Che Shows The Way

LONDON: Any vicar’s wife who wandered into London’s Conway Hall the other Saturday wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at what she saw as hundreds of homosexuals did their thing — and in public. It was CHE’s autumn fair, and to all intents and purposes it looked like a village fete that had been rained off the cricket square and into the WI Hall.

CHE held the fair to raise money for its London social club — just as any village has a fete to pay for the work on the dry rot in the choirstalls. This autumn fair was a community event, like a village fete. Except for the fact that this was specifically for London’s gay community.

It would have warmed any vicar’s wife to see preserves and cakes on sale, lucky dips, seemly games of chance, though the rummage stall labelled “Drag” might have raised an eyebrow or both.

There may have been a vicar’s wife there, but mainly the people were those one usually gets to see in the gay ghetto. But for the fair they’d all come out, and as a social event it had that to commend it.

But all that, and speculation about vicar’s wives is irrelevant to the fact that CHE’s Autumn Fair raised £1,000 towards the Campaign’s projected gay social centre.

It’s also important to mention that the campaign, often regarded as the most staid and least go-ahead of the gay groups, actually put on the event, raised the money and gave a lot of people a good time, which didn’t just end with the fair but went on into the evening with such treats as No-No-Nanette in one act, conceived by Roger Baker and performed by Roger and the CHE Players, an amorphous bunch, who gave a lot of people an evening of entertainment, which this reporter had to miss so he could retire home with his cold. Pity.

In All Probability It’s The Movie Maker Who Is Perverse

If anyone wanted to know why West Germans have been denied the sight of It Is Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse But The Situation In Which He Lives, a couple of showings the movie got at the London’s National Film showed that it’s probably for the good of gays in Germany and also for the majority of the TV audience, which is, presumably, heterosexual.

There are quite a few Germans and if they believed that gays lived a form of Rake’s Progress (or should it be The Three-penny Opera?) as it was portrayed in this movie they might do everything they could to make sure that Amendment 175 of the constitution of West Germany, which makes homosexual acts legal among legal consenting adult males, and all that stuff.

The NFT showed the movie on two successive nights, and on both nights they got a full house (it’s probably the first time the NFT’s commissionaire has ever seen a queue) and although Volker Eschge, the assistant director wasn’t allowed to finish his piece which tended to go on and on, by shouts of boredom from the audience, no-one who missed Herr Eschge’s summation of the director Rosa von Praunheim – who’s male, by the way – missed much.

On the second night, either the audience was more tolerant or Herr Eschge had severely curtailed his speech on the relevance of Marxism to a sexual revolution.

The important bit he said was that the movie was shot as a simulated documentary about 1967 and planned as far back as the first stirrings of the USA Gay Liberation Movement – the riots in the Greenwich Village Stonewall. Which put the movie into perspective. Even if no-one was admitting it, it was made as a piece of pro-gay propaganda made to show how society forced the homosexual into a degrading life-style.

As Derek Malcolm said in the post-movie discussion after its second showing: “It shows that Rosa von Praunheim knows nothing about the gay scene.”

Whether Mr Malcolm, who writes about movies for The Guardian, knows all that much about the gay scene is immaterial, largely because he found the movie’s fundamental flaw. Every scene looked like a cheap back-of-the-lot Hollywood Western set. Cheap fittings with any little bits of effort put into it so hard they stuck out a mile.

It’s true that this sort of garish gay scene did exist before Amendment 175 was passed. At a time when German gays were totally disorganised. So the movie preaches that they should join their local groups and become militant gays, equating sexual and social revolution with a political revolution.

It’s true that you can’t have the former without the latter, but the unprocessed propaganda that the movie came out with was more likely to get the millions of German gays retreating into their closets with their Bullworkers, iron crosses and elevator shoes, as well as turning the majority of society against gays.

It Is Not The Homosexual… followed one Daniel on the broad path through the bar scene, the rent scene, and, after freaking out of leather, and into drag to being talked at by six well-meaning nude gentlemen who were doing all they could to cover their naughty parts.

The plan of the movie is probably – it’s not so obvious as to be able to say that this is what it’s about definitely – the degradation of Daniel through his contact with the Berlin gay world. Unfortunately the only English language print was made for showing in the USA, so we had a lot of references to ‘faggots’, ‘leather-freaks’ etc. And that sort of categorising doesn’t do anyone any good.

During this scene there was a mysterious large bottle of Coca-Cola being passed from one end of the group to another.

So, basically, It Is Not The Homosexual… is about another time, another place and none of it is helped by the fact that it’s made with all the expertise of a ten-year-old psychopath turned loose with a Super-8 camera and a roll of Kodachrome II.

Herr von Praunheim won’t let the movie be shown unless there’s a discussion after it. So George Melly tried to get people discussing the movie one at a time on the first night the movie was shown.

Come the second night and Mr Melly (of The Observer) had been replaced – according to plan – by Mr Malcolm, Roger Baker of CHE by Bernard Greaves of CHE and Denis Lemon of Gay News by your faithful reporter.

Regrettably the movie is to be shown at last on German TV in January. Pity really, as the direction and the acting are both so wooden as to make Crossroads look like a masterpiece of movie-making.

A Thoroughly Responsible Paper

05-197208xx-4The freedom of the British press is something we have all learned to value. Usually this is understood to mean that our newspapers are not controlled or censored by the government, the state, the police or the army. Publish and be damned is still a good slogan.

However, this freedom is also assumed to mean that individuals and groups of individuals have the right to reply to attacks made upon them by individual newspapers. Quite often this right is freely given. You will find in general that all contentious topics are given a pretty free airing from both sides, whether it is scientology in dispute or Sir Basil Spence’s erection.

A significant exception was made recently though by The Sunday Telegraph. On Sunday, June 2Sth the following item appeared in that paper’s column of pungent tit-bits called To the Point; —

Gent’s Directory

LEAVING aside any dispute about the power of judges to make what is in effect new law, there will be general satisfaction that they have declared to be illegal any advertisement designed to put homosexuals in contact with one another.

It has now become clear that the concept of privacy enshrined in the Wolfenden Act should have applied, not only to homosexual practices as such, but to anything likely to encourage them. The Act was intended to protect an unfortunate minority from persecution, but not to empower them to spread their deviant ideas in society at large.

Presumably no one would dispute the S. Telegraph’s right to express such an opinion. Some people might question the use of emotive language – eg. ‘unfortunate’, ‘empower’ and ‘deviant ideas’, not to mention the use of ‘their’ with its establishment of a ‘them’ and ‘us’ division.

Quite naturally though the paragraphs upset a great many homosexual men and women. And several immediately wrote to the newspaper.

Dear Sir,

I would like to take issue with you, as no doubt others of your readers have done, over last week’s article entitled ‘Gents’ Directory’.

You leave aside the question of whether it is right that the judiciary should usurp the legislature’s function by effectively making laws to cover what a few unelected judges consider to be Parliament’s omission. I have not seen in your columns an equal lack of concern at, for example, left wing youth groups which similarly by-pass the established democratic channels from time to time.

You assert that the denial of advertising rights to homosexuals will meet with general satisfaction. Among the one in twenty homosexuals who read and write for the Sunday Telegraph? Among those who believe in one law for all citizens and abhor discrimination against minorities? Among those concerned at the isolation and despair often faced by homosexuals denied the opportunity for social contact and fulfilling relationships because you do not like them?

You claim that the Sexual Offences Act intended to protect homosexuals from persecution. The Act indeed allowed consenting adult male homosexuals a limited freedom at law. But society persistently denies homosexuals the opportunity to exercise that limited freedom. You justify this with the emotive concept of homosexuals ‘spreading their deviant ideas in society at large!’ We do this, apparently, by seeking to contact other homosexuals via advertisements, just as heterosexuals freely do, on a much larger scale. And if they feel the need, in an entirely heterosexually orientated society, how much more so must we!

The outcry against this social persecution has only just begun. We are comforted by the knowledge that, although this is and must be our battle, we are not alone.

Tony Ryde, (Vice Chairman Campaign for Homosexual Equality) 28 Kennedy St., Manchester.

Dear Sir,

Your editorial comment on homosexuals (Gent’s Directory, last Sunday) has brought considerable and unnecessary distress to a great many people. The note is based on the misconception (which a little unbiased research would have swiftly corrected) that homosexuality is infectious. When a homosexual advertises for companionship then only another homosexual is interested. Society at large remains unaffected.

Surely you would agree that one’s sexuality can hardly be dismissed as a mere idea, but is an inescapable fact of one’s personality.

What you refer to as the “spread (of) deviant ideas” is the simple assertion that the homosexual man and woman have a human right to exist in equality with our heterosexual brothers and sisters. A society which happily accepts our contribution to its economy (mostly greater than that of married people) yet continues to condemn us to a crippling emotional isolation might itself be judged deviant.

Roger Baker
Press Officer: CHE 28 Kennedy St.
Manchester.

Dear Sir,

I was dismayed to read your editorial “Gents Directory”.

To many heterosexual adults, the subject of homosexuality appears to be aligned with pornography, bestiality and intentions to deprave. Anyone admitting to being a homosexual is branded as unclean and considered fair sport for either mental or physical punishment.

This is manifestly unjust. It is surely the case that homosexuals are by accident of birth made what they are. How many of your readers would endorse your condemnation if it were directed at another branch of society different from the norm of which there are so many tragic examples.

I do not agree with the aims of the Gay Liberation Front and others which appear to show the homosexual as superior to his brethren but I am sure that the majority of this section of the population merely want to be accepted for what they are and have the equal rights to which we subscribe in every other walk of life.

In the present isolated environment that has been forced on them, why should we even now deny them the right to try and establish contact with each other? Your own endorsement sir, of the recent Court ruling aggravates the present bigotry and further delays the coming of a free and well adjusted society.

Anonymous

Dear Sir,

I read with astonishment your editorial ‘Gents’ Directory’. I can only hope that your extremely distasteful and hostile remarks stem from a complete ignorance of the nature and effect of homosexuality, rather than a wilful desire to inflict suffering by perpetuating wicked myths.

I and my colleagues, who include doctors, surgeons and priests, have daily brought home to us the misery and unhappiness of that minority whom you gratuitously describe as ‘unfortunate’. Our clients problems are not caused by their homosexuality but by the very attitudes within society towards homosexuals as examplified by your editorial.

If, as a responsible, opinion forming member of that society, you should wish to discover the truth, I and my colleagues would welcome the opportunity to inform you of our work. If, however, your prejudice will not permit you to take up our offer, then I hope your conscience will restrain you from publishing such ill-informed editorials in the future.

Michael Launder
(National Organiser)
Friend,
Broadley Terrace,
London.N.W.1.

These are clearly sensible, reasoned letters, hardly the work of maniacs or cranks. But of course, none were published. Instead, Brian Roberts the 68-year-old editor of the Sunday Telegraph took what seems to be the unusual step of replying personally to his correspondents.

Sunday Telegraph
Fleet Street,
London.E.C.4.
Tel: 01-353 4242

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your letter of June 28.

There is nothing in our editorial which I wish to withdraw. It did not attack the protection afforded to homosexuals by the Act. In rightly supporting the recent Court ruling against advertising, it took into account that there must be many what I might call “borderline ” homosexuals whose often courageous resistance to homosexual practices should not be undermined by such proselytising. Tolerance is one thing, encouragement another.

B.R. Roberts
Editor

One could, of course, go on for several paragraphs about the implications and — perhaps more important – assumptions of Mr. Roberts’ letter. Tony Ryde, in fact, did reply, as follows: —

Dear Mr. Roberts,

Thank you for acknowledging my letter. I did not ask you to withdraw any part of your editorial but rather to recognise that there are other views, equally strongly felt and perhaps as widely supported. Perhaps you intend to publish such an alternative view this Sunday since presumably the Letters Column in the Sunday Telegraph, as is generally the case, doesn’t have to reflect the Editor’s personal opinion.

I recognise that your editorial did not attack the protection which the 1967 act affords to homosexuals (so long as they are over 21 and live in England); I do not think I suggested it did. Rather I pointed to the social persecution which continues unabated and is reflected by your own views, albeit in the guise of protecting borderline cases from temptation.

Of course there are borderline cases on both sides. If I, being predominantly homosexual am tempted to heterosexual practices neither I, not I think you, will applaud as courageous any resistance I might offer. The morality or immorality, surely, depends not on the act but on the spirit. For you, as for the proponents of the 1967 Act, homosexuality is to be considered as intrinsically evil or sick. Whereas CHE, together with all homosexuals campaigning for full civil rights argues that truly fulfilling, responsible relationships have nothing to do with hetero- or homosexuality per se, but with people and personal values. The borderline homosexual therefore has an equal chance of, and right to, meaningful homosexual relationship as to a meaningful heterosexual one.

In any case you cannot contend that homosexual advertisements appeal primarily to ‘borderline cases’ and you will admit I think I that trying, I believe misguidedly, to protect them you are denying a far greater number of confirmed homosexuals the opportunity to I make contact with other confirmed homosexuals in the hope of relieving their loneliness and establishing mutually rewarding relationships.

If CHE proselytises it is for this freedom which should be an unassailable right; so long as it is denied to us tolerance is pure fantasy.

Tony Ryde

What is disturbing about the whole episode is The Sunday Telegraph’s inability to admit another point of view — and a point of view backed with rather more experience of the real situation that the author of the original article.

The 1967 Confidence Trick (2)

02-197206XX 3(from page 3)

into doubt all the good work achieved by people who have no connection with obscene publications, but whose first desire is to create a caring and happy society. Fresh legislation is now imperative in the light of this recent development. – I am etc.
IAN C. DUNN, Chairman,
Scottish Minorities Group.

From The Evening Standard, 26th June, 1972.

 

NOW – A GAY PRIDE DEMO

Sir: Milton Shulman’s article ‘Dockers and Homosexuals’ accurately portrays the effects of the recent Appeals decision. Any ordinary person who has been involved in a trial cannot fail to be astounded at how out of touch with present reality most judges seem to be.

What the I.T. decision does is to put many persons, including myself, in peril of arrest, trial and umprisonment. On July 1, there will be a GayPride Demo in Trafalgar Square. The purpose of this clearly is to advocate homosexual practice for homosexuals and to protest against the continued oppression of homosexuals in our society, the 1967 Act notwithstanding. I, and other gay people will continue to defy this absurd law. To be arrested for advocating legal activity is something only a judge would appear not to find ludicrous. Let Parliament speedily remedy the situation or vote money to house a rapidly expanding prison population.

Warren Hague (address supplied)

 

The Guardian, 19th June, 1972

HOMOSEXUALS IN ISOLATION

Sir,
The law acknowledges the right of homosexuals to make love. By rejecting IT’s appeal, the House of Lords continues to support the law’s illogical refusal to allow homosexuals to meet. There an no circumstances under which they can meet. Not in the streets, which is importuning; not in properly conducted social clubs because none is allowed to exist.

Such repression encourages recourse to a few dubious pubs and furtive drinking clubs that cater for homosexuals; it encourages desperate efforts to make contact in public with the consequent risk of police prosecution. It encourages the growth of increasingly militant homosexual organisation. It throws and is throwing, an increasingly large burden on the Samaritans and other social service groups – the only people that the isolated homosexual knows he can turn to.

To use the Ladies Directory case (a list, I understand, of prostitutes) as a precedent for dealing with ordinary homosexual people is appalling enough. But their Lordships decision represents a major piece of discrimination against a section of the community that i,. numerically, larger than our coloured population. The House of Lords was dealing with one underground newspaper; their decision affects the very real needs of isolated people all over the country.
Yours faithfully,
ROGER BAKER
Flat F. 23 Great James Street
London WC1.

 

THE EVENING STANDARD
20th June, 1972.

GAY ADVERTISING

With regard to your news story (June 14) Lords in Clash on Gay Advert, I and the members of the Gay News, would like to point out that we will be carrying personal advertisements for gays of all sexes. We consider it the right of homosexuals to advertise in this way if they so wish, and can see no earthly reason why gays should not be able to do the same as heterosexuals. Hopefully, one day it will not be necessary for any people, no matter what their sexual preference, to advertise in this way. Until gays an free from the isolation imposed on them by society and people in general are released from the misguided taboos that surround sex and sexuality. Gay News will carry personal ads, no matter what the penalty.

Gay News is a national fortnightly paper for gay men and women and will he available this week. – DENNIS LEMON, Gay News, 19 London Street, W.2.