Your Letters Cont.

Intrigued

Manchester M20 9DT

Gentlemen,

Your initial issue was sent to me by courtesy of the SMG. After contemplating your style and format, decided that a subscription for 20 issues would at least be an encouragement. Very promptly issues 2 to 7 arrived. I spent an exhausting evening catching up, somewhat mentally indigestible. Today number 8 arrived. Thank you for expertise, and the underlying instinct of not wishing to sermonise. Every issue has been an improvement on its predecessor. Even those bachelors have been spelt correctly; there must be a reason why the ‘t’ appears in so many gay journals.

The published letters intrigue me as also does your warning to letter writers, surely you don’t mean it? I have a sneaking suspicion that journalists write their own letters: At least you admit to asking, loaded questions to the BBC – considering the present climate of opinion, I think that you got a very fair reply — but surely First Class Philip, who says he is fed up at his classification. Maybe it’s all that ‘fucking’ that labels him. For surely we are classified by others, not ourselves, we just present the evidence, for the writing on the tags. Basically I think I know what he means, or rather implies. After some 30 years’ knowledge of myself as a homosexual, am not over concerned how I am labelled. If the GLF wish to lighten up the darkness, limp wristing it down the Dilly, with a Lily, so what? One does not have to join in. Frankly I rather enjoy the occasions. The audience are often as not more amusing than the play. We are classed, labelled, tagged, call it what you will, by the company we keep. Surely our First Class Male has heard of CHE.

Have been collecting, and subscribing to all types of gay literature and journals for many years. Am currently in the process of comprising a thesis on ‘gay publishing’ past, present and future. It will no doubt give my foundation heart failure, let’s hope the examiners take it home to bed. I’ll get that Ph.D. Cast that couch aside.

Your collective collation full of candour and camp, compels me to enclose a cheque for £5. Better than wasting it on the local rent.

Just for interest’s sake, notice that you have advertised GIN and JEFFERY, no response from them so far. I sent them P.O.’s not wishing to add to my Bank Manager’s heart failure. Way of all flesh no doubt. Quorum seem to be quivering, maybe it’s that man at the G.P.O.

Lots of luck – but does Mr J.D. Blount exist? Your cullusive collective.

With apologies for the alliteration and the typescript. Must find myself an au pair boy who can type.

Richard Spenceley

ED: The letters printed in GN are, of course, all received from readers. Thanks for your donation, Richard, it’s now safely in our vaults.

Our Wonderful Policemen

Surbiton,
Surrey.

Dear Gay News,

In many gay’ publications, including Gay News, one reads with monotonous regularity complaints and stories of allegations against the police concerning their actions and manner towards gay people.

In GN9 there was an article called Spying in Cubicles. The writer complained of police action against him. I would like to ask him what does he think should happen? I am sure he must be fully aware that such actions to which he admits can only lead to arrest, prosecution and punishment. So if he wishes to engage in such pastimes in public places instead of in private places, he should take his punishment and learn from it and not try to cast blame on the police for doing their duty. He also states that there were no children about that afternoon, but I am sure he must now be aware that a young child could have walked in, if he was not so aware before.

I would also state that I have used both gay pubs in Earls Court and many others, and have seen police move people on outside the Coleherne, but it has been when the footway has been completely obstructed and passers-by have been forced to push through a crowd or walk in the roadway. Their manner (the police) I have found to be polite and justifiable.

The number of times I have been stopped while trolling by the police, I have again found them polite and courteous. Perhaps if one takes a reasonable manner with the police they in turn will take a reasonable line with us. At least, that is my opinion, after many encounters.

I would further state that I am not a police officer nor in any way connected with the police.

Yours faithfully.

S. J. Gardner

Women in the Background

Caerphilly,
Glam,
Wales

Dear Sir,

I agree women do tend to remain in the background a lot more than our brothers, there are many reasons for this.

In the provinces, clubs are few and far between, and many of us don’t care for group activities. In fact, I feel there are still many who do not know these groups exist. I myself, until recently, didn’t know CHE or Gay Lib existed, until I heard Speakeasy on the radio (GN1). There’s one exception, of course, some knew they were gay very early, but not all of us realised we were gay until we were married with children, then what could we do? A divorce, perhaps. That’s not always easy when children are involved. And, admit it, who wants to know you when you’ve got ties? Do we have to wait maybe years, before we can start to live, too. Or will someone, somewhere, realise our need, too, and give us a chance to meet discreetly, not in clubs or bars, but with others like us who need to be discreet.

Women have their cross to bear, too. It may be legal for us, but a great many of us must keep in the background, behind closed doors, because we were not lucky enough to realise we were gay. It’s not only single people who are gay, there’s thousands of us. married with families, and remember there are still a great many who are still in the dark concerning gay magazines, papers, etc. Another way must soon be found if we are to bring a ray of light into these lives.

So, if there is any reader living in the Cardiff area, who would be interested in coming along to a coffee evening, to meet others to talk, relax, or any reader anywhere who would like to write to me, there will always be a friendly ear, and a reply.

Please write to Mrs. D. Higuera, 2 Haldane Court, Lansbury Park, Caerphilly, Glam, South Wales.

D. Higuera (Mrs)

Strange Customs

Dear Collective,

Until I read the letter from HRA of London in GN9 referring to the reply he received to an ad published in a previous issue, I had no idea that it was possible to obtain such material for less than the exorbitant sums charged in the back rooms of Soho bookshops.

I immediately despatched postal orders in many directions to see whether any of them solicited a similar reply. Unfortunately, my letter to Lux Publications in Amsterdam solicited only a note from HM Customs and Excise informing me that I had contravened the Exchange Control Act of 1947 and that my postal order had been seized. This was not what I had been expecting, nor could it be described as an acceptable substitute. I was, therefore, dismayed. And not a little curious to know how they knew there was a PO in the letter. Would it be cynical to suggest that perhaps they have a list of continental magazine publishers (and, by extension, a record of those who write to them?)

If any other readers have had a similar problem, they might like to know that the solution (at least to the financial aspect) is an International Money Order, which, unfortunately, costs 40p as opposed to 2½p for a postal order. The extra expense, however, would safeguard against the interception of mail on grounds of Exchange Control infringement — ie they’d have to find another reason if they really wanted to stop a letter. It would also avoid the disquieting situation of knowing one’s private correspondence is filed in HM vaults (under G for you-know-wot, perhaps).

Incidentally, if someone at HMC&E has been compiling a little list, if he cares to return my postal order I’d gladly send him a photo to file with my name and address.

JT

Ad To Your Pleasure

Dear Sir,

May I thank you so much for such quick replies to my advert in GN9. I have now replied to all concerned, but feel that if it had not been for you, I don’t know what I’d have done. Keep up the good work.

May God bless all gays, Graham

Your nearest Bottle of Librium

01-197205XX 2The B.B.C.’s Religious Broadcasts Department are proud of their forum-cum-chat show, “Speakeasy” broadcast on Radio 1 on Sunday afternoons. They make pretty sure their audience knows it too, making a point of announcing that Speakeasy is the only show of its kind in the world, where the ordinary-man-in-the-street can come in and voice his opinions on any topic which happens to be discussed at the time. Jimmy Saville, who chairs the show, encourages the assembled audience to speak our and participate (via the roving microphones), since the show is (to paraphrase both the producer, Roy Trevivian, and Jimmy Saville in the warm-up period) 80% yours, to do as you like – the panel of experts here are purely for technical guidance and know-how.

Needless to say, after all this is said, the audience, sometimes gets a word in edgeways.

On the Friday that “Speakeasy” recorded a discussion on sports and subsidies, Jimmy Saville closed the show by saying something that provoked a stifled, embarrassed laughter – if you had heard it, it would have sent you grasping for your nearest bottle of librium. He told the audience that, unfortunately, they wouldn’t hold the next show at its usual home, the Paris studio, not because it was going on the road, but because they were dealing with a rather controversial and sensitive subject, to which you probably wouldn’t come anyway – that of homosexuality. Thus contradicting their own publicity blurb about Free Speech and Man in the Street. It obviously stirred a lot of interest amongst the Gay Brothers who either happened to be there, or heard of it through the grapevine.

Subsequently our gay friends made furtive enquiries to Rev. Roy Trevivian the producer and in each case reached his secretary, who then, in turn, handed the phone to the researcher, Pat Honey.

When asked why Gay Liberation or Gay News hadn’t been invited to send representatives, and where the programme was being recorded, and why it was being done secretly, without being open to interested parties, she gave a reply to the effect that: The programme was being held in a small room before an already selected audience, which couldn’t be enlarged upon “for obvious reasons”.
No further questions or comments were put to Miss Honey, and she volunteered no information herself, except that the might ring up Gay News to see what they have to say.

(G.L.F. source) 18/5/72

“Over there Mr. Roving Mike”

01-197205XX 3Over the airwaves came this sane, rational, slightly wary programme, busy with being reasonable, a little tinged with nervousness and heavily colourwashed with a genteel shade of apologia. But the programme as she is spoke was a little different.

You couldn’t see the paraphenalia of speakers and microphones, the small group of hard chairs in a room fit to hold at least twenty more. And a good many chairs were empty. You didn’t have to sit through the build-up from the producer and Jimmy… about how they hated to edit the programme, so no cussin’ and so on. About the number of listeners, to remind us of our responsibility. About who we were, anywhere we came from and again the confusion of Gay News with Gay Lib came up. And then some wise child asked the producer if he was gay and was told, “In inverted commas, ‘no’, otherwise yes.”

Radio suffers from being non-visual, as well as deriving certain advantages from it. When someone began talking about bleached hair, we all laughed because Jimmy Saville has bleached hair. When Jimmy talked about the number of people there, he was able to imply the existence of a fair sized gathering, when in fact there were fewer than a hundred, probably as low as fifty. When he said we all looked sober and businesslike, you couldn’t see me in the front row with me blue velvet jacket and bright silver boots (among other things, I hasten to add).

But more important than the little white lies radio allows you to tell is the greater one – that this was a free programme of people being given a fair chance to have their say. Let me explain the set-up. Jimmy was on a little stage with the group. On the floor of the room they were using as a studio, one at each side, were rather sober and not-unheavy gentlemen, each carrying a microphone attached to many yards of wire. You got your chance to speak when Jimmy allowed it – and since he obviously thought we were going to be troublesom, and the running order to which he frequently referred did not include any discussion of radical gayness, it took him a long while to send it our way. Often I found that the discussion had taken a sidetrack and by the time he waved a mike to me, my point was irrelevant. Other times the subject was changed altogether. How far this was influenced by the voice of the producers in Jimmy’s earpiece, I cannot say. Yet when the programme began to change character, and started to pursue any topic in depth, it seemed to be the exact moment for another piece of music. In short, it was in no sense of the word a discussion programme.

Actually talking into the mike was intimidating, too. Since I was sitting right in Front of Jimmy, the man holding the mike stood between us (then was room to one side). Consequently I had to either talk to the mike itself, or try to see how Jimmy was reacting via this large gentleman’s armpit – but it didn’t seem to matter most of the time, as Jimmy was usually looking at the other roving mike, and positioning it so he could cut in swiftly when I or anyone else paused for breath. The major occasion when we actually talked to one another was in arguing about drag, transvestites, and so-called effeminate behaviour, which he and everyone else had bundled up into one package labelled bad. It is not easy, in a few sentences, and in these surroundings, to separate the three and defend them, also separately. Especially as Jimmy was more interested in making the point written down on his order sheet (which presumably said ‘homosexuals are not like that’, where it ought to have said ‘not all… etc.’). And so he tried to steer me up the garden path and strand me, because I wasn’t in drag. I could have been a mite less honest than I was, and said that there was no point when the audience were listeners, not watchers – but in an already rather dishonest programme I did not wish to compound the felony.

As far as I could tell, both from the way the talk was steered and the reception of some of the statements, the plan of the programme was to present gays as nice, safe, normal, unremarkable people just like everyone else, valiantly fitting in where they are plainly meant not to go (since the law still treats us as perverts and a danger, and so do most people). It said nothing about gay people who believe, as I do, that we are different and in some respects better, and that we are capable of evolving a lifestyle of our own which would be perfectly compatible with every other possible sexual and ethnic group (something which predominantly heterosexual societies have never managed to do). Of course, taken as a whole we are no better or worse than anyone else, but we will not become anything like compete as individuals whilst we play pretend marriage and domesticity, which are plainly not, and never will be, the ways in which two or more men can build a life together. Only legal and financial lies, coupled with societal pressure of belief, make sure that heterosexual marriages continue at all. And this is what is meant, at basis, by being acceptable – it means behaving like a certain group of people who are plainly different in a fundamental respect from ourselves, and in a way which they themselves find near impossible.

But what the programme did do was to reach a number of people who have never met another gay person in their lives before, who have lived in loneliness and fear, and now find that they are not alone. In the couple of weeks following the programme the Albany Test alone had over a hundred letters of this kind. And it must have given courage to many others. It will have helped to case the tensions in a home such as mine, in which I live with my parents and only recently faced them with the fact that I am gay. It will have helped the painful process of dispelling all the history of prejudice and censure that we have faced and still do. Above all, it slated loud and clear the one fact that must be said again and again – that gayness is about love, that it is no different in any way from heterosexuality, that both are as good, as fulfilling, and as human as each other. The only perversion is their persecution of our freedom as though we were less than human.

As with so many other things, the control of the producer is the crucial factor, deciding as it does the image of a particular person or group of people which is communicated to the audience. When the audience is as large as 5 or 6 million, as it is with Speakeasy, then the producer of that programme has an enormous responsibility to the group he is portraying – in this case, gay people. Yet there was little preparation for the programme and it only lasted one hour, and so time was precious, an attempt was made to exclude certain sections of the gay community, who do have something to say, whether or not you agree with it. Those organisations which were represented did not cover anything like a wide range, being for the most part composed of people who seemed not a million miles from the self-pitying legions of the unfortunate living out their twisted lives – ‘but it wasn’t our fault’. So much more consultation should have taken place, so much more time spent before and during the programme. The only way we can be at all sure that a fair image of us goes out to those who don’t know is to do the job ourselves. It will be, I am sure, a very interesting exercise for both the producer and the participants.


 

c/o The Albany Trust
32 Shaftsbury Avenue
London W.C.1.
22nd May 1972

“Gay News”
19 London Street
London W.2

Dear Peter and David,

Anthony Grey tells me that I am in the dog house as far as Gay News is concerned. I also seem to be pig-in-the-middle over the BBC Speakeasy programme. I am sorry that it has been construed that I was indulging in jiggery pokery. It’ll teach me in future not to be lumbered with other people’s chores. The BBC rang and asked me to find thirty gay people as representatives of as many organisations and groups as I know, excepting Gay Lib. They also talked about something called “Challenge”, which I assumed was a Gay Liberation Front venture. There seems to be have been some misunderstanding and a right cock-up in the arrangements for the programme. I am sorry if I have hurt anybody’s feelings or made them feel that there was dirty work afoot I am glad everybody represented in the programme seemed to take a full park in the discussion and the Gay Liberation Front more than held its own.

May I wish Gay News every success. If at any time you feel I could contribute anything useful, let me know.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Butler