Here We Are Again

During its short existence, Gay News has come across many barriers — barriers of intolerance, ignorance and blind prejudice. It’s likely that many of you reading this have too. Hardly surprising, when one considers the amount of real information about homosexuals available to the average member of the public.

We cannot expect all to be well though until gayness is openly and freely discussed by the media (ie newspapers, television, etc), in schools and colleges, and anywhere else where knowledge and factual information should be available. All too often, the media, the medical profession, the church and all the rest, rely on age-old myths and suspect conclusions for their facts.

Subsequently it’s no wonder that the general public continues to be so much in the dark about the subject of homosexuality. Those of you who have come out to any degree will probably remember the shock and amazement of friends and relatives, when they discovered that someone they actually knew and/or loved, was one. Adding to the impact of your revelation was no doubt the confusion in their minds when they realised that the queer in their midst was completely unlike the stereo-typed caricature of a human being they had always expected a homosexual to be.

One of the reasons Gay News came into existence was so there would be an impartial mouth piece for the gay community, that would not only be accepted by the people it was named after, but hopefully to be also read by those who might decide it was time to enlighten themselves a little about one of the largest minorities in this country.

But even the best of ideals and intentions did not help us to easily overcome the social barriers of intolerance and the type of aggressive, unthinking prejudice known only too well by Oscar Wilde, or the man who recently went to prison for six months because of a furtive feel in a park with another consenting adult.

We at GN had to struggle and fight back, for we had a newspaper to regularly produce and after an initial period of suspicion etc, we found that people began to think a little more about their preconceived attitudes. Within a short time the many non-gay people we had to deal with started treating us exactly the same as anybody else.

That, unfortunately, was only part of the battle. W H Smith’s provided a means of ensuring that our early readership would be small, by imposing their hypocritical and old-fashioned moral standards on a newspaper that came into being in an age when men walked on the moon, doctors performed complex transplant operations and the whole world could possibly be destroyed by the pushing of a single button. They effectively blocked our chances of reaching a wide audience by refusing the handle any part of our distribution. This form of censorship is something that dear old Private Eye has been waffling about, in exaggerated accents, for some time.

We had no alternative but to set up our own distribution network, and while it is still somewhat limited, it is at least allowing us to reach five times as many people as we did with the first issue of Gay News.

The police have attempted to interfere with the news reporting of GN. Their action over one of our reporters taking photographs demonstrated the general maliciousness shown towards homosexuals. Our photographer was arrested and charged with obstruction, whilst he was trying to gather evidence about alleged police harrassment. This minor example of their hostile attitudes proved to be the first of many such incidents. Luckily for us, we now have the support of a number of people in the legal profession, as well as that of friendly Members of Parliament, who will come to our aid whenever we need them.

Another barrier set up to limit the potential and usefulness of Gay News was the almost total press silence about the paper. We didn’t kid ourselves that The Daily Telegraph, for instance, would run a two-page feature on us, but we did expect the supposedly free and impartial press to realise the significance of our publication. But hardly a word has appeared. Also, paid advertisements of ours have been refused by other newspapers and even ads quoting the opinions of Gay News have been declined, as we have reported in an earlier edition.

What the last few hundred words have been leading up to is that whilst the press and the majority of those working for it (and its supposed freedom) have frequently, if not totally, refused to report or comment on our existence, there have been a few brave and aware journalists who have not been afraid to do so. Many of them going beyond just that and advocating an end to the discrimination and intolerance usually displayed towards gay men and women.

One enlightened journalist is Alan Brien, who writes the Alan Brien’s Diary in the Sunday Times. Alan is not gay, or wasn’t the last time we met him, but he is aware of the present position of homosexuals in society and the many injustices they have to suffer. (To any reader thinking that he or she has never suffered as a result of being gay, we believe that it wouldn’t be difficult for you to find someone who has.)

From Alan’s column on Sunday 21 January, we reprint the following. We do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, to demonstrate that we are not alone in our struggle for social and legal equality.

Secondly, to show any heterosexual reader that it isn’t just gays who shout about discrimination etc. Thirdly, because we believe that it will give hope and encouragement to many gays who think that those demanding equality are fighting a losing battle. Fourthly, to prick the consciences of the many homosexuals who are journalists. And lastly, to express our thanks to Alan Brien, who has shown that he has the guts to express his convictions and opinions despite the social taboos and stigmas attached to the sexuality known to us as gay ness.

‘Wednesday: I thought Andy Warhol’s Trash was one of the best films I saw last year. But I thought most of his paintings and imitations of paintings were trashy, though they received glowing reviews from the posh critics. It is partly because of ambiguity in his achievement, the poppy-Cocteau effect of the charlatan genius, that I looked forward to seeing David Bailey’s portrait of him last night.

‘What disturbed me even more than the ban (I am certain we will see David Bailey’s programme eventually, probably mid-afternoon next Boxing Day, without a single protest being lodged) was the use of language describing it. I am accustomed to Lord Longford’s pottiness on pornography, But for the prisoner’s friend, the outlaw’s inlaw, who asks for Christian charity for murderers and torturers to object that here was a film which he understood, contained “reference to or sight of homosexuals and such like” is really shocking. And on the BBC Night Extra, the interviewer of Ross McWhirter lumped in “lesbians” with “obscenities” as if both would be equally likely to “offend against good taste or decency.”

‘Can people who use such terms of automatic abuse have ever knowingly seen a lesbian? Do they imagine she has hair on her chest, a brand on her forehead, and her knickers in her hand? Some of the best lesbians are my friends, and as pretty and feminine a lot of girls you wouldn’t expect to see in the Miss World contest. How can these objectors be sure they are not married to lesbians, or parents to them?

‘Once it was Communists whose appearance on our screen was banned because the sight would be so horrible that nice people would not want to invite them, even electronically, into their homes. But when Jimmy Reid actually appeared, without horns and a tail, he became a telly star overnight. If this is an example of Christian concern for the dignity of all God’s children, then I think I’ll apply for an injunction against Stars on Sunday.

‘Thursday: Access (the principle not the card) is one of the rights Mr Heath promised the public. TV has gone some ways so far to pussyfoot across this dangerous ground by permitting pre-selected outsiders to voice their opinions via the phone-in, or to appear in equally hand-picked groups and shout each other down in front of the cameras.

‘But a much more important restriction on the expression of unpopular views can be found in the newspaper business. Many papers refuse, even when paid for each line, to mention underground or dissenting publications. Gay News, the homosexual fortnightly, and Lunch, the Campaign For Homosexual Equality monthly, both find their ads refused. Are editors who pride themselves on the freedom of the Press aware of this?’

Tiptoe Through The Filing Cabinets

To change the subject completely, we have yet another appeal to make. Recently we acquired our first filing cabinet, but within a week possessing it, we find that it is inadequate to cope with our immediate requirements. And as the buying of office equipment is an event that rarely happens, owing to our limited budget, we appeal to anyone with one that is in good working order and is serving no useful purpose, to transfer it to the GN office. Incidentally, at the time of writing, we still have been unable to discover suitable premises to replace our present tiny office. So if you know of anything that is just waiting to be occupied by us, that has at least two rooms and is in Central London, please contact us immediately.

Next Issue

Gay News No 17 will be published and available from February 21. Till then, we hope this issue proves to be interesting, informative, entertaining and, dare we hope, controversial.

Gay News Editorial Collective

Late News From The Here We Are Again Dept.

Just in case it has escaped your notice, the egg on the front cover has now finally been scrambled. The logo that saw Gay News from issue one to issue 15 has gone to make room for more picture space on the front of the paper. Egg-lovers will be delighted to know that Gay News can supply back-dates of the paper, complete with the old logo. Just write and send us the cash.

And, whilst we’ll go on without egg on our face, the familiar Gay News lettering logo will stay the same. We hope you think it’s an improvement.

Here We Are Again

The occasional difficulty we have with the Here We Are Again column is how to begin it. There’s always lots of things to tell you about though, if you’re interested in how your paper is getting along. If there are ever any aspects of the paper you particularly would like to know about and see in print and we don’t cover here, all you have to do is drop us a line, addressing it to Here We Are Again. By the way, the problem getting into this piece seems to have been overcome.

Letters

Mentioned in the previous paragraph is a line about writing to us if there’s anything you want to find out about. Whilst on the subject of letters, we at GN have noticed that there has been a general falling off in the amount of correspondence you have been sending us for publication. Maybe the Christmas period had something to do with it. Remember though, the success of the letter page depends entirely on you, our readers. So if you have any comments, criticisms, complaints, information or whatever, you think should appear, don’t hesitate to write to us, stating of course if the letter is for publication or not.

W. H. Smith & Sons

The other Wednesday on BBC 2’s late-night Edition programme, a representative of W. H. Smith & Sons, the well known monopoly newsagents, distributors and moral censors, was defending the companies actions of restricting the amount of papers, magazines and books they allow the public to read. The Smith’s spokesman wriggled and avoided most of the questions put to him quite well and left viewers with no doubt as to why they don’t stock certain publications etc. The reasons obviously being that this firm have set themselves up as censors, thus deciding the amount of information, entertainment and awareness they think the British public should be able to get its hands on. Another gentleman on the programme, who squirmed delightfully and passively to the tune of Big Brother W. H. Smiths, ended the discussion with a most historically ludicrous comment — straight out of the Dark Ages – for he remarked that people in the provinces did not want or require the papers, magazines, et al that Smith’s won’t handle. What absolute rubbish. As Colin Wilson said in his recent book Order Of Assassins, ‘creative evolution’ is a must for a progressing and expanding society, and what better way is there of helping people to evolve and reach new levels of awareness than by supplying them with all available information and telling them of new ideas and theories that are currently being developed.

No News, Maybe?

Whilst a large number of our readers, and organisations, send us details and news of what is happening in their areas, there are far too many cities, towns and counties that we never receive anything from. Possibly the reason for this is that they have not yet heard of Gay News, or have been unable to get hold of copies (thanks to well known distributors who will remain anonymous). But this doesn’t explain away all the places where apparently nothing every happens. So come on people, let’s hear what’s going on in your part of the country, if you are not already keeping us informed. We are a newspaper, aren’t we? Please help us keep on being so.

Just so you don’t have to do all the work yourselves, Gay News is taking advantage of the news clippping services of Romeike & Curtice. But even they won’t be able to clear away all the gaps that appear in our news and information coverage. The rest is up to you.

Still Only 10p

Many of you when buying GN directly from a Gay News collective member remark, “Still the same price?” Cheerfully we allways chirp back, “Of course”. In this day and age, prices do not often stay static for very long, but we consider 10p to be a fair and reasonable price for GN and try and keep it the same for as long as we are able. That should be for some time we hope, even though we are intending to increase the number of pages in the not too distant future.

Personal Ads

As we said on the cover of GN14, that edition contained more personal ads than we have ever printed before. We take it to mean that you are finding the ads to be useful and judging by the amount of box number replies we send off, the ads are certainly being seen by more people than ever before. That’s great with us, but please don’t forget, if you have to be too explicit in your wording of an ad, we unfortunately will have to tone it down. The vast majority of ads are perfectly acceptable, so to the few people who can’t save certain things until answering the letters of those who reply to their ads, please don’t get too annoyed with us. As we see it, it’s better to have — for the time being at any rate – a slightly inexcessive personal ads service than to invite prosecution, which could well result in there being no paper at all.

Our ‘Gay’ Printers

F.I. Litho, our beloved printers, seem to be becoming the largest producers of gay publications. And good luck to them, they try their best for us. Originally they just printed Lunch*, then along came Gay News, and now Jeffrey* has joined the flock. We’re sure downtown Pentonville Road has never been so ‘gay’.

Legal Advisers

Whilst we are not allowed to mention them by name, it is against some sort of professional regulation, we would like to take this opportunity to thank our solicitors. The legal advice they give us is extremely helpful – many times giving us their time and ideas without us having to ask. And they always find time to listen to, and advise on, anything that is worrying us, no matter how trivial. Thanks a lot, we appreciate it.

Changes

In the next few issues of Gay News, we are planning to change and improve the basic design of the paper. We’ll let you know more about these alterations when we finalise our plans.

New Offices

Although there is a strong possibility that we will be moving to larger premises soon, until things are definitely fixed, please let us know of any offices you may know or hear about in Central London. We really have outgrown our present ‘home’ and are beginning to get a little desperate.

As usual, hope you find this issue up to our usual standard. Thanks for supporting us by buying it. Gay News No 16 will be published on and available from 7th February. See you then.

* Lunch is a monthly magazine, featuring articles, comment and interviews. It is associated with the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, although having strong independent editorial policies. Price 20p.

* Jeffrey is a commercial gay men’s entertainment magazine and is also published monthly. Price 25p.