition that comes out. We still have not reached the circulation figures which will keep our heads well above water, but if our rate of growth continues it won’t be too long. We just need your continued support.
Hope you are getting along alright with this copy of Gay News. The next edition, No 18, will be published on and available from 7th March. Deadlines for that issue are Friday 23rd February for copy, letters etc, and the morning of Tuesday 27th February for advertisements.