Poly Prejudices

On the third of November a letter was sent to the director, Hedley of the Trent Polytechnic, from its catering manager concerning homosexual activity in the Poly; the head barman complained of people in drag using the bar facilities.

The director explained to the president of the Student’s Union that he wanted the so-called “homosexual elements” out or he would close the bar.

At an Extraordinary General Meeting, a motion was passed to the effect that the union would not accept any discriminatory practices upon people entitled to enter the bar and who are acting within the law.

Although an important issue, since it entails bigoted discrimination against minority groups, many of the members of the union with whom we spoke see this as part of a much larger scheme directed at curbing student autonomy still further, and it was felt by the Labour Club that recent disciplinary action were all part of this attack.

It is seen that Hedley is using this issue to split the Union, on the theory of divide and rule, and that drag is just an excuse, a tactical move, more political especially as it comes at a time when the Instruments and Articles come under review and the Executive’s time is taken up by the bar situation. At the root of Hedley’s continual threats to close the bar is his resolve that he would much rather not have a bar at all if it meant that the standards that he thought appropriate for an institution of further education were not maintained.

He states that he merely wants to maintain the standards which apply in any public house and that he doesn’t want his £13½m development plan endangered by a lot of queers.

He justifies his prejudices against what he affectionately terms “hard-line homosexuals” by referring to what is generally believed to be a fictitious telephone call from the Assistant Chief Constable who allegedly warned repressed Gruppenfuhrer Hedley that hordes of nasty offensive queers were changing their patronage from Mario’s which was following police advice by discouraging overt homosexuality. There is no reason to believe this is true.

Moreover, Hedley’s definition of drag is at best an unconventional one. It seems important to make this clear, by all accounts there has been, with one exception, no real drag except during Karnival.

By drag, Hedley means the use of makeup, and his hatred of homosexuality further manifested itself in the recent Management Committee meeting where he and Lyon (Deputy Director, Student Affairs) insisted that not only the bar was involved. If a person in drag (sic) was found in lectures or any part of the Poly premises, action would be taken. The president replied that in such a case that person would be defended by the Union.

Love and kisses to Gongster, Nottingham University Student’s Paper.

London University Gays

02-197206XX 4CHE and GLF have got together at London University to found a Homophile Society – GAYSOC. So far it has been an object-lesson in co-operation between the two organisations. If nothing else, GAYSOC will be the front behind which gay students of all different persuasions can come together officially, both to speak as a gay voice in student and University affairs where this is needed, and to provide social facilities for themselves similar to those abundantly available for straights. It will also be a means of action.

At our first meeting we necessarily concerned ourselves with organisation and business, but things really livened up at our second meeting. For this we had as guest speaker the noted aversion-therapist Dr. Bancroft of Oxford University. He was not surprisingly, strongly attacked, and though very little constructive dialogue emerged, at least the important issues were aired, and we had a chance to hear the therapist’s justification of his job.

Direct action was taken within three weeks of our starting when almost twenty GAYSOC members turned up at a straight University disco. We were seemingly regarded with amusement or indifference until about an hour from the end when two members were told to leave – “so that the boys and girls can have the last half hour to themselves”; The source of the trouble, apparently, was a number of women (who had got in free) who seemed to regard themselves as having been insulted. No men had complained. We solved this problem by gathering together quickly in a group and making it clear that we were not going to be forced to leave. After the failure of their strong-arm tactics, further intimidation by officials of the disco took the form of herding us into one corner of the dance floor and telling us not to break the law. We ignored this, and they retaliated by playing no slow records from then on. We all left when we felt like it. Next day a notice was placed prominently in the building explaining our case. We regard this whole affair as a significant success; hopefully we may have opened the eyes of a few straights, and it certainly helped to build up a feeling of solidarity between our members. Similar activities are planned for next term.

Our contact address is: GAYSOC. University of London Union, Malet Street, London, W.C.1.

Robert Maynard