NEWSETTES

◉ Public School Meets Gays

BRISTOL: Bristol Gay Awareness took its message to Clifton College, Bristol, recently. After a showing of the Gay Liberation Front movie Come Together, everyone divided up into discussion groups.

Members of the Bristol group felt that the evening was very successful in that they were able to put over the problems faced by gays in society to an understanding audience.

Perhaps other public schools and the gay groups near them, should do the same.

◉ Teacher Cleared

PRESTON: At the Crown Court here a former Southport teacher was found not guilty of ‘indecently assaulting’ a 15-year-old boy pupil.

The judge directed the jury to clear Peter, who now lives in York, of the charge. Peter denied the charge.

◉ Reading Students Back Gays

READING: Students at the university here have passed a motion declaring their support for moves to have gays’ rights discussed at the next conference of the National Union of Students.

This makes the third time that students have tried to get the NUS to take a stand on gay rights. The Reading motion was proposed by Goff Sargent, of Reading Gay Alliance, who was interviewed about this by the Reading Evening Post.

Goff said the NUS represented 24,000 gay students who were isolated and met with discrimination.

He told the Evening Post: ‘“Under the 1967 Sexual Offences Act the age of consent is 21. For heterosexuals it’s 16.

“There should be no discrimination between the ages of consent.”’

He said being gay was like being black.

‘“White people never understand what it is like to be black.” ’

The next NUS conference is on February 24 and students want to hear discussed the need for counselling and befriending gays, the provision of social facilities for gays and the creation of sexual equality. “It is no longer a clandestine activity,” Goff said.

RGA, which started as a student gay group, is now a town-and-university group. There are now more town members than university members.

What problems do Reading’s gays face? Goff said: “There is no great problem of harrassment as they have in London, but there is a general air of hostility, which means that many homosexuals are isolated. It’s the usual syndrome where he can’t mention it to his best friends and parents.”

◉ A Wilder Wiltshire

CHIPPENHAM: A group of gay people is forming in this Wiltshire market town. Initial Contact: Bob Illingsworth, Phone Box (Somerset) 2881. – BGAG.

◉ Stage Bans Gay Ads

LONDON: The Stage, the theatrical newspaper, has refused to carry a travel firm’s advertisement on the grounds that the ads refer specifically to gays.

When Gay News asked The Stage for an explanation, a spokesman for the paper said: “I’m not allowed to comment on this. But we’ve had so many veiled references, you know, that we’ve just had to start cracking down.”

We’ll report further when the managing director explains the Stage’s position of sexual discrimination in its advertisements.

◉ Dilly Goes On Record

LONDON: The Save Piccadilly campaign is giving away a 45 rpm record as part of its propaganda blitz to try to get the Greater London Council to shelve plans which will wipe out humans from London’s largest tourist attraction and gay-cruising spot.

Both sides of the record are written by Mike Klein (music) and Alan Wakeman words). The record, performed by Everyone Involved, a community rock group, is being given away.

If anyone wants a copy of The Circus Keeps On Turning/Motor Car Madness, all they have to do is to go along to The Almost Free Theatre, Rupert Street, London W1 and ask.

Nigel Stewart, Gillian Dickinson, James Asher, Mike Klein and Richard Oscar Lanchester, who make up Everyone Involved, made the record for nothing as their contribution to the Save Piccadilly Campaign.

Co-writer Alan Wakeman was partly responsible for the GLF-supporting record ‘Come Together’ which was given away last year.

About 2,500 copies of the Save Piccadilly record have been pressed.

◉ Northern CHE Gays Evade Subs Payment

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool CHE group has found that less than one-fifth of its 170 members have paid the additional local subscription of £1 over their subscriptions they pay to belong to CHE nationally.

The local sub, the latest Liverpool newsletter says, is to entitle members to go to the group’s meetings at the Archway Club.

Membership of the Archway Club does not entitle people to attend the CHE meetings held there. The club is a new meeting place for the group which finds that some members are put off coming to meetings because they are now held in a gay club

But, the newsletter says, ‘trust us; the Archway is a relaxing, pleasant, safe place to be and especially on our own nights, is reserved exclusively for CHE. And being a club means that you can unwind before the meeting with a drink, and stay on afterwards for a chat or a dance – until 2 am if you wish.’

The group has also negotiated with the club’s management to get cut-price membership of the club for its members. Liverpool CHE members who show their cards can now join the Archway club for £1.50, rather than the standard £2.00 club membership fee.

◉ York Honours Sir John
Photograph: R.I.P. Off

YORK: The university here has granted an honorary degree to Sir John Wolfenden, chairman of the committee which produced the then-daring report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution.

Sir John, director of the British Museum, is a former vice-chancellor of Reading University.

His committee’s report did much to lower the temperature of opinion against gays in Britain, and thus made the 1967 Sexual Offences Act possible.

The committee was the first serious attempt to study the problems gays face and, whilst its findings may appear dated now, it was seen in its time as a great step forward.

◉ Thanks … But

LONDON: Gay News’ news section depends, to a large extent, on information sent in by local groups. If there’s a heavy bias towards a few groups, it’s because we get information from them, and therefore know what’s happening around Britain. Meanwhile thanks to Bath Gay Awareness, Leeds Gay Lib, Chilterns CHE, Liverpool CHE and Reading Gay Alliance for their newsletters/bulletins/ arrows etc.

If we don’t mention what you’ve been doing, it’s because you haven’t told us. Just type it – double spaced, please – and mail it to the News Deskette at Gay News, address is still 19 London Street, London W2 for now.

Back To Normal

READING: Reading Gay Alliance’s discos and socials hit by the end of the late drinking-and-music licence at the Railway Tavern are now getting back to normal.

The landlord of the Railway Tavern has got his licence back and the silent-and-dry social evenings have become fun again.

The new licence runs out in April, but before that the brewers Ind Coope, are replacing the present licencee with their own manager. Then anything could happen. Ind Coope has already told RGA not to mention the Railway Tavern by name in any of its advertisements.

The present landlord consistently let the room to RGA, at the expense of other groups already using it.

Meanwhile RGA has held its annual meeting, and, in the light of the recent licencing problems, the members agreed to make the social functions into members-only club functions.

Members of RGA from Reading town have been pressing for a club set-up for some time, but this has been opposed by members from Reading University, who wanted RGA to go on without bothering about membership cards.

Letters Continued

Bristling Inaccuracies

9 Moray Place, Edinburgh 3
Dear Gay News,

I never thought I’d find myself springing to the defence of Sir Michael Swann, but your news item in GN14 bristled with so many inaccuracies that the record must be set straight.

  1. The reference to his brush with Scottish International omitted the essential point, which is that he’d got hold of the wrong end of the stick. He thought that the story about a warden at another Scottish university was a bizarrely distorted version of something that had happened at Edinburgh.
  2. The teach-in on Homosexuality on March 8th is not being organised by the Scottish Minorities Group, but by a specially formed committee of staff and students (more non-gays than gays) from Edinburgh University and Heriot-Watt University — containing, by the way, not one professor, but two.
  3. Sir Michael did not write letters complaining about the abusive letters he’d received, though he did ask the Deputy Secretary to the University to tell me that the Teach-In could not be described without Senatus approval as an official University event, as the Glasgow Herald (for reasons best known to itself) had labelled it.
  4. To say that ‘he has taken steps to make sure that no university funds are spent on the teach-in by telling university committees that they may not regard the teach-in as official’ is almost libellous. Our Committee has no evidence that this has happened.
  5. In short. Sir Michael is not ‘on record’ as being anti-gay. It would be quite untypical of him to take any such positive stand. I have recently heard that in reply to at least one of the ‘abusive letters’ he started off by reassuring the writer that the Teach-In was not an official event and ended by saying that the University believed in encouraging free discussion. This hedging of his bets strikes me as far more characteristic of the political animal that he is.

I am not happy about the attitude of the University committees we have approached for help; their reasons for rejecting our applications strike me as specious and unconvincing. But individual prejudice, conscious or subconscious, could well be a sufficient explanation. Making wild and unprovable accusations of behind-the-scenes rigging is just playing into the enemy’s hands. In the long battle for gay rights we have to learn to be cunning as well as courageous.

Michael Coulson

Back In Business

Gay Arrow,
Reading Gay Alliance,
Room 7, 30 London Road,
Reading.
Dear Gay News,

We would like to clarify a point in your article “Angry Silence Hits RGA” (Gay News 14). It ended with the suggestion that complaints from a member of the public may gave made the landlord “forget” to renew his music and dance licence at the Tavern.

This is not true. The complaint to the brewers regarding the press advertisement came after the lapse of the licence. The landlord has done his best to ensure that our meetings go ahead without problems, and was very apologetic at the loss of the licence. He continued to let RGA use the club-room free of charge for the period without extensions or dancing, when attendances were very low and his revenue negligible.

The help he has given RGA since social functions started last June has been the most that could be expected from any licensee in business for gain, and in no other way associated with the aims of our organisation. This contrasts with the attitude of his monopolist employer.

We are pleased to report that he has now regained his licences, and our socials and discos are back in business.

Dave Thompson, Goff Sargent,
Editors of Gay Arrow

Not So Lucky

Albany Trust,
32 Shaftesbury Avenue,
London W1V 8EP.
Dear GN,

Your editorial spiel on money and the gay movement was dead on — except for your belief that “the Albany Trust is lucky enough to have a charitable trust supporting it just now.” I wish this was true, but it’s not. Last year we did receive just under £3,000 from the Gulbenkian Foundation.

But that was a once-only, emergency grant aimed at helping us keep our heads above water to the end of 1972 so that we could continue with the vital job of co-ordinating counselling and befriending activities for the homophile movement. The money has all been spent now, and the grant was necessitated because our 1972 income had dropped to half of what it used to be.

Now, at the beginning of 1973, the Albany Trust is once again faced with the prospect of being out of business within a few months unless adequate support is forthcoming. Our autumn appeal – designed to put us “in the black” for this year as a first step – was a failure. Yet we are not only “carrying” all NFHO’s administrative expenses but have also been contributing to those of CHE and other homophile groups. This can’t go on unless the gay world shows positive signs of wanting it to.

To expect more work to be done by gay organisations when they haven’t enough cash in hand to keep going at present levels is futile. There’s no question of “chicken or egg?” here. Given the cash, we will do the job. But time is short – for the Albany Trust and for NFHO, as well as for Gay News.

Antony Grey, Managing Trustee

Angry Silence Hits RGA

READING: Reading’s Gay Alliance is facing a two-way threat to its social functions.

First, the licensee of the Railway Tavern, where RGA has always held its social evenings and discotheques, forgot to re-apply for his late drinking-and-music licence. That ensured that RGA socials became both silent and sober after ‘closing time’.

Now the brewery that controls the Railway Tavern has told RGA that it mustn’t mention the pub’s name in any press ads, or the brewery will stop RGA holding any functions there.

That fairly certainly, ensures that no-one knows where the RGA discos and socials are held, even in their curtailed form.

The brewery, in effect, was happy enough to take the gays’ money, but after a member of the public “complained” it didn’t want the public to know it had gays in its pub.

But, unabashed, RGA went ahead with plans for New Year celebrations at the Railway, after a promise from the landlord that he’d get the after-hours licence back, so the events could be held realistically.

A spokesman for the brewery said this ban on ads had been imposed after “complaints from a member of the public”.

It isn’t clear whether “complaints from a member of the public” made the licensee of the Railway forget to go through the routine procedure to renew his late drinking/music licence.