Your Letters Continued

Bigoted Letters

London EC2

Dear Gay News,

May I be permitted space in reply to the bigoted letters of Michael Harth and J B Marr in GN10.

Both are concerned with what Michael refers to as ‘screaming queens’ and Mr Marr as ‘gyrating freaks’.

It is always my expectation that the victims of prejudice and irrationality will be capable of recognising such attitudes within themselves when they are confronted by ‘deviations’ that they find disturbing in other people. This expectation is frequently disappointed. As the film It Is Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse etc. puts it, gays who are, in general, put down by the society in which they live are often anxious to find others at whom they themselves can point the finger of scorn.

Of course, this is a phenomenon that applies not merely to gays, but is worldwide. The lighter-skinned black likes to feel superior to the darker-skinned; the Western Jew likes to feel superior to the Eastern Jew; the white-collar worker likes to feel superior to the tradesman or labourer, the pink-skinned ‘white’ likes to feel superior to those who have black, yellow or red skins; and so on … Oppressed and exploited himself, and very often not conscious of his own oppression, the superior person needs to compensate for his feelings of inferiority. The most obvious expression of this phenomenon is the dominant male/dependant female relationship.

Messrs Marr and Harth, to judge by their language, apparently believe that they themselves are acceptable to the society in which they live, and are afraid that they may lose their ‘respectability’ by being linked with their more obvious brothers. Both rationalise their fear and anger, Mr Marr by using emotive terms like ‘mincing’, ‘unwashed’ and ‘perverts’ to describe the objects of his abhorrance and suggesting that they are obsessed with sex, conveniently forgetting or not realising that the heterosexual world’s preoccupation with sex is so overwhelming that we hardly even notice it any longer – the mere fact that men wear trousers and women wear dresses is a display of sexual preoccupation (and differentiation) so enormous that we have come to take it for granted!

Michael Harth is able to rationalise his detestation by defining ‘us’ (that is, himself) as ‘true’ homosexuals and ‘them’ as pseudo-heterosexuals. How clever of Michael to be able to reach such a satisfactory conclusion when most of the people doing research in the field of homosexuality find the subject so complex that they feel unable to draw any conclusions, or, if they do, their conclusions are frequently at variance, one with the other!

What Michael and Mr Marr fail to understand is that the problem (if that is what it should be called) has nothing to do with the screaming queens but is entirely in their own heads. If some males of the human species prefer to dress and act differently from the manner in which your two correspondents think they ought to dress and act, that is not Michael’s or Mr Marr’s concern. Every human being has the right to choose his or her own way of life as long as it does no physical or mental harm to others. If other people choose to be offended, that is their option, but being offended is not the same as being hurt or victimised or brainwashed.

One small amendment to my remark about the ‘queen’s’ life-style not being Michael’s concern. Michael appears to be proud of belonging to CHE. But CHE is an organisation for all gays, and its specific aim is equality in society for all gays. If he wishes to exclude from CHE those gays whose way of life is not to his taste, then he has either to do some hard re-thinking or to resign from CHE. To that extent, the ‘screaming queens’ are his concern. I hope Michael will recollect the words of one of his favourite philosophers, Schopenhauer … “The truth was not found because … the intention was to find preconceived opinion …”

Love and peace,

L Collinson

Biased or Objective?

London

Dear Gay News,

I was sorry to see that your reporting of the Champion trial was so biased. As a defence witness I saw a number of things which your reporter failed to notice, for reasons best known to himself. For instance, the fuzz not merely grabbed someone’s camera but kicked members of the public downstairs, simply because some of them were objecting to the way the MacKenzie lawyer was being treated.

I also think that at a time when we should be fighting together, your reporter’s bitchy remarks about Peter Reed are unnecessary and useless. Whatever Peter did or did not do, I’m sure the reporter might have managed to remember to get hold of the testimony of the defence witnesses. I find it a rather poor excuse for his lack of reporting.

Incidents such as these embitter relations between GLF and Gay News; and it would be sad if what is otherwise a very good paper continued to print deliberately unfavourable reports about Gay Lib.

Yours,

Frank Honore

Vassall Supervision?

Bromley

Dear Gay News,

I read your item about William Vassall (GN10) with interest, but remain curious about one aspect that is not mentioned by you.

Since he had been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, in normal circumstances after allowing for good conduct remission of one third, he would have been discharged after twelve years. In view of every reports’ reference to his exemplary behaviour in prison, one can quite safely assume that this would have been the case. As he is released on parole I believe that he is subject to some form of supervision for the remainder of his original sentence — another eight years from now.

The authorities by releasing him two years earlier (ten years instead of twelve) have managed therefore to retain control of William Vassal for a further eight years from the date of his sentence. He would have been released in two years time, with no supervision for the following six years.

Can any of your readers let me know whether I have got my facts right?

All best wishes,

Michael

Champion Case Erupts In Court

LONDON: Two gays were each fined £5 for “using threatening behaviour” at Marylebone Magistrates’ Court on October 24 after an incident when the manager of Notting Hill’s Champion pub refused to serve a number of gays in drag. Andrew Lumsden and Peter Reed were both charged with using threatening words likely to cause a breach of the peace, and of using threatening behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace.

Magistrate K. Harrington was surprised when Lumsden asked for the court to admit their “MacKenzie adviser”. Mr Harrington had the law of MacKenzie v. MacKenzie (1967) briefly outlined to him by his clerk and then agreed.

Lumsden and Reed’s MacKenzie adviser came in wearing a white robe and sat with the accused in the dock to give them advice on points of law.

Magistrate Harrington listened closely to the evidence of PC Andrew McGregor of Notting Hill police who said that after some effort in capturing Reed and arresting him. he and another policeman had set off in pursuit of Lumsden.

Reed had shouted things like “You fucking great brutes, let me in, you can’t stop me” and “Fascists, bastards, pigs, you can’t stop me. Gay Lib will support me.” when the police ejected him from the pub and had fought to get back in, PC McGregor said.

When it came to arresting Lumsden PC McGregor had been unable to do it on his own. PC B 405 North had come to his assistance, they held Lumsden by the arms, the policeman alleged, while Lumsden had lashed out with his legs as they were trying to throw him out of the pub.

When North and McGregor had got Lumsden to the police-van he had shouted: “You bloody fascist bastards.”

Questioned by Lumsden, PC McGregor admitted he’d never made a verbal arrest until Lumsden was being held down on the police van’s floor. He denied that either he or PC North had punched Lumsden in the face during the struggle inside the pub, during which Lumsden was pinioned to the floor and which had smashed several glasses, as the policemen fighting with Lumsden had hit the pub’s tables.

Once they arrived at Notting Hill police station the policeman involved in making the arrests had gone off into another room for a private conversation, Lumsden said.

Later Lumsden was seen by a police doctor who found a “surface abrasion” on Lumsden’s cheek and that Lumsden was “under the influence of alcohol”. He was challenged on this by Lumsden who produced a letter from his own doctor which said that one of his nostrils was blocked and there was a haemmorhage in his left eye. The police doctor admitted he had not carried out any tests that showed that Lumsden was under the influence of alcohol. He merely said “Your pupils were dilated.’

This evidence came after a lunch recess and a lengthy adjournment immediately following lunch. Magistrate Harrington had obviously had enough of the 20 to 30 gays in the public gallery and their bubble blowing, laughter and existence.

Throughout the morning he had shouted that he would have the gallery cleared if anyone else laughed. But the noise after lunch proved too much and he ordered the police to clear the public gallery. The gays left peacefully. It was then that Lumsden and Reed’s MacKenzie adviser shouted that there were a number of queens in court, that the magistrate was a queen and was in no position to sit in judgement on Lumsden and Reed.

He was then dragged out of the dock by PC D9, sustaining light injuries to his arm. PC D9 did not stop there. He grabbed a boy with a camera round his neck, opened the camera and exposed the film.

It is the magistrate’s choice whether he allows a MacKenzie adviser at all, but Mr Harrington finally relented and allowed the adviser back into the dock and the court started again. But this time the public gallery was largely empty.

The gays who had been sitting there stood outside the court shouting and jostling with police for some time before being allowed back into the court, two at a time.

Lumsden and Reed defended themselves by saying that there was no violence on their side, but only on the side of the landlord and police.

It was noticeable that magistrate Harrington took little interest in the defence case, becoming more nervous with each witness who appeared in drag, and consoling himself by reading Stone’s Justices Manual.

He finally decided that the language Lumsden and Reed had used was not threatening but “abusive” but he decided they did use threatening behaviour, fining each £5 and binding them over to keep the peace for a year in the sum of £20.

During the case Reed and Lumsden called several witnesses, all of whom corroborated their testimonies. But because the defendant Reed took it into his head to snatch the GN reporter’s notebook, steal the relevant pages and destroy them within the precincts of the court making him liable to three fresh criminal charges – we cannot give details of defence case and this report must remain unfortunately one-sided.

Shortly after this one of Reed’s friends told the reporter to “piss off, or I’ll thump you” – laying himself open to two criminal charges.

The other three gays arrested at the Champion on the same night, Douglas McDougal, Richard Chappie and Peter Bourne, did not appear in court for long.

The cases against them were adjourned until December, because the prosecution said, the policeman who arrested them was in hospital “although it’s nothing to do with this case.”

Note: No proceedings have been started against Reed el al for assault against the person, or property, for theft, contempt of court, using threatening words, or using threatening behaviour.

Customers Wore Drag

19721001-03LONDON: Drag gays arrested at Notting Hill Gate’s Champion pub are wrong to accuse the manager of bullying his customers, he told Gay News.

Terry Mahon, who’s managed the pub for a year said. “One reason why I don’t like the drag lads drinking in the pub is because it upsets the rest of my customers. My regular customers just don’t want the drag people in the pub.

“And it’s my job to give the customer what he wants.” The licensee of any pub has the right to refuse permission to serve anyone who he doesn’t want to serve. So Mr Mahon’s alright there.

Before taking over the Champion, Mr Mahon did a three-month relief managership at the Boltons in Earls Court. Now he has asked Bass Charrington, the brewery that owns both pubs, to let him stay at the Champion for another two years after his two-year managership runs out.

He told Gay News: “I’ve got nothing against gay people. In fact I’ve made some good friends among them. That’s why I want to stay on longer than the brewery normally lets its managers stay at a pub.

“This pub just isn’t the sort of place where drag is welcomed by the customers. When I first moved in I suggested we should have one drag night a week – a night when all the customers wore drag. And the customers were so indignant I dropped the idea right away.”

Mr Mahon’s answer came after accusations that he bullied his customers from some of 20 drag gays who were refused service in the pub – as reported in GN7.

In a scuffle at the pub following this incident five of the gays were arrested and charged with a number of charges including obstructing the footpath, using threatening words and using threatening behaviour.

They appeared the next day – a Saturday – at Marylebone magistrates court and were remanded on bail until October 24.

Richard Chappel, Douglas McDougal, Peter Bourne, Peter Reed and Andrew Lumsden were the five gays arrested. They were held by the police from 10.30pm until about 2 am, when after being stripped, searched and questioned they were released.

They charge the police with insulting them, pulling their hair and refusing to allow them to use the telephone.

Mr Mahon told his side of the story to Gay News: “I told them I wasn’t going to serve them, then they sat down and I asked them to move out. So I called the police.

“I don’t think these GLF lads who come in realise my customers don’t want them around If I served them regularly I’d lose half my customers.

“The other night, after they had been thrown out by the police, when I came back I had about a dozen drinks bought for me and people walked up and shook me by the hand.

“They say I bully my customers, but how can one man bully 300 people at the same time? It’s ridiculous.”

CORRECTION

In GN7 it was said that the five gays arrested at the Champion, Notting Hill Gate, would appear at Marlborough Street magistrates court, whereas, in fact, they were remanded to appear at Marylebone magistrates.

We regret this error, which was caused by incorrect information being given to the newspaper by Scotland Yard early on the morning following the arrests.

STOP PRESS

19720914-10Fracas At Gay Pub

On Friday 16th September, at approximately 10.30pm, five members of the Gay Liberation Front were arrested by Notting Hill police after 20 gays in drag tried to buy drinks in the Champion pub on Bayswater Road.

Richard Chappel, Douglas McDougal, Peter Bourn, Peter Reed and Andrew Lumsden were bailed by the police after being held in the cells for at least three hours. They claim they were not allowed to make any telephone calls while they were being held.

And they charge the police with using unnecessary violence and using insulting behaviour against them.

Gay News got the tip-off from Peter from Barnes, who was outside the pub with his boyfriend. Scotland Yard checked out the information he gave them and told him:

“Don’t quote me on this, but we hate these sort of problems.

“It’s up to the landlord of the pub to refuse to sell drinks to anyone, and to ask them to leave. If they won’t leave he can call the police. If they still won’t leave they can be charged with obstructing the police in the course of their duty.”

The drag gays are charged with a number of offences including one of obstructing the footpath, two of obstructing the police and two of threatening behaviour.

But they say the threatening behaviour was not just one-sided. Gay News was told:

“What was really terrifying was not just the fact that the police pulled our hair, which you can expect, But also, as well as getting all the ‘Yes, ducky’, ‘No, ducky’ remarks the arresting officer pulled Doug’s hair in the police van and said: ‘We’ll get you later’.”

Trouble broke out when the landlord decided not to serve the drag gays, who had had a social. Then, they sat down. The landlord called the police and three policemen entered the pub to clear the sit-down protesters. Outside there were two police vans, two panda cars and two squad cars.

The gays were released, after being stripped and questioned, at about 2am. They were bailed to appear at Great Marlborough Street Magistrates Court the next day.

The full story will appear in Gay News No. 8.