Your Letters

Please note that any letters received by us at Gay News are liable to be published unless you state otherwise.

Rallying Point

Dear Gay News,

I saw Gay News on sale at Better Books Charing Cross Road – and my eagerness to find out about you overcame the diffidence/shyness that makes one hesitant at making a purchase which tactically ‘labels’ the purchaser. (Yes I know it’s foolish: why should we be furtive? It is a habit that many of us have grown into in self-defence but or rather thanks to GLF, CHE and publications like yours — it is becoming increasingly unnecessary).

The paper is just what was lacking, a sort of rallying point for all the progressive movements that have sprung up in recent years. Nothing is more encouraging to potential activists than news of what other people are doing. I’m sure you are going to do a great deal of good for the homosexual cause just by existing, for there is a danger of slipping back if the movements become splintered up with too much infighting. This is how ‘they’ have always kept the upper hand, divide and rule. By uniting all the various groups informally, which Gay News does simply by reporting what everyone is doing, we can avert this danger and continue to move forward. You are right to preserve your independence since this way you can be of greatest value to all groups and individuals… may you go from strength to strength.

Not the least pleasurable thing about Gay News is your selling price. For the first time we have a publication that everyone can afford, not just a rip-off ‘bold’ progressive Gay Magazine which just happens to cost 50p (or more) an issue. For far too long, gay people have been exploited by publishers who have artificially inflated prices just to make a quick profit – and this attitude extends to other spheres. Perhaps with your encouragement we can attack this particular injustice too. Readers will I’m sure, respond to your invitation on page ten to write in with comments on goods and services etc. This is a case where unity is strength since gay people are consumers with enormous total purchasing power – and only too eager to go where the best value is to be found.

Let me end with a practical suggestion for those readers like myself who are non-activist but feel they would like to do something tangible for the cause. Campaigning and street selling, etc are for the youngsters, and many of us cannot afford to be over-generous with our money or time. But there is one simple, and inexpensive thing we can do, buy two copies instead of one and leave the extra one on the train or bus or wherever it can do most good. With best wishes to everyone responsible for Gay News which is so beautifully produced in every way. Keep up the good work.

John

Vassall and Parole

Chiswick, London W4.

Dear Gay News,

Having read the letter from Michael, of Bromley, in yesterday’s Gay News, (GN12, page 6) I feel that it is imperative that the misconception raised thereby should be corrected without delay.

A person released on licence by the Secretary of State under Sec 60, Criminal Justice Act 1967 (CJA67) is only subject to supervision under that licence until the actual day upon which he would have normally been due for release from prison had he not been granted parole. After that date he is just as free from restrictions as if he had never been allowed early release on licence. This is an absolute rule (always provided that no further offence has been committed during the parole period); it could not be otherwise: to extend the period of supervision beyond the normal release-date would be to increase the sentence imposed by the judge at the trial. I quote:

“A licence granted to any person under this section shall … remain in force until a date specified in the licence, being …
… the date on which he could have been discharged from prison on remission of part of his sentence under the prison rules …”

CJA67, Sec 60(6) (b)

Therefore Vassall will only be subject to supervision for some TWO years – not eight as suggested – that is until the date upon which his release would have been due in any event.*

If any Gay News readers are troubled with legal problems on which they would like advice, I would be only too glad to anwer any enquiries, which should be sent to me c/o the Gay News Office. When writing, remember the more detail you give the easier it is to give advice. All letters will, of course, be treated in the strictest confidence. Love to all gays – everywhere,

Steve Williams

*Ps: The recently passed CJA72 in no way affects what I’ve said re parole.

Gay Public Relations

London, SW4

Dear GN Collective,

When I first started subscribing to Gay News I was none too sure of my motives. A homosexual newspaper must, by definition, be primarily concerned with sex. I have never bought or subscribed to any other sex-orientated paper or magazine before, so why do I read Gay News? Perhaps more than anything to be reassured that I am not some sort of freak, that, as Lord Arran put it in GN1, we are ‘… just human beings like anyone else.’

The problem is of course that society at large still has difficulty in believing this. Lord Arran suggested that publicity can only do us harm. It can ‘…only re-arouse the slowly dying hatreds… But without publicity we simply return to square one – those strange creatures who inhabit a twilight world — a subject best swept under the carpet. We can only become acceptable if we publicise the fact, as often as possible, that we are about as normal as anyone else, and not people to be despised or feared.

Because of our limited acceptability we have practically no access to national newspapers, so the next best thing is our own newspaper. Gay News. We, like other minority groups — Naturists, Esperantists, Radio Hams, Women’s Lib (at least you may have heard of these) – are getting our own nationwide newspapers and journals, as well as clubs and societies for those who need them. Let’s hope Gay News becomes as acceptable and as popular as Hi-fi News, Woman’s Own or Dalton’s Weekly. More popular!

Chris

Correcting False Impressions

Dear Gay News,

In reference to Jakov Geissmann’s report on our recent Jewish national ”Think-In” entitled “Judaism and the Jewish Homosexual”, I became deeply disturbed on his very false impression in the way he described it as 8 hours of “boredom” to the extent that he himself left the meeting in the middle of our principal guest speaker’s talk. In order that your readers should not be misinformed, it’s my duty (as organiser of this think-in) to emphasise the positive structure and climax of this meeting. I have since discussed it with out Jewish group, and we are generally convinced that indeed it was a very successful meeting. Incidentally, no member of the group has ever heard of Jakov Geissmann so I can only presume that he sent in his report purely as an observer. Briefly, please allow me space in your column to inform your readers why we believe it was a success.

(1) Dr. Wendy Greengross in her opening remarks, accepting us as normal and healthy people, being part of society in the same way as heterosexuals.

(2) The vast number of Jewish gays who publicly declared themselves, just like an awareness group, where everybody quite freely spoke about themselves, especially in relationship to their families, followed by a general discussion.

(3) Last, but not least, our principal guest speaker, Dr Alan Unterman PhD, Student Chaplain to Manchester University, and a very humanistic and religious Jew, has made a deep research into the problems facing Jewish gays. Admittedly he quoted the Bible which forbids homosexuality, however he emphasised that according to “Judaism” there are no heterosexuals or homosexuals, basically we are all bi-sexual, although many people would disagree on this fact. He said, that Adam, being the first man was created both male and female, and at the birth of Eve, Adam was split.

He went on to define that “male and female are two halves of one whole”. His talk was obviously followed by a very heated discussion, but I stress at no time did he reject us, on the contrary he constantly accepted us as “normal” people, but insisted that we are all bi-sexual. The session ended with a very moving talk by Antony Grey of the Albany Trust, who throughout his ten years of counselling, mentioned the disturbing number of Jewish gays where marriage and family unity in the Jewish religion was the main problem facing the Jewish Gay. None of these points I’ve mentioned was remarked by Jakov Geissmann. Also since he even left before Antony Grey’s talk, on the contrary, Mr Grey himself said that he found the entire meeting most interesting and constructive and enjoyed every minute of it. In conclusion, due to our questionnaire form. I’ve had a massive response from Jewish gays interested to continue a Jewish group and I shall be pleased to answer anyone who wishes to write to me. Last, but not least, may I take this opportunity in congratulating Gay News . as Britain’s No 1 first class independent gay paper, you are doing a wonderful job and I sincerely hope that eventually your paper will be available over the counter at all national newsagents and bookstalls throughout the country.

Love and Peace,

Simon Benson, Albion Court, 75 Larkhall Rise, London SW4 6HS

Better Understanding

Dear GN,

I welcome the news that GN is branching further afield and featuring items of general interest.

This is a wise decision as it will strengthen the paper and attract heterosexuals to read Gay News, and also make them understand the problems we face and that our views on life are similar to theirs.

This in turn will make for a better understanding in our fight for equal recognition.

Carry on GN, you have my full support.

P Atkins (Miss)

Utterly Amazed

Osterley TW7 4PX
Middlesex.

Dear Gay News,

I have read and enjoyed all the issues of Gay News to date, but I find one startling fact about your ads, and that is that your paper puts an ad in pleading for new premises and has done so for quite a few months now, but to my utter amazement (and no doubt yours) you have had no response whatsoever. Surely there must be property owners in London who could help you out. In fact I would have thought that gay people all over London would wish to help THEIR paper out.

Sadly it is quite obvious to me that whilst it’s okay to read Gay News in private it is too much to help out a damn good paper openly.

Finally I would like to stress that I am in no way connected with Gay News but felt so disgusted with the gay community to which this letter concerns that I felt something should be said publicly on your behalf,

Royston Williams

Lemon Drop Kids

London, N8

Dear Lemon,

When will you realise that throwing shit at Martin Stafford is counter-productive?

I know that Martin is a humourless little twerp who’s dreadfully hung up; but if that’s his kink, let him be.

It’s very wrong of you to think that Martin is alone in his opinions. He isn’t. Throughout the country he has a great deal of support – especially from the more paranoid ghetto queens. But his supporters are by no means confined to that group.

Fresh recruits flock to his counter-revolutionary banner all the time. Some just agree with everything he says: others feel sorry for him (if you’ve ever seen him you’ll know what I mean) and tend to be especially so after the sort of bollocking he got in GN11.

The Martin Staffords of this world have an annoying habit of having the last laugh. This may well not happen with the Martin Stafford, as he does not seem able to laugh.

The only way to get rid of this type of person who constantly tries to betray his own kind is to let him condemn himself with his own (incredibly silly) words. I suggest you forgo the Bitter Lemon and try a bit of arsenic and old lace.

James Knight

ED: Denis Lemon did not write the piece concerning Martin Stafford in GN11, although he does completely condone what was said.

No Drinking

Bedfordshire

Dear Sirs,

I would like to pass a mild comment on the article ‘Lancette’ by a ‘real doctor’, in Gay News No9

The author states that the only reason doctors advise against alcohol is that one is likely to have carefree sex if one is drunk; and that in no way does alcohol affect the treatment being given.

I’m undergoing a course of treatment of pills to clear myself of non-specific urethritis. After having taken them for nearly a week, my symptoms subsided to the extent that I had to look for them. One evening (still taking the pills) I had less than five drinks.

On awakening the next morning, my symptoms had re appeared, and the discharge I was suffering had worsened.

My I suggest to your author that he thinks before quoting age-old cliches, and that he doesn’t include us all in the sexist gay society in London, where sleeping with a man is as common as drinking a glass of water. Sex is, to me, still very beautiful and very personal.

N. Ferguson

Lancette

I made it very clear in my previous article about VD (crabs and scabies) that a thorough wash every day is essential to people that have it off lots of times with lots of different people. Avoiding crabs and scabies is fairly easy because they’re quite large animals and you can see them, or at least what they do to the outside of your body. Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Non-Specific Urethritis (NSU) and other diseases caught particularly by sexual contact are caused by nasty little creatures that can’t be seen with the nude eye. I’m not going to talk specifically about these different diseases at the moment, but I am going to suggest advice on how to avoid them.

Don’t fuck or be fucked if you have any kind of sore on your prick, cunt or bum. See a doctor. It might be nothing, but check.

After you’ve fucked someone have a piss – it helps to flush out the germs that might be creeping up your piss pipe – wash your cock.

If you are about to be fucked, have a look at his cock first. If there is any kind of sore or spot or wart, forget it. If you really must — just have a mutual wank, but wash your hands afterwards. Warts on the cock, cunt or bum if ignored, are particularly difficult to get rid of, even more so than warts anywhere else on your body. They are not particularly harmful, and may go away of their own accord some time or other, but what right have you to pass them on to anyone else! See your doctor.

If you have any kind of burning sensation when you piss or any kind of discharge from your peehole before or after pissing that doesn’t look like normal piss (cloudy, darker, or thicker) then if you get into bed with anyone the chances are you’re passing on VD and I’d like to kick you in the groin. You deserve it!

Anyone with any kind of worry about Venereal Disease should go to their own doctor, and remember that if he tells any one of your own family or employers about it he can be struck off the register, so he’s bound to be a nice man really. Or go to your local hospital and boldly ask for the ‘Special Treatment Centre’ or VD Clinic, giving someone else’s name and false occupation. They don’t mind but they are inclined to treat you as the scum of the earth. Take the treatment but not the moralising.

PS. If the moralising doctors suggest that you should not drink alcohol because you are being treated for VD of any kind, ignore them. In their own way they’re really saying “if this patient gets drunk he’s likely to go out and fuck somebody else” (or be fucked) it is absolutely nothing to do with the treatment or the drugs used in any kind of VD. It is just that they think you need a little punishment. Death to quacks.

PPS. I’ve never come across a personal vibrator with warts.

PPPS. I’ve never met anyone in my thirty one years of life that doesn’t wank and isn’t a liar. It’s a very healthy exercise — carry on, I’m off to have one now.

Gay Women and VD

A Personal Experience

I first rang the hospital to check the times of opening and was told that the Special clinic stayed open until 6.30 pm. to allow for people to attend after work. So we arrived there in the middle of the afternoon to avoid the rush. For anyone who is trying to be discreet about attending a Venereal Disease clinic, they might become embarrassed as they find huge notices SPECIAL CLINIC outside the building. So any passers-by that might be watching know full well what you have been up to.

On entering we registered with a very nice receptionist taking note that “Men” one side, “Women” the other. You are then given a little orange card with a number on. It is important you don’t lose this as you are called by number and not name. We then went to the Social Worker’s office, who took us to the Nurse in charge and we were asked to sit down and wait in line with other women. Giving everybody plenty of time for thought as to what each and all have been doing. About 10 minutes later our numbers were called, the voice coming out of a little letter box by a door. So we went in to see our Doctors and I was asked “What symptoms have you got and who and when did I last have intercourse with?” I took a deep breath and told him I hadn’t had intercourse with a man, but sexual relations with a woman. Fast and furious scribblings took place on my notes! More questions about symptoms and then I was put into a little room, whereupon I was asked to remove my underwear. During which time three female nurses charged in for a chat, I wondered what my Doctor had been saying about me. I couldn’t help wondering if they were homosexual too. Just as I finished having my tests done – these being painless but uncomfortable, I saw the doctor whom my colleague was attending, rush in to see my Doctor, have a few words and nodding of the head and rush out again. After the internal examinations I got dressed and went into another corridor for a blood test. There I met my colleague sitting stony faced and obviously annoyed.

It appears her Doctor had asked “What is the problem?” and she answered “No problem. I am here with my girl friend who is having a check up.” “Have you had intercourse?” “I have not” she replied. “Oh! Have you had sexual contact with your friend?” “Yes” she says. He then got up, went out of the room, came back about five minutes later then asked her to get ready for the internal examinations. This caused her great concern and she hesitated at the realisation of what she had to go through. He may be a Doctor, but he was still a male. She therefore froze during the examination, making it more difficult. When he finished he went back to the file and wrote HOMOSEXUAL across it. Now she is not ashamed of being homosexual, but she was quite right in saying that he need not have been so blatant about it. So that the nurses, social worker, receptionist and whoever else might have access to the file would read it and would cause her embarrassment if she had to return again. In order to follow this visit through we telephoned for our results a few days later. Relieved to report that they were both negative. To be fair, it was a well-run clinic and cancer smears were also taken so even if you are a female homosexual do not be put off going there if you need to. After all you are attending a special clinic and we are classed, are we not, by society as something special.

The Homosexual Woman & Venereal Disease

19720914-08In Issue No. 1 of Gay News a Consultant wrote a feature on Venereal Disease mainly concerning himself with the male homosexual and the symptoms which surround these diseases, but female homosexuals are not exempt from them, so I shall try to clarify and enlighten women as to their symptoms and the process of going through a Clinic for treatment.

At one time female homosexual patients used to express surprise that they could in fact have been infected with Venereal Disease by contact with their own sex, but the germ Syphilis (spiral shaped) can only live in warm moist conditions such as those which occur in the vagina, mouth and anus, therefore if a female homosexual often practices “cunnilingus” ie the act of tickling the woman’s clitoris with her tongue, she is therefore spreading the infected area simply by kissing, or if there is a very small abrasion in the anogenital region it will enter and can spread through the body in a matter of hours. I must stress here that Syphilis, if left untreated, can kill. This disease progresses through Four Stages and is identified by diagnosing the germs in the sores and by blood tests.

The First Stage

The first sign of syphilis can make its appearance any time between ten days and twelve weeks after infection. The first sign is usually a single, painless ulcer on or around the sexual organs. Although these ulcers are painless and might even appear to clear up all on their own, they should not be ignored they are highly infectious. In fact, if there is an ulcer on or around the sexual organs, it is always sensible to assume that it is syphilitic until proved otherwise at a clinic. If syphilis is not treated at this stage, it might appear to clear up, but usually all that is happening is that the infection has spread to various parts of the body and that the second stage of the disease is developing. As this first stage can be so easily missed, the only really sensible thing to do is to have a check-up, even if there’s only the remotest chance that you may have caught it.

The Second Stage

The most obvious and most typical sign is a body rash which cannot be missed. Usually this rash doesn’t itch or cause discomfort.

This stage may be accompanied by general signs of ill-health, loss of weight, poor appetite, and so on. Because the rash will eventually disappear, this second stage is sometimes ignored. It is, however, the most acute and highly infectious stage of syphilis.

The Third Stage

If untreated, syphilis will continue to develop, and the possibility of infecting others will remain. This third stage is called the latent stage because it is a time when the infection appears to have disappeared since it shows no symptoms. It can last from a few months to a lifetime.

The Fourth Stage

At this stage, the damage caused by the infection becomes apparent. There is absolutely no means of curing the damage. All that treatment can do is to alleviate the symptoms and prevent complications. In one out of every three untreated cases the disease at this stage may have attacked the heart or brain or any other organ.

Treatment of Syphilis consists of a number of injections of penicillin or another antibiotic, and it may be injected daily for seven to fourteen days. Occasionally, a different, longer-acting preparation may be injected. If the disease has been present for quite a time before the patient goes for treatment, the doctor may decide to institute long-term treatment to make sure that the spirochaetes do not have a chance to survive. It is vital to follow the doctor’s instructions on medication if the disease is to be properly eliminated.

Let us now take a look at gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea is the commonest form of Venereal Disease. Its cause is a fragile germ which survives and multiplies in the sexual organs of a woman and should one woman have had intercourse at any time with a male

and picked it up, the germ may be there without her knowing it. In homosexual women, when one sexual passage comes into direct contact with another, the gonocci have a chance to move – a chance which they usually snap up – and when they are settled

Under the microscope, gonococci, the bacteria causing gonorrhoea, are seen as pink, coffee beanshaped germs, lying inside white blood cells.

in their new home, usually at the neck of the womb, they begin to multiply. Sometimes the gonocci may invade the anus as the vagina is very close. When gonorrhea occurs in the anus and rectum the person may not notice it because the symptoms are very mild. Sometimes, however, they will suffer from a discharge or itching or a feeling of dampness at the anus. Also, there may be mucus (slime) or pus in the faeces (shit). Sometimes the symptoms may be severe with a lot of mucus being discharged and a great deal of pain on defaecating. If the condition remains for a long time untreated, warts may develop around the anus.

In the early stages it is very nearly impossible for a woman to know if she has gonorrhea. She may notice discomfort or tickling and a burning feeling on passing urine. She may pass urine more frequently than usual and there may be a discharge from her vagina. Often, if there is a discharge it is very slight, though it may stain the knickers. Occasionally, the discharge is sufficient to cause a sore patch between the legs. There are all sorts of places that gonorrhea may spread to, but the most complicated is when it spreads up through the womb or uterus and into the tubes leading into it, called the fallopian tubes. Usually, this produces a severe infection of the tubes with pain low down in the abdomen on one or both sides. Often there is a temperature, fever, vomiting, nausea and a headache. The woman looks ill and the doctor may have some difficulty in distinguishing the problem from appendicitis or other emergency conditions of the abdomen.

Diagnosis of gonorrhea in women takes longer. More than one examination may be required. A correct diagnosis can be made by taking a smear of the discharge and other secretions and a sample of blood. Treatment is usually with penicillin and started at once. Often one injection is enough, but patients are asked to return to the clinic for confirmation of a cure.

There is another disease which can affect women and can be transmitted to their sexual partners; it is Candida Albicans. This creature commonly lives on the skin, in the mouth, in the bowels and in the vagina. This causes a vaginal discharge in women. Sometimes the discharge is produced in large quantities causing soreness of the inner thighs and staining of the underwear. The itching may be quite severe, and it is often worse at night, probably because of the added warmth of the bed. It can be severe enough to stop the woman from sleeping and if this continues she will become bad tempered, overtired, unable to cope with things. The itching can also be a problem during the day, and the desire to scratch the offending part can be quite embarrassing. Candida Albicans is discovered by a physical examination when the doctor will scrape the inside of the vagina with a blunt instrument (which is painless) and then examine this under the microscope having stained it with a special chemical to colour the fungus if it is present. The treatment consists of using an antibiotic called Nystatin, which comes in the form of special pessaries or cream. The pessaries are placed in the vagina and the antibiotic is released to cover the inside of the vagina. Sometimes a doctor will paint the inside of the vagina with a dilute solution of gentian violet which also kills the fungus – though one does end up with brilliant purple underwear.

Women are prone to a number of infections in the vagina and any woman who has a persistent discharge which stains the underwear should either consult their own doctor or seek advice at a clinic. It is in the interest of all homosexuals to seek medical advice at once if they suspect that they may be infected.

The Homosexual and Venereal Disease

A REPLY

03-197207XX-08In the first issue we printed an article entitled “The Homosexual and Venereal Disease”, which we felt contained, along with very sound medical advice, some unpleasant and unnecessary moral attitudes. On consulting another doctor about this, he told us that “it is written in medical prose where words have a precise meaning without any associated concepts that may occur in ordinary prose” – in other words, it did not carry any moral overtones.

The article began by stating that, “the two main reservoirs of venereal disease in this country …. are the promiscuous female and the promiscuous ‘passive’ homosexual male”.

To me, this paints a rather impossible picture ….. after all, how did they get V.D. in the first place. If we must distribute ‘blame’ – which in itself seems a stupid thing to do – then surely the ‘promiscuous’ heterosexual male and the ‘promiscuous’ ‘active’ homosexual male ought to come in for an equal share of it? But in any case, only another doctor could (possibly) read it as “medical prose …without any associated concepts” – to anyone else, these words are bound to carry some connotations, and doctors should surely be aware of this, and take account of it when dealing with ordinary people? Using words which, to the layman, inevitably have a disapproving ring (whether they are meant like that or not) can only defeat the object of the exercise, which is to encourage people not to be ashamed about requesting treatment for something which could happen to any of us.

Another error, and one which the medical profession seems peculiarly addicted to, is the division of male gays into rigid categories of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ – it hardly needs me to say that people are generally more interesting than that. Perhaps it stems from doctors thinking largely in heterosexual terms.

But why should the whole attitude of the medical profession revolve around finding and treating individual cases? How much time, effort, and money is being devoted to the other side of it – to preventative vaccines, routine screenings, research into the eradication of V.D. generally? Not very much, I would guess. After all, the treatment clinics, in the main, are clearly kept short of money. No doubt the Festival of Lighters and their cohorts would be down like a ton of bricks if V.D. treatment and research were ever given a higher priority in hospital budgeting – on the grounds that if people weren’t “promiscuous” (i.e. remained frustrated and repressed) the dangers wouldn’t exist. Is it not true to say that V.D. is being used as a moral weapon in defence of the established uptight morality? Or to put it another way, it’s easier to reinforce the guilt people feel about sex than it is to embark on a comprehensive programme of research and treatment in order to remove one of the risks involved. And it’s cheaper too.

Despite their rather high opinion of themselves, doctors, like policemen, are only people like anybody else. Amongst people generally, there is an appalling amount of ignorance about gayness, and an equally appalling amount of prejudice, and doctors are just as likely to be prejudiced as anyone else. You may fall foul of one who, whilst treating you for V.D., will attempt to persuade you to be ‘treated’ for homosexuality too, as if it were some sort of sickness. Or he may over emphasise the seriousness of whatever you’ve got, or just be downright rude, inconsiderate, and even cruel. With such doctors, the important thing to remember is that, when it comes to gayness, you know more about it than he does – his training will only have covered the subject in the narrowest way. And even if he’s gay himself, it’s no guarantee that he doesn’t think of gayness as some sort of abnormality. At a V.D. clinic, the only thing he’s expert at is treating V.D. – he’s probably lousy at human relations.

And although a gay man probably has more guilt and prejudice to contend with when seeking treatment for V.D., he mustn’t let that deter him. It is important to have regular blood tests, it is important to be tested the moment you think you might have caught V.D. I gather that women are not usually asked, or don’t say, whether they contracted the disease heterosexually or homosexually, so their gayness doesn’t necessarily affect the doctor’s attitude (which can be unpleasant enough anyway).

V.D, with the exception of the new and fortunately still rare strains like ‘Hanoi Rose’, is no great horror if it is diagnosed and treated promptly

The Homosexual and Venereal Disease by a Consultant in VD at a large London clinic

01-197205XX 7There seems to be no doubt that the two main reservoirs of venereal disease in this country at present are the promiscuous female and the promiscuous ‘passive’ homosexual male, neither of whom necessarily exhibits any symptom or sign of the disease. At one time homosexual patients used to express surprise that they could have been infected with venereal disease by contacts with their own sex, but now nearly all of them rightly seem to realise that they are just as likely to contract it homo sexually as heterosexually.

It is difficult to be sure that there is now a higher incidence of venereal disease amongst homosexuals than there used to be, because before the 1939-45 war patients were much more reticent about admitting any form of sex contact; but during a year’s work in a VD clinic in those days can only remember treating three or four patients who admitted having had homosexual contact, whereas in the same clinic during the last ten or fifteen years I have been treating that number or more each week.

Before the war, even heterosexual males were shy about admitting their sexual activities, and at first often blamed their trouble on accidental infection from a lavatory seat or some such source, only giving the true history when they had gained the doctor’s confidence. Nowadays, heterosexual patients almost always admit to sexual intercourse at once, and similarly in recent years homosexuals have been more inclined to give an immediate true history to an understanding and sympathetic physician, but even now some of them are, not unnaturally, cautious at first.

For all practical purposes there are three common venereal diseases in this country, and they affect both homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. They are syphilis, gonorrhoea, and non-gonnococcal urethritis. Syphilis is caused by a minute parasitic organism called a spirochete, which enters through a very small abrasion in the ano-genital region and very rapidly, in a matter of hours, spreads throughout the whole body. This disease can be passed to another person by the semen, the saliva, or by contact with a syphilitic sore. The first sign is a papule or raised red spot appearing at the site of contact nine to ninety days afterwards and rapidly becoming a comparatively painless sore or ulcer. In the male homosexual this is usually on the penis or anus, and is often accompanied by an enlarged gland in the groin. This sore, which is called the ‘primary sore’ or chancre, is usually obvious when on the penis, but if it is an anal sore it may be inside the anal passage, when it may not be noticed or is perhaps mistaken for a pile or fissure.

After about two or three months the infected patient, if untreated, develops a generalised and usually non-irritating rash, more or less painless ulceration of the mouth and ano-genital region, and enlarged lymphatic glands. This ‘secondary’ stage lasts several months, the external signs eventually clearing up without treatment, but the spirochetes continue to attack the body internally and after many years serious and irreversible damage to the arterial and nervous system will occur. Proper treatment with Penicillin or similar drugs in the primary and secondary stages will eliminate the disease entirely and prevent permanent damage.

The diagnosis of the disease is usually made by finding the spirochetes (i.e. causal germs) in the sore, or by a positive blood test which develops about six weeks after infection. The infected person is dangerous to others from the moment he is infected. Thus a promiscuous person may spread the infection to many others during the incubation period before any signs of disease appear in him.

It was my experience since the war years that syphilis has been more common among homosexuals than heterosexuals, and now probably more than half the cases treated are found to have contracted the disease homosexually. There seems to be no clear season for this. Promiscuity itself is not the only cause, because both groups of people seem to be equal in this respect. A promiscuous passive homosexual would be well advised to have regular blood tests for syphilis every few months, in case of hidden infection.

Gonorrhoea is a disease of the mucous membrane lining the penile urethra (water pipe) or the rectum and is caused by a germ which usually infects the genital regions only. In the homosexual, urethral gonorrhoea almost always follows contact of the penis with the ano-genital region of an infected male. and appears two or three days or even weeks afterwards in the form of a greenish-yellow discharge. If untreated. this discharge will persist for months and lead to such complications as painful swollen testicles and severe arthritis. If treated in the early stages it can be cured completely and will leave no after-effect. Gonorrhoea of the rectum in the male can follow any peno-anal contact (not necessarily penetration) and may show itself by a discharge from the anus, irritation and soreness, but these symptoms may be so slight that it is not suspected until a subsequent sexual partner complains of having been infected. The rectal infection usually requires more treatment than the urethral, but responds equally well in the end (sic.).

Non-gonococcal urethritis may be described as a milder condition resembling gonorrhoea, but in which the causal germ is unknown. It responds more slowly to treatment and tends to relapse. It is seldom as severe as gonorrhoea, but by its persistence it has great nuisance value.

It is very uncommon for any of these diseases to be contracted accidentally. They almost always follow sexual contact and usually, in the homosexual, contact between the penis and anus. Syphilis and gonorrhoea occasionally follow oral contact, but men and women are seldom infected when mutual masturbation only has taken place. Of course, persons infected with venereal disease, whether they have acquired it homosexually or heterosexually, are in danger of infecting their sexual partners of either sex.

A person suspecting any of these diseases should consult his doctor at once, and will probably be referred for examination and treatment to a VD clinic or to a private specialist. If he does not wish to consult his general practitioner, he can go directly to a clinic or private specialist without introduction. Most venereologists nowadays are used to treating homosexuals, though some accept them less readily than others.

Patients of a VD clinic or private specialist can be confident that their cases will be dealt with in the strictest secrecy, and that information about them will under no circumstances be divulged to the police or anyone else. It is a National Health Service Regulation that “any information with respect to persons examined or treated for venereal diseases in a hospital shall be treated as confidential”.

It is in the interest of all homosexuals and heterosexuals to seek medical advice at once if they suspect that they may be infected, because venereal disease can be cured easily in the early stages, but little can be done about the much more serious later effects. A more tolerant attitude by the public to private homosexual acts between adults would be a great step towards the eradication of venereal disease from the whole community, since it would undoubtedly encourage more carriers of the disease to come forward for treatment.


Gay News does not necessarily agree with the moral attitudes evident in the above, but the medical advice seems sound. In future issues we will be printing our reactions to the treatments (medical and moral) that we received on visiting various VD clinics around the British Isles. Also in the next issue we will have the reactions of another doctor to the article here. AND we would like to near about your experiences whilst seeking treatment at a VD clinicso write and tell us about it.