Bath Gays Gagged

BATH: Bath’s Evening Chronicle has run two articles about the Bath Gay Awareness Group, but it will not carry the group’s paid advertisements inviting lonely gays in the Somerset University city to its meetings.

The Bath and Wilts Evening Chronicle – to give it its full name – will not carry the ads because they do not represent what is “truth and right” in the eyes of the paper’s managing director, Mr Edgely.

Mr Edgely, who is only a minor cog in the bigger wheel that owns the Chronicle, the Westminster Press group — the provincial newspaper group owned by Lord Cowdray, whose dilletante son Michael Pearson has as his hobbies owning the Hedonist, the biggest motor-yacht built since the war (complete with circular bed and bath with gold taps etc) and producing movies (such as Vanishing Point).

Lord Cowdray has as his hobby making money and to further this end controls S. Pearson Publishing, which owns Penguins, Longmans, Ladybird Books, the Financial Times and Westminster Press, a string of highly profitable newspapers with large numbers of advertisements kept apart by editorial matter of a high moral tone (for instance the word “rape” could not be used until 1968.)

It is in this high moral tone and the “family newspaper” aims of the Pearson organisation that motivates the smaller men of the hierarchy such as Mr Edgely, to refuse to allow Bath’s gays to run a simple advertisement in the Bath Chronicle’s personal ad columns.

Bob Illingworth, of BGAG met Mr Edgely to try to talk to him. Bob pointed out that BGAG only wanted to have the ad published to contact the many lonely and isolated gays in the city and help them come to terms with their homosexuality. It was not the group’s intention, he said, to “deprave and corrupt” people into becoming homosexual.

Mr Edgely, who’d refused to talk about his decision to bar the BGAG ad, eventually agreed to pronounce upon the subject of gays and gayness. He said that homosexuality was a gross abnormality and homosexuals were sick people in need of medical attention. To him homosexuality was abhorrent and not suitable to appear in the advertsiement section of his paper.

He told Bob the advertisements in the Chronicle represented the newspaper itself and should therefore represent what is truth and right. He failed to explain how the articles on the BGAG were truth and right if the ad wasn’t.

Maybe he was prepared to allow the editorial department to use the gays as a sort of freak-show to fill in between the display ads. Beyond that his Westminster Press-approved liberalism didn’t stretch.