‘Queer’ Author Tells All

BRIGHTON: Author John Montgomery, who lives here, revealed exclusively to Gay News that he secretly wrote the book ‘Queer People’, first published by W.H. Allen in 1963.

John wrote the book under a pseudonym as Douglas Plummer. This was necessary, he says, because: “I was then a partner with a leading literary agent, and hesitated to risk offending clients.

“Also the public was not ready to accept gay people, and the Wolfenden Report hadn’t yet become law. I hoped my book would help to influence public opinion, and I believe that in a small way it succeeded.”

Queer People started with the words: “I am a homosexual”, and attracted considerable attention. It was attacked by several English newspapers, but Citadel Press in New York published an American edition, and a British paperback appeared. Facts, figures and case histories used in the book were supplied by the Homosexual Law Reform Society, which had been started by writers J.B. Priestley and his wife Jacquetta Hawkes, who had financed the society out of their own pockets.

The book demanded a change in the law and justice for gay people. John says: “It influenced Bryan Magee to write One In Twenty and is quoted by H. Montgomery-Hyde in The Other Love, and other books on the subject.”

John’s chapters were headed Who Are We?, Where We Meet, Inside A Club, Prison For Homosexuals, Blackmail and Suicide, The Policeman at The Door and Change The Law! It ended with the words “Live decently and do not forget that true love is usually ennobling and enriching for both partners, and can be a source of inspiration to others.”

John Montgomery, alias Douglas Plummer, asked in the book: Should homosexuals have their own literature?

“Why not? If our minority is not allowed to express itself in its own magazines, newspapers and other forms, and to express the homosexual viewpoint, then how about other minorities? What about the Quakers? And why should the Jews or coloured people publish their own journals? In fact, exactly how free are the people of Britain?”

Just before the critical debate in Parliament that changed the law, copies of the paperback edition were sent to nearly all the MPs.

John Montgomery has written other books – his The World Of Cats has sold more than 300,000 copies. His other books include novels, social histories and children’s books.

“Queer People brought me hundreds of letters,” the author told GN. “Many men told me frankly that it had helped them to adjust their feelings.

“Some left the book out for their parents to read, knowing that it would break down the barriers. Several people invited me to go and live with them.

“But I think the book was well worth writing. It is something I’m quite proud of having achieved. My publisher had no idea who Douglas Plummer was when he accepted it, although I’d already had ten books published by other firms under my real name.”

CHE Talks To Liverpool

From the Convenor of the Liverpool Group

On September 20th, the Liverpool Group of CHE held a “teach-in” on homosexuality at Liverpool Cathedral. Intended for professional workers, the meeting attracted some 3S people representing schools, youth clubs, the probation service, voluntary and local authority social services, Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy, Samaritans and magistrates.

The speakers were the convenors of the Liverpool and Wirral Groups of CHE and Michael Butler, Deputy Director of the Samaritans in London. They covered various aspects of homosexuality, including the myths and misconceptions surrounding the subject, the legal position of homosexuals and the need for CHE and Friend. Afterwards, a panel including the speakers, Antony Grey of the Albany Trust and Dennis Nadin of the London CHE Churches Working Party, answered questions and engaged in a discussion with the audience.

The discussion was well worthwhile, especially where it probed the ways in which the Group and the various agencies represented could co-operate to help homosexuals. These discussions will now be extended through a number of discussion groups being arranged at the request of many of those present. Many of the contacts which the group has made, particularly with the probation service and Samaritans, were cemented and new links forged. The help which the group is now getting from various sources is very gratifying.

The meeting was also interesting as it was the first occasion for which the group had solicited press coverage. A small announcement in the “Liverpool Echo” a couple of days before started complaints against the use of a place of worship for a meeting on such a disgusting subject. The protests were spearheaded by the Secretary General of the Christian Political Union, whatever that is; we’re still trying to find out – and hit the front page of the Liverpool “Daily Post” on the day of the teach-in and was given prominent coverage in one of the suburban weeklies. There were demands that the meeting be called off. The group is very grateful to the Dean of the Cathedral for allowing us the use of a room and to him and his staff for dealing with the complaints. Because of the protests, interviews with the convenors of the two Merseyside groups and the Christian Political Union were broadcast on Radio Merseyside the next day and a short report appeared in the “Liverpool Echo”. We thought the press coverage reasonably fair to us.

On the whole, a very fruitful evening. Expensive and time-consuming to arrange, but it paid off in all sorts of ways.

Underground Violence

LONDON: It has been reported to Gay News that at least one person was attacked on the Northern Line tube whilst returning from the Wednesday Gay Lib Disco at ‘The Bull and Gate’ pub, Kentish Town, on 18th November.

Apparently the attackers on seeing some people in semi-drag and wearing make-up decided it was time to take their aggressiveness out on someone, and began punching one of the disco-goers in the face. Reports vary about how many people were involved in the ensuing violence, and GLF’s London office, at the time of writing, knows nothing about the incident.

It does seem though, that this was just an isolated occurence and it certainly doesn’t mean that the skinhead/queer-basher violence that spoilt a number of GLF dances at Fulham Town Hall will be repeated at this popular gay disco. But we suggest that it may be a good idea for those wearing things likely to bring unwanted attention, to travel back with a group of people, rather than on their own or with just a handful of friends. We also recommend anyone who suffers any violence on the tube, to report the incident to the Transport Police.

Further developments, if any, will appear in GN

Jail For 72yr Old

NEWBURY: A 72-year-old Berkshire man remanded by Newbury, Berks, magistrates for medical and psychiatric reports earlier this month was jailed for a year and ordered to pay £16 costs for ‘committing gross indecency’.

He had admitted the offence and said that he had committed about 100 similar offences over a two-year period.

The chairman of Newbury’s magistrates said: “But for your age, we would have been justified in sending you to Crown Court for sentence”.

A second man, aged 35, who admitted two offences of gross indecency was put on probation for two years.

Source: Reading Gay Arrow

Mario Goes Straight

NOTTINGHAM: Northern gays are being hit by a crack-down in Nottingham’s one gay bar, where the manager has now refused to sell Gay News, as well as refusing to pay for copies of the paper which he has received.

The manager, who also owns Mario’s club, in Castle Gate. Nottingham, is James Heatherington. He told Gay News he was not gay.

He agreed originally by post, to sell the paper in the club, but since then has refused to put it on sale. Questioned by Gay News he refused to advise us to stop supplying him with the paper.

The saddest thing is that Heatherington’s club is described as the “nearest good club” by a lonely gay from Leeds who wrote to GN.

Quite apart from not paying Gay News for any copies he has sold, Heatherington has refused to return any unsold copies.

Guess What

LONDON. A customer of Britain’s largest and best known gay pub, The Coleherne in Earl’s Court, who was recently arrested for ‘wilful obstruction’ in Wharfedale Street (which runs directly behind the pub) was agreeably surprised when his case was thrown out of Great Marlborough Street Magistrates’ Court.

The magistrate said that there was no charge to answer and the member(s) of Chelsea Police Force responsible for the arrest was rebuked for wasting the courts time.

Anyone caring to check the details of this belated report can do so by getting in touch with the magistrate’s court mentioned above.

Christmas Issue

As our second publication date in December falls too close to Christmas for comfort, we are only bringing out one edition that month.

But we mean to make it a very special Gay News – with more pages, facts, fun, photos, info and that sort of thing.

To make it a real Christmas and New Years issue, we need all your help. And this time we mean it!

We need more letters, more contributed articles, more humour, and pictures. Remember too it is going to be a Christmas issue, therefore it would be good if things you send us have something to do with that time of year.

Of course the biggest GN ever won’t cost a penny more, but it will be packed with prize winning competitions, features by big name writers, and further gushings of your GN favourites.

Remember, it is your paper, and the success of the Christmas and New Years issue depends on you.