The Gay Vote

19721001-04‘The Gay vote’ is not a factor which politicians include in their calculations in this country. But, nonetheless, if gays constitute (at a conservative estimate) one in twenty of the population, then we could wield considerable influence to better our position, especially in local elections.

This lesson does not seem to have got across to gay politicos in this country – they seem to prefer negative actions to combat prejudice rather than positive ones such as this.

In Canada, the Gay Alliance Towards Equality (GATE) has been active at all the meetings, rallies and so on in the provincial elections in Vancouver, British Columbia, with a considerable degree of success.

On the 9th August, seven candidates appeared to answer questions in front of an audience of 100 people, including members of GATE. Maurice Flood, GATE’s chairman, asked them: “In view of the fact that leaflets listing gay demands have been given to all the candidates, where do the candidates stand on granting full civil liberties to homosexuals?” The Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic Party candidates all said that they supported equality, whilst the Social credit candidates said: “I support the family; whether you fit into that picture or not is up to you.”

Roedy Green, of GATE, challenged the Social Credit candidate’s claim that his party stood for the protection of minority rights by pointing out that they had not extended the Human Rights legislation to apply to gays.

However the Socred candidate was much more outspoken a fortnight later when faced with further questioning on the subject of gay rights. He said that people who belong to such movements are in a dangerous situation because “one day society will want to castrate the lot of you to stop you reproducing your kind.” He was greeted by prolonged jeering and booing from the audience.

He had been asked if he would end “the involuntary hospitalisation of gays (supposedly) for their own good.” The other candidates had said that they would.

All this has made candidates of all parties aware of the injustices in society towards homosexuals, and has had the whole issue extensively reported in the Vancouver papers. There’s a lesson in that somewhere.

Editorial

05-197208XX 1We said it once. We are saying it again. We are short of money, and we need more. Not to expand the paper. Not to improve it. Just to keep it in existence. And we wouldn’t need to say that if our shops paid us promptly.

Most news is pessimistic — which is pretty well inevitable in the present situation of gay people. We are, after all, a frightened, fighting, persecuted minority, especially at the moment.

But …. where is the optimism, the creative side of gay life? What are we doing that is positive and fun? Not much.

The collective has heard a lot in these past few weeks about why we ought not to have started a gay newspaper, about how we are singling out gay people and setting them apart from everyone else, about how we are publicising the elements of gay life that many of us would like to forget or pretend didn’t exist. We’ve also had favourable comment to far outweigh this. But we feel we ought to make it clear why we disagree with our detractors on this point.

Firstly, The business of creating gay groups, papers, and so forth, serves a very great need. If someone thinks they are the only homosexual in the world, publicly gay things show them that they are not, show them things they can be part of. If someone is in any kind of trouble because they are gay, then that affects all of us, because we are gay too, and “there but for the grace of god go I”. We must be in a position to help one another.

Secondly. The gay scene that does exist is largely created for gay people by non-gay people, who do not understand us and our way of life as well as we do. They are in it because they know that if a place is passable but also gay, it will make them money. Mind you, we are getting more discerning. The Hummabum Club only stayed open a short while – people realised that it was a rip-off operation and weren’t going to fall for it.

But because the places for us to meet are few, and so many of us are isolated from one another because we do not feel able to be what we are openly at all times, we tend to be aggressively single-minded about getting someone home to bed when we do meet en masse. And this leads to the unthinking and inhuman treatment of other people as bed-fodder, judging them solely on the basis of their look and style, not as people.

We don’t like that attitude very much. It’s so much nicer going to bed with people you like, people you know, people you care about – in other words, to have friends you get to bed with now and again.

Thirdly. We believe in honesty. At all times, in all places. It’s incredibly hard. It hurts, especially if you’re not used to it. But it is really worth it. It really is worth the effort. So playing straight is not our game – indeed, we try not to play any games, or if we do, at least be aware of them.

So, at the moment, there is very little of value …. for the simple reason that anything gay people have has been granted or provided after much pressure by the very begrudging majority. A majority that is ignorant of us, doesn’t like us, and doesn’t want us. So we end up with what they think we deserve — and most of it is very dingy and expensive tat. If we really want anything of lasting value, we must create it ourselves; get together and do it. If that means staying an isolated minority for a while, that’s exactly what they want us to be. But it also means that we can show them, prove to them that we can do very well without them thank you, that we don’t need them. That we have every bit as much to offer to the human race as they have, and if they want it, they must come and get it. We here at Gay News don’t want two worlds, gay and non-gay. We want one world for everybody. For all that to happen, they must see us, know us, respect us, and actively want to be part of what we are doing as much as some of us want to be part of what they are doing (and that involves conventional society changing too – we don’t want to be part of it as it stands).

We made our beginning with a newspaper. Others do it in the various movements (though it would help if the movements stopped bitching one another and actually got together to do something). We would hope that the paper will stay out of those inter-movements politics, bridge some of the gaps, and perhaps become a nucleus for the more positive side of gay culture. At the moment we are preoccupied with trying to survive. But what we want to do …… to be really national, with regional offices, to have really much less cramped premises here, to start a counselling service for people in trouble, to run a club. We get letters, lots of them, that show how cut off, how lonely, how tired-of-things-as-they-are people are. We want to do something about it. All of us, all of you.

If we could all get together and do something like that, we could spawn a whole new beginning for straight society as well as for ourselves. It’s a dream. It’s a long way into the future. It could start now. But does anybody care?