“Queer” is how I feel

04-197208XX 05I feel there must be many potential readers of Gay News who have a similar situation to mine (see below) so perhaps you will be interested in my reaction to your first 2 issues.

I am greatly heartened by the existence of Gay News and filled with admiration that the product is so together, considering all the problems you must have had. I think the design and presentation is completely satisfactory although I didn’t care for the drawings, (except the one illustrating ‘Hamburger Jesus’ in no. 1). I approve of a radical viewpoint but you generally seem to be writing to gays who have long since come to terms with themselves and have only the Gays-in-Society problem to overcome. I mean that the contributors to, and persons written about in G.N. so far, seem already liberated. Maybe this is how it should be but read on! I hope for their sakes there aren’t many like me but I suspect there are and I am far from adjusted yet. I can’t add my voice to Gay Lib until I am a self assured gay. How about some encouragements and re-assurance for those like me! For example I would have been very interested in details of how David Hockney reached his apparently happy state – how did he tell his Mum? As your paper has moved me to write my feelings down you may also be interested in the non-events which have led me from total to partial ignorance; in any case it will be good therapy to precis it for myself, so here goes. It’s rather sad so get out your hankies!

Nine months ago I could not have written down I AM GAY without being sickened by myself. I have known since school that I was attracted to boys but as I also liked the company of girls I hoped I could encourage a hetero urge and become “normal” (cliche no.1). I never knew anyone who admitted to being gay and felt I was the only one in the World etc. etc. This had eaten away my confidence and although I have friends I can’t have a close friendship, because I can’t be completely honest with them. After years of worry and a few disastrous attempts to form hetero relationships I finally admitted to myself last year that I am gay and always will be. (I still hate saying it; it seems such an inappropriate word – “queer” is more how I feel). I hadn’t the courage to tell friends or parents in case they are repelled – still haven’t! And so I was completely despairing and felt utterly alone, but this year things looked up. From somewhere I found the confidence to improve my career and then almost at the same time I met Mr. Wonderful! (Surge of Strings). He seemed to quite like me and he has very similar tastes in entertainment, records, clothes etc. He is about my age and in more or less the same profession. And he is gay! (Thrills). The few gay people I have met or known of so far I have found rather caricatured anyway; unattractive, probably because I was too naive to recognise them unless they were very camp.

But he is a real person, sensible, sensitive and I love his weaknesses. He has gay friends and straight friends who accept him, although he is not without hang ups. Now the most banal pop love songs seem meaningful and I can’t listen to Dusty S. without becoming an emotional jelly. Is this boring you? Well one night we went to a (nice) gay club and the people were beautiful – I was amazed that they weren’t all posturing ponces. You can imagine the thrill of dancing with him after years of trying to enjoy groping girls. A little later after another evening out, I mustered the courage to tell him I was gay. He knew of course, but it was quite something for me to tell someone. He was very patient and sympathetic and near enough kissed me (Heaven!). It was such a relief to be open with someone at last that on a later occasion I just had to tell him I was crazy for him. SHIT!! What a mistake! He (tenderly) told me he was still hung up on an old boyfriend. That’s the end of the story. I still see him sometimes but he seems to be able to live without me as he doesn’t phone nearly often enough. What should I do Auntie Gay News? I’ve probably shown him my weakest side – Should I have taken the initiative? Are there others like him? There can’t be! My entry into GAYLAND starts and ends with him. How can I tell people what I am when I haven’t even been gay? Instead am I technically a homosexual? What a sad tale! But still I will be optimistic; things must change.

It’s done me good to wnte this down – I wonder if you’ll print any of it. I sure hope he doesn’t read it and recognise us or I’ll never face him again so please please don’t print my name or address (perhaps one day…). I would answer letters though.

Pin Ups and Gay Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fraternally yours,

Bob Mellors.

Conveyor Belt Sex

04-197208XX 05Unfortunately from the word go., the relationship was no.

No in the mind of what he wanted.

Clapham Common, Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath, Baker Street toilets.

Could one develop a relationship with another person finding them in one of these spots. He supposed it was an accepted fact that if a male picked up another in a homosexual patterned joint, that it was sexual necessity first and foremost. Since it was quite easy for one to get sex this way, in these places, no bother to meet again just hop down to the bog.

Hence! “You’re beautiful.”

But they never meet again for someone else came along to take the momentous place.

The conveyor belt moves on.

So one gets up in the morning and looks over to the form lying somewhat detached from himself and thinks. “O no. I’ve done it again. I’ve sexed, slept, probably smiled with someone, shared something. But it was all a lie, it meant nothing. The insincerity of a passing acquaintance crippled with the background of a dizzy pickup in the jungle makes me feel sickly.” This is my life, one thinks. Young and wanting not just sex but a wholesome relationship and what does one get?

Degradation being forced to go to these hunting grounds whatever form they’re in; meeting someone who excites you, going home with them, acting friendly and nice. And then for the big climax, having sex, climax? sex …….. only?

And then feeling hollow because you know instinctively that there’s no true feeling, there is or was a sexual feeling but that’s gone in the vacant morning.

Because of the factors that the homosexual plays in – this long conveyor belt of one night, two week relationships he is trapped into being excessively free about his sexual relationships. Unfortunately, though these little bouts mean nothing. Basically nobody looks for a negative life style. But it is there

One sees and meets older men. They are twenty-eight, forty two, one thinks, someday I’ll be there. One sees nothing very encouraging. Men who have adjusted and accept this light, meaningless life.

They are happy (accept) with insincere little frolicks. Contented with just sex. Crippled inside with no real love.

Homosexual groups are good in that it has brought to the public’s eye (shortsighted) that homosexuals are around and probably has dispersed a lot of myths about them (which are corny). There is also a much better chance of meeting people without showing a cock first. Ten years ago, negroes were still maids. Now they are much more. It is insane to have negroes only play as butlers in Hollywood.

Homosexuals will be more accepted in ten years time. But I feel that a lot of the problem is to do individually. Society has supressed the homosexual. And when the law does break itself to free them it will be them to liberate themselves to a happier life.

By an 18 year old boy

PS. I like your magazine.