The Women-Identified Women

What is a lesbian? A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. She is the woman who, often beginning at an extremely early age, acts in accordance with her inner compulsion to be a more complete and freer human being than her society — perhaps then, but certainly later — cares to allow her. These needs and actions, over a period of years, bring her into painful conflict with people, situations, the accepted ways of war with everything around her, and usually with her self. She may not be fully conscious of the political implications of what for her began as personal necessity, but on some level she has not been able to accept the limitations and oppression laid on her by the most basic role of her society — the female role. The turmoil she experiences tends to induce guilt proportional to the degree to which she feels she is not meeting social expectations, and/or eventually drives her to question and analyse what the rest of her society more or less accepts. She is forced to evolve her own life pattern, often living much of her life alone, learning usually much earlier than her “straight” (heterosexual) sisters about the essential aloneness of life (which the myth of marriage obscures) and about the reality of illusions. To the extent that she cannot expel the heavy socialisation that goes with being female, she can never truly find peace with herself. For she is caught somewhere between accepting society’s view of her — in which case she cannot accept herself, and coming to understand what this sexist society has done to her and why it is functional and necessary for it to do so. Those of us who work that through find ourselves on the other side of a tortuous journey through a night that may have been decades long. The perspective gained from that journey, the liberation of self, the inner peace, the real love of self and of all women, is something to be shared with all women — because we are all women.

It should be first understood that lesbianism, like male homosexuality, is a category of behaviour possible only in a sexist society characterised by rigid sex roles and dominated by male supremacy. Those sex roles dehumanise women by defining us as a supportive/serving caste in relation to the master caste of men, and/emotionally cripple men by demanding that they be alienated from their own bodies and emotions in order to perform their economic/political/military functions effectively. Homosexuality is a byproduct of a particular way of setting up roles (or approved patterns of behaviour) on the basis of sex; as such it is an inauthentic (not consonant with “reality”) category. In a society in which men do not oppress women, and sexual expression is allowed to follow feelings, the categories of homosexuality and heterosexuality would disappear.

But lesbianism is also different from male homosexuality, and serves a different function in the society. “Dyke” is a different kind of put-down from “faggot,” although both imply you are not playing your socially assigned sex role… are therefore not a “real woman” or a “real man”. The grudging admiration felt for the tomboy, and the queasiness felt around a sissy boy point to the same thing: the contempt in which women – or those who play a female role -are held. And the investment in keeping women in the contemptuous role is very great. Lesbian is the word, the label, the condition that holds women in line. When a woman hears this word tossed her way, she knows she is stepping out of line. She knows that she has crossed the terrible boundary of her sex role. She recoils, she reshapes her actions to gain approval. Lesbian is a label invested by the Man to throw at any woman who dares to be his equal, who dares to challenge his prerogatives (including that of all women as part of the exchange medium among men), who dares to assert the primacy of her own needs. To have the label applied to people active in women’s liberation is just the most recent instance of a long history; older women will recall that not so long ago, any woman who was successful, independent, not orientating her whole life about a man, would hear this word. For in this sexist society, for a woman to be independent means she can’t be a woman – she must be a dyke. That in itself should tell us where women are at. It says as clearly as can be said: women and person are contradictory terms. For a lesbian is not considered a “real woman”. And yet, in popular thinking, there is really only one essential difference between a lesbian and other women; that of sexual orientation – which is to say, when you strip off all the packaging, you must finally realise that the essence of being a “woman” is to get fucked by men.

“Lesbian” is one of the sexual categories by which men have divided up humanity. While all women are dehumanised as sex objects, as the objects of men they are given certain compensations: identification with his power, his ego, his status, his protection (from other males), feeling like a “real woman”, finding social acceptance by adhering to her role, etc. Should a woman confront herself by confronting another woman, there are fewer rationalisations, fewer buffers by which to avoid the stark horror of her dehumanised condition. Herein we find the overriding fear of many women towards exploring intimate relationships with other women; the fear of being used as a sexual object by a woman, which not only will bring her no male-connected compensations, but also will reveal the void which is woman’s real situation. This dehumanisation is expressed when a straight woman learns that a sister is a lesbian; she begins to relate to her lesbian sister as her potential sex object, laying a surrogate male role on the lesbian. This reveals her heterosexual conditioning to make herself into an object when sex is potentially involved in a relationship, and it denies the lesbian her full humanity. For women, especially those in the movement, to perceive their lesbian sisters through this male grid of role definitions is to accept this male cultural conditioning and to oppress their sisters much as they themselves have been oppressed by men. Are we going to continue the male classification system of defining all females in sexual relation to some other category of people? Affixing the label lesbian not only to a woman who aspires to be a person, but also to any situation of real love, real solidarity, real primacy among women is a primary form of divisiveness among women: it is the condition which keeps women within the confines of the feminine role, and it is the debunking/scare term that keeps women from forming any primary attachments, groups, or associations among ourselves.

Women in the movement have in most cases gone to great lengths to avoid discussion and confrontation with the issue of lesbianism. It puts people up-tight. They are hostile, evasive, or try to incorporate it into some “broader issue”. They would rather not talk about it. If they have to, they try to dismiss it as a “lavender herring”. But it is no side issue. It is absolutely essential to the success and fulfilment of the women’s liberation movement that this issue be dealt with. As long as the label “dyke” can be used to frighten women into a less militant stand, keep her separate from her sisters, keep her from giving primacy to anything other than men and family – then to that extent she is controlled by the male culture. Until women see in each other the possibility of a primal commitment which includes sexual love, they will be denying themselves the love and value they readily accord to men, thus affirming their second-class status. As long as male acceptability is primary – both to individual women and to the movement as a whole – the term lesbian will be used effectively against women. Insofar as women want only more privileges within the system, they do not want to antagonise male power. They instead seek acceptability for women’s liberation, and the most crucial aspect of the acceptability is to deny lesbianism – ie deny any fundamental challenge to the basis of the female role.

It should be said that some younger, more radical women have honestly begun to discuss lesbianism, but so far it has been primarily used as a sexual “alternative” to men. This, however, is still giving primacy to men, both because the idea of relating more completely to women occurs as a negative reaction to men, and because the lesbian relationship is being characterised simply by sex which is divisive and sexist. On one level, which is both personal and political, women may withdraw emotional and sexual energies from men, and work out various alternatives for those energies in their own lives. On a different political/psychological level, it must be understood that what is crucial is that women begin disengaging from male-defined response patterns. In the privacy of our own psyches, we must cut those cords to the core. For irrespective of where our Jove and sexual energies flow, if we are male-identified in our heads, we cannot realise our autonomy as human beings.

But why is it that women have related to and through men? By virtue of having been brought up in a male society, we have internalised the male culture’s definition of ourselves. That definition views us as relative beings who exist not for ourselves, but for the servicing, maintenance and comfort of men. That definition consigns us to sexual and family functions, and excludes us from defining and shaping the terms of our lives.

In exchange for our psychic servicing and for performing society’s non-profit-making functions, the man confers on us just one thing: the slave status which makes us legitimate in the eyes of the society in which we live. This is called “femininity” or “being a real woman” in our cultural lingo. We are authentic, legitimate, real to the extent that we are the property of some man whose name we bear. To be a woman who belongs to no man is to be invisible, pathetic, unauthentic, unreal. He confirms his image of us – of what we have to be in order to be acceptable by him – but not our real selves; he confirms our womanhood – as he defines it, in relation to him – but cannot confirm our personhood, our own selves as absolutes. As long as we are dependent on the male culture for this definition, for this approval, we cannot be free.

The consequence of internalising this role is an enormous reservoir of self-hate. This is not to say the self-hate is recognised or accepted as such; indeed most women would deny it. It may be experienced as discomfort with her role, as feeling empty, as numbness, as restlessness, a paralysing anxiety at the centre. Alternatively, it may be expressed in shrill defensiveness of the glory and destiny of her role. But it does exist, often beneath the edge of her consciousness, poisoning her existence, keeping her alienated from herself, her own needs, and rendering her a stranger to other women. Women hate both themselves and other women. They try to escape by identifying with the oppressor, living through him, gaining status and identity from his ego, his accomplishments. And by not identifying with other “empty vessels” like themselves, women resist relating on all levels to other women who will reflect their own oppression, their own secondary status, their own self-hate. For to confront another woman is finally to confront one’s self the self we have gone to such lengths to avoid. And in that mirror we know we cannot really respect and love that which we have been made to be.

As the source of self-hate and the lack of real self are rooted in our male-given identity, we must create a new sense of self. As long as we cling to the idea of “being a woman”, we will sense some conflict with that incipient self, that sense of I, that sense of a whole person. It is very difficult to realise and accept that being “feminine” and being a whole person are irreconcilable. Only women can give each other a new sense of self. That identity we have to develop with reference to ourselves, and not in relation to men.

This consciousness is the revolutionary force from which all else will follow, for ours is an organic revolution. For this we must be available and supportive to one another, give our commitment and our love, give the emotional support necessary to sustain this movement. Our energies must flow toward our sisters, not backwards towards our oppressors. As long as women’s liberation tries to free women without facing the basic heterosexual structure that binds us in one-to-one relationship with our own oppressors, tremendous energies will continue to flow into trying to straighten up each particular relationship with a man, how to get better sex, how to turn his head around – into trying to make the “new man” out of him, in the delusion that this will allow us to be the “new woman”. This obviously splits our energies and commitments, leaving us unable to be committed to the construction of the new patterns which will liberate us.

It is the primacy of women relating to women, of women creating a new consciousness of and with each other which is at the heart of women’s liberation, and the basis for the cultural revolution. Together we must find, reinforce and validate our authentic selves. As we do this, we confirm in each other that struggling incipient sense of pride and strength, the divisive barriers begin to melt, we feel this growing solidarity with our sisters. We see ourselves as prime, find our centres inside of ourselves. We find receding the sense of alienation, of being cut off, of being behind a locked window, of being unable to get out what we know is inside.

We feel a real-ness, feel at last we are coinciding with ourselves. With that real self, with that consciousness, we begin a revolution to end the imposition of all coercive identifications, and to achieve maximum autonomy in human expression.

Ed: This article was written by a collective of women in New York, and has been reprinted in several journals, including Come Out and The Radical Therapist. Gay News reprints it from Vector, which is the publication of the Society for Individual Rights. They are based in San Fransisco. To them we send love and thanks, and wish them much success in 1973.

Your Letters

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

Save Your Eyesight

London W11

Dear Gay News,

Well, I’ve finally got the money together to put another personal ad in Gay News – Well, I’ve just got to meet some friends somehow. The loneliness can make you go blind, I tell you)

I would just like to say how much I agree with you over your conclusions in “Standing In The Shadows”, while we are bitching with each other… discussing Marx instead of the heartache and fear of thinking you’re different from absolutely everyone else, there will be an unlit gas ring hissing somewhere tonight. I think Gay News should repeat that statement every now and again (perhaps as a headline over an editorial or subscription page).

I did not, however, quite follow your bitch against ‘tall slim, longhaired, passive, warm and generous — always generous’ unless you were getting at ‘sex with beautiful bodies’ as opposed to meaningful relationships.

I was also pleased to see the ideas expressed in ‘Who’s Kidding Who?’ in print and put so fully and coherently. I only hope that Miss LaRue reads them. (Incidentally, the same comments apply equally to a ghastly TV (sic) spectacular that Tim Brooke-Taylor did last year with Cliff Richard).

And — to end this letter, or ‘hymn to David Seligman’ — I’d just like to add that his comments about the cinema in “Criticism of Criticism of Criticism” are right on too!

Rick Vaughan

Tawdry, Passé and Uncritical

London NW1

Dear Collective,

Sorry but I must agree with Daniel James (GN14). Gay News does appear tawdry, passé and uncritical in terms of content. What is particularly unfortunate is that what once might have been a policy of being non-aligned has been shown to become one of middle-ground politics which is inevitably male biased. By all means have all points of view represented so that issues of bisexuality, Womens Liberation and Radical Feminism and the political left generally are also given coverage in your paper.

This is important because the demand for equality is in essence a revolutionary demand. Equality for gays cannot be achieved within the present social format. True equality (and freedom to cottage and make it with 16 year olds is not that) means the abandonment of the nuclear family and the whole ethos of male dominance and sex-role playing as integral social norms. In turn, none of these things can be achieved without the destruction of the economic system which relies on and fosters them.

You report that Angie Weir is now “more convinced of a proper Marxist understanding of the situation” but we are not told what that is. Fortunately we don’t all have to go through Angie’s experience to come to a similar understanding. Individual liberation has to be related to the wider political fight for Socialism (not one of the perverted beaurocratic versions thereof which are the product of a male supremacist movement that did not adequately link the elimination of sexism with the ending of capitalism) where individual actions and hopes can be brought together in the creation of a better society for all oppressed people. Homosexuality only exists as. a negative label now because it is necessarily deviant within a social construct based on role division at social and economic, at all levels. Gay Liberation means the ending of sex-class divisions which has to be connected with the elimination of economic-class structures. The liberal-reformist alternative is the aping of warped, stereotyped relationships of heterosexual “normality”.

As far as GN is concerned I am making a plea for you to see your ‘open house’ editorial policy as encompassing the Socialist left in general and bi and gay radicals in particular. For a start, please try and get an article by Angie Weir — wouldn’t that be the first feature article by a woman as well as the first putting gay oppression into a fundamental political perspective? – and one by one of the socialist organisations like L.P.Y.S, or IMG on how it views the liberation from sex-roles generally, and of gays especially, which would also serve to add to the demands for making an analysis of sexism a more critical part of their programme.

Ray

An End To Isolation

6, The Lawns,
Mount Pleasant,
St Albans, Herts.

Dear Gay News.

I am writing to you because David Seligman’s article, “Standing in the Shadows” (GN15) seems to me to be both sensible and civilised.

There are a great many homosexuals living in the provinces and the country, to whom the gay world, as expressed by London, is neither desirable nor understandable. What your kind article showed was that there are still many homosexuals living in an unnecessary isolation.

I would like to see a series of organisations, without political message or dogma, existing in the provinces to bring together all homosexuals, regardless of age, size, colour or creed. So that in any town there would be no need for any man to remain alone and lonely. It would then be possible for a man to move from area to area in the sure knowledge that he would be able to talk to, and to meet with, those persons who are best able to help and befriend him: namely his fellow homosexuals.

I am not distressed about the young foe they are able to look after their own interests; often with devastating ruthlessness — but I am distressed about the older homosexual. I think that it would be beneficial were we all to remember that we are not immortal, and that an older manls behaviour is not that behaviour which is wholly strange to ourselves: that it is, in fact, a preview of our own middle and old age.

I ask that you should place this letter in your columns, not because it has merit, but because I wish to ask all homosexuals in St Albans and surrounding areas, to write to me so that we can arrange to meet: all of us with each other. I hope that people will write, and that we can meet regularly. I do not expect that we shall all like each other; similarity of sex does not necessitate affection. But I do expect that we should try to form an organisation so that there should need to be no lonely homosexual in St Albans. If we are to be civilised then we must care for each other: and care, not because we are beautiful, witty, erudite, or anything exceptional; but because we are all homosexuals.

Once again, may I thank you for an extraordinary article. It was humane informed and sincere.

David Richardson

A Continuing Problem

Oxford

Dear Gay News,

I scanned Gay News 15 from cover to cover, looking for some hint that this might be a paper for gay women as well as gay men. The clues were very few; even your Gay Lexicon didn’t contain one word of lesbian derivation!

Granted, this could well be our faults, there are fewer of us — and who knows – perhaps we do less! But don’t you think you are making it harder for lesbians who have not yet “come out”, by tacitly ignoring their existence?

Perhaps it is time you jogged your female colleagues on the editorial collective… but whoops! There are no women on the EC — just Glenys Parry up in Manchester. No wonder we’ve got problems!

I’d like to suggest that all women who read Gay News could make some literary contribution to it, an account, a letter, even a small ad! I’m sure it would enrich the paper, and encourage other women to identify with it.

Congratulations to the Gay News staff who are bearing up so nobly despite our absence.

Diana

ED: Write on Diana.

Problem Column

Abingdon, Berks

Dear Gay News,

I am yet one more of your ardent devotees, only too glad to be kept up to date efficiently and cheaply, especially living in such isolation from the gay metropolis! May I mention an idea which you probably thought of long ago and rejected?

How about a “Dear Auntie” problem column? If you have considered this, why have you not bothered with it? Surely, for homosexuals, this sort of service must be needed even more than for heterosexuals who can go to any number of people and agencies for help.

I would be willing to help answering, though you would probably have better qualified contacts. Whatever the practical problems, I am sure it is worth considering, as both valuable and probably amusing as well.

Chris Rose

ED: We welcome the idea of a ‘problem column’. In the early issues of GN we attempted to get one going, but the response was fairly negative. If any readers or organisations can help, please get in touch.

Gay Life In Hull

Hull

Dear Gay News,

As a recently arrived young assistant lecturer on the staff of the University of Hull, I was horrified to find that the university has no active gay group, either CHE or GLF. The sexual liberation society, which functioned up until the last academic year is no longer active. Neither is there a CHE or GLF in the city – with a population of some 300,000.

If any staff, students or people in Hull are interested in setting up a group for social activities, or political activities (if the latter is something people want to participate in) would they contact me, at 133 Park Avenue, Hull, or telephone Hull 403553. and we could make a start in reviving a gay life in Hull.

Howard Johnson

Not So Simple

London NW6

Dear Collective,

I always thought that if I saw someone (of my own sex) I fancied, I could approach him, chat him up, and ask him back: he could either agree or refuse and that was that! I was astounded to read in “Still At It” (GN15) that this is in fact illegal!!

Not only is this law ridiculous, it is positively criminal!!

E R

ED: This letter is referring to the continued use of agent provocateur methods by the Chelsea police in the vicinity of The Coleherne, Earl’s Court.

We’re Waiting Mr James

London SW12

Dear Gay News,

I am surprised that Daniel James (GN14) chose to write to you in the way he did. You are no doubt producing the best you can with your limited materials and resources, and have little need for non-constructive criticism.

I look forward to seeing a well-written professional article from Mr James in one of your future issues.

Ian Clark

Letters continued on page 10.

Come Togethers

MANCHESTER: On Saturday January 27, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality is holding the first national meeting for gay and bisexual women.

Liz Stanley who’s been involved in the meeting’s organisation told Gay News: “Any woman is welcome to the meeting.”

After a general discussion about involving more women in CHE, people will split up into discussion groups.

These discussion groups will talk about subjects including the problems of married gay and bisexual women, and the children of gay parents; coming to terms with one’s homosexuality, relating to each other and to gay men as well as to heterosexual people; where gay women can go for help – and the specific problems of the help organisations; women’s liberation; radicial feminism and its relationship to the gay women’s struggle; the problems of isolated gay women in provincial towns.

After that they’ll get together again to discuss “Women In CHE – Where We Go From Here”.

After the conference there will be a mixed disco – although the conference itself is for women only.


LONDON: The Havelock Ellis Society will have its second annual lecture at the Royal Overseas League, London SW1 on Friday February 2.

This year’s subject is Sex Research and Social Changes. The lecturer will be Professor John Gagnon, professor of sociology at New York State University.

ED: Details of the women’s conference from Liz at CHE, Manchester – the address is on the back of the paper. More on the Havelock Ellis lecture from Edgar Wright, 121 Broadhurst Gardens, London NW3 3BJ.


LEEDS: A National Gay Liberation “THINK-IN” is to be held in Leeds over the weekend February 17th-18th. The hosts are Gay Lib Leeds and the venue: Leeds University Union.

All Gay Lib groups will be invited and any interested individuals are encouraged to come along.

This will be an important meeting for GLF in this country: at a stage of revolutionary change within the national group and the widely diverse regional groups.

On the Friday night groups will be expected to arrive.

A disco/party will be held. The first Get-together will be held on the Saturday at 10pm. The ‘think-in’ will last all day. A Grand Dance will be held on the Saturday night. A policy meeting and round-up of discussions will take place on the Sunday afternoon.

More news will be released as they get-it-together.

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

Editorial

Hi, here we are again with Issue No. 9. This time slightly more on time than No. 8 which was held up for reasons beyond our control. Even beyond the printer’s control, or so he tells us. We apologise to any people who received their copies of the last edition a few days late. Our printer has been duly told off but we suppose even he cannot control exploding machinery and snapping wires. Seriously though, it was just one of those things. At least we haven’t had a strike yet!

No doubt some of you will think we are blowing our own trumpets, but we were rather pleased with GN8. The worth of the content was up to you to judge and pass comment on, but as far as design and presentation went, all credit to our designer and his assistants. And we hope to improve even more, for as we see things, no one can ever stop improving and trying just that little bit harder.

GN8 was ‘16 sexy pages’ and this issue is the same size. We hope to continually produce this number of pages, for we find that we can cover that much more, whether it be articles, news, reviews and the other gayness-essities. But please don’t feel too angry with us if we occasionally drop back to 12 pages. As you might have guessed, now comes the plug for asking for more contributions and suggestions from you. We have enough ideas at present for main features, but news and featurette material is incredibly valuable to us. So keep on sending your ideas and articles in, and not forgetting your letters which are so important to us and interesting to all our readers.

Gay Ads

We are pleased to see that many of you find our personal ad section useful. That’s what it’s supposed to be, as much as anything else. Incidentally, it has come to our notice that Time Out had to reject an ad on the advice of their solicitor and the ‘forceful’ suggestion of W.H. Smiths. The ad offered a flat for ‘two gay mates’. Very obscene and corrupting, don’t you think? We sympathise with Time Out for being so vulnerable to the ‘moral’ whims and bellyaches of a major distributor and wholesaler. At least that publication (even though more expensive than us) has tried to make its ad section available to all, no matter what their sexual preferences. Gay News will of course always accept such ads, no matter what judges, Lords and moral bigots may decide, and that goes too for any possible future distributors.

In the near future we hope to run a feature on exactly what you think about gay ads, contact or otherwise, which we publish despite the ‘illegality’ of our actions. You don’t have to be a radical or a militant to end hypocrisy and sexual discrimination.

Women

The amount of content relating to women readers in Gay News is still pitifully small. If anything, we consider this to be still one of the major faults of the paper. It would be chauvinistic of us to just put into the paper what we men thought should go in for women, and a ‘women’s page’ is most certainly not the solution. So please, sisters, let us have your articles and points of view, and help us to make this paper truly for both sexes. If you are distrustful of our motivations, come and talk to us first or give us a ring.

Transport

Having to distribute Gay News ourselves is at times quite a task and a worry, and there may be one or two of you who could help us out. We desperately need some transport (car, van lorry) once every two weeks. So maybe you have a vehicle you could lend to us. Either you could drive it yourself or lend it to us for a day. We in turn will take the utmost care of your car etc, and will pay for petrol and/or expenses incurred. Alternatively, if any friendly millionaire or equivalent, in a moment of madness, wants to donate a vehicle to Gay News, we certainly won’t say no.

Subscriptions

We sincerely hope you all still find the paper interesting, informative, and dare we hope, amusing and entertaining. To those of you who originally took out a 10 issue subscription, could we remind you that it is almost time to renew your faith in us. Please don’t leave it to the last moment, for it helps keep the paper work down, and, need we say it, we need your continued support and money.

Provincial News

To return to the subject of you supplying us with news and information; you may find that we are somewhat lacking in news content in this issue. More so than some previous editions. A certain amount of news stories, usually the more obvious ones, are gathered by us. But we really need you to send us in anything you hear about, especially from those of you living out of London. At least send us any stories relating to gayness appearing in your local and provincial newspapers.

Please enjoy and be critical of this, our ninth edition. And remember, Gay News is as good as you help make it.

Many thanks to the customer of the Coleherne who gave us a donation on Saturday 7th October. Such acts mean a lot to us.

Mae ‘GAY NEWS’ yn croesawu tanwsgrifwyr cymreig ac y mae ar werth yng nghwmry.
By courtesy of the Welsh Office.

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.