Christmas Extensions

LONDON: As we know that a fair number of gays in the West London area will be around over the Christmas period, we thought you might like details of the holiday extensions the most popular of the pubs in this area will be having.

In fact the four main pubs, The Colherne and The Boltons in Earl’s Court, The Champion at Notting Hill Gate, and the Queen’s Head in Tryon Street, Chelsea, will all be having the same extensions. They are: Christmas Eve, till midnight; Boxing Day, also till midnight; and New Years Eve, till 12.30 am.

Please check with the pubs yourselves to see if they are open at all on Christmas Day.

Funny, or How Very Queer

19720901-04Julie Frost, Gay News’s super salesman at The Boltons in Earl’s Court, had a rather strange story to tell after an evening of selling the paper recently.

On leaving his local tube station, Caledonian Road, a car drew up alongside of him and out popped three plain-clothes policemen. Julie was questioned about what he had been doing; his bag of unsold Gay News’s was searched, and a copy of the paper was scrutinised. After more questions and his, and the paper’s, name and address being taken he was allowed to finish his journey home.

A not too unusual occurrence, but wait. When Julie arrived home he noticed a dark blue unmarked police car, with its lights off, parked outside his home. Inside were two uniformed police officers. They were still there when Julie went to bed, and it was observed that they were still there much later that night.

We wonder what all that’s about?

Incidentally, Julie was the cover-model for Issue No. 5 of Gay News. This week Gay News, next week Vogue or Playboy?

Pin Ups and Gay Politics

04-197208XX 05I am writing to give you some of my impressions of your first two issues.

In general I preferred your first issue to the second. What I liked in the first was the air of enthusiasm and of willingness to give expression to the ideas of all gay people. But already in the second issue, one has the impression that the radical feminists in London G.L.F. are to be excluded from the realm of gay people with legitimate grievances to be heard.

Both issues were rather prudish and respectable and I hear the respectable gay establishment of CHE etc. have given you their seal of approval. I was rather surprised when a friend pointed out that in many ways the American Advocate is a better paper than Gay News. People who have seen the American paper will know that it is completely male orientated, that it carries pin ups of “beautiful” men and that it has many adverts for gay clubs and baths. It also has wide news coverage and a certain vitality about it. So far as I can gather it is the most widely read American gay paper. (It would be nice to hear from an American sister or brother about how successful the various types of papers are).

So far Gay News has been completely male orientated and, with luck, your news coverage will become more comprehensive. But besides this the Advocate is also a sexy paper, where yours is not. I like the Biograph reviews, and I am pleased you hope to re-print “the ultimate cottage wall story” from Come Together. I hope to see more of this sort of thing. In many ways written accounts of sexual pleasure may be better than pictures of “Beautiful” people. The piece from Come Together 12 conveyed the excitement of cottaging very well. Gay News should do more to counter the oppressive respectability and anti-sex attitudes that permeate CHE and some of the diverse elements of G.L.F. In order to explain why I think these attitudes are oppressive I would like to discuss the question of pin-ups.

Curiously Mary Whitehouse and some radical elements in G.L.F. agree that pin-ups are bad, arguing that they transform people into sex objects. We are told that we should relate to people as “whole” people and not just as a cock or a vagina. But I, for the life of me, cannot detect a difference between “having sex” and “treating someone as a sex object” – at least in the moment of sexual enjoyment. In the actual process sex is a purely physical emotional and sexual experience. Different people have different physical and emotional needs, but, so far as I can see, in the actual act of sex we can be nothing more nor nothing less than “sex objects”. What is oppressive is to be regarded as nothing more than a sex object which is often the case with women who are supposed to be totally subservient to mens’ whims and fancies, but equally oppressive is the idea that we should never treat each other as sex objects. This is to give sex a mythical and exalted meaning which I can’t understand.

Thus I don’t think pin-ups should be condemned for transforming people into sex objects, but I do think there is a more important objection to pin-ups such as those printed in the Advocate. This is the argument that they tend to nurture and reinforce a rigid conception of what is beautiful. The worship of youth and beauty are an especially pernicious force in the male gay world. From talking to people I think that the problem facing many gay men and women is not that people use them as sex objects but that, because they are old or “ugly” they are deemed unattractive. There is nothing they would like more than to be treated as a “sex object.”

This is a problem G.L.F. has hardly begun to take seriously. I suspect it is a problem beyond CHF’s narrow concern. And within the gay world itself this can be the worst form of oppression faced by many sisters and brothers. We have our own Miss World competition every Saturday night in the Colherne and the Boltons.

With this in mind I think your policy keeping sex in words and not pictures may be the best one since it leaves the visual assumptions about age and beauty to the readers imagination. I hope you will look further into the problem of Gay News being sexy without being oppressive.

There is more I would like to say about the differences between G.L.F. and CHE’s approach to things because I think these are important for the future of Gay News. I agree with many of your criticisms of G.L.F. and the radical feminists in London, and I have heard reports of awful things they have done to people. But your reaction to this seems to have led to over respect for CHE. However, fundamentally I feel G.L.F. has much more to offer most gay people, both at the personal level and at the level of social change, whereas CHE often seems downright oppressive to people who enjoy cottaging, promiscuity etc.

I feel that approval from C.H.E. is rather like a kiss of death for any grass roots and meaningful gay paper. I hope you will become less respectable, I hope your collective will in time become less preoccupied with the mechanics of the production of the paper and have more time to talk about the oppression of gay people as it affects the sisters and brothers within the collective. I would like to explain myself more clearly but will restrain my pen for the time being.

Fraternally yours,

Bob Mellors.

We Know You’re In There

02-197206XX 4The march was scheduled to start at nine, but by nine thirty only thirty or so people were there. Since it seemed unlikely that anyone else would turn up, the march moved off. As they turned the corner into the main road, a couple of slightly hostile policemen cautioned everyone to stay off the pavement, but generally seemed to be rather amused.

The same could not be said of the employees and customers of the two main Earls Court pubs, the Boltons and the Colherne. The GLF leafletters and balloon carriers were quickly ejected from the Boltons and pushed around outside when they persisting in chanting slogans at the people within – “Come out of your shells! We know you’re in there!” and “What is Gay – Good! What is the Boltons – Crap!” did not appear to amuse anyone. All that happened was a minor exodus to the Colherne over the road. There the reception was even more hostile, and the exodus of customers back to the Boltons even larger, but the majority of people seemed singularly unmoved. In fact, there was a total lack of comprehension of one another, which made the customers ignore the marchers and drained any attempt at further action. People just stood around, and the guy from the Colherne gave up yelling “Fuck off” when it had no effect. It seemed obvious to me that no-one in the pubs saw any need for a march, and since they had come out for a drink and to cruise that was what they were going to do. People aren’t too keen to come out and be seen, and shouting at the doors of the pub they are in seemed a singularly ineffective way to persuade them that they would be better off if they did. I’m not at all sure what the march was intended to achieve anyway, but whatever it was, it didn’t. Granted, the passive acceptance of so many people of the whole “gay scene” is a depressing phenomenon, and one does wish gay people would create places for themselves as an alternative, but I didn’t hear a word about that all evening. It was all, alas, entirely predictable, right down to the policeman who moved everyone away at closing time with the immortal words “If I see any of you lot around here again, I’ll arrest you”.