GAY TIMES November 1989

Terry Sanderson’s autobiography “The Reluctant Gay Activist” is now available on Amazon

Reporting from New York for the London Evening Standard (2 Oct), Clive Barnes told of a new American gay magazine called Out Week which has “initiated a policy of trying to drag reluctant gays out of the closet, even if they are kicking and screaming”.

This is achieved by “publishing a list of about 50 people in a box marked ‘Peek-a-Boo’. There is no explanation for the list, but if a name is included alongside that of such uncloseted gays as Johnny Mathis or Barney Frank people can draw their own conclusions.”

Mr Barnes does not approve of this tactic. “Surely people should be allowed to come out of their appropriate closet in their own time. No-one needs this kind of smear coercion.”

Stephen Fry, on the other hand, almost certainly would agree with it. Mr Fry made the front page of The Sun (4 Oct) by declaring that “the House of Commons is full of perverts and homosexuals — who try to keep their own sexual behaviour quiet while attacking gays.” A double page spread inside the paper told us that the “self-confessed gay” “denounces loose-living MPs as hypocrites when it comes to moral values. Attacks society for assuming male homosexual teachers are influencing their pupils. Advocates that all homosexuals should marry and father children as well as continuing their homosexual acts. Condemns the ‘sanctimonious’ views of people who claim that the killer disease Aids is ‘God’s punishment on gays’”

Mr Fry expressed a lot of very sensible views about “Britain’s hypocrisy over homosexuals”, and it was good to see them being published in The Sun. But it was only two days later that the paper’s own columnist Fiona Macdonald Hull was shitbagging him. “Give it a rest all you gays”, shrieked this dreadful harpy. “Hands up everyone who is a little bit sick and tired of homosexuals telling us how NORMAL it is to be one, and how the rest of us really SHOULD try it,” she wrote. “The latest in the long line of hetero-bashers is Blackadder star Stephen Fry …”

I re-read the interview with Mr Fry and didn’t see him anywhere making a case for the superiority of homosexuality or encouraging straights to try it. Undaunted, Ms Hull continues: “Stephen also curses heterosexuals who curse homosexuals for the Aids plague. Bit unfair that, since homosexuals — whether they like to admit it or not (and they don’t) — DID start it.”

ACT UP might like to think about that one. And finally, in order to excuse her over-shrill defensiveness she wrote: “And yes, gay-bashing is common. So is Paki bashing, black bashing, and something called mugging which happens to everyone.”

Well, that’s all right then. Just so long as the violence doesn’t extend to stupid, irrelevant tit-heads who’d sell their own granny for a Murdoch paycheque there’s nothing to worry about.

Roger Scruton wrote in The Sunday Telegraph (24 Sep) what must surely rank as one of the most bizarre pieces of polemic ever printed in a British newspaper. Its title “Why heterosexism is not a vice” said it all. Ranting and raving in the most desperate manner, Mr Scruton was unable to make a single point without drifting into irrationality. He started off by saying that perhaps apartheid was a good thing and then went on to his main topic. “Probably the comment pages of The Sunday Telegraph provide the last remaining place where you can criticise homosexuality in print — the last place where toleration will be extended to the heterosexist.”

What a rarefied world Mr Scruton must inhabit if he is never exposed to the unending bad-mouthing of homosexuals in the British Press. Has he never listened to a debate in the Church of England Synod? Was he out of the country when Section 28 stirred up hundreds of column inches of anti-homosexual comment? However, the brunt of the article makes out that homosexuals are a danger to society because they do not reproduce and therefore have no “commitment to the social future”. This is fallacious, too. Homosexuals can, and frequently do, have children, and to cite a few members of The Bloomsbury Group (as Scruton does) as justification for the opinion that homosexuality is per se corrupt and effete is simply specious. He even blames homosexuals (personified in this instance by TE Lawrence) for creating a “langorous pacifism” which gave the green light to Hitler. So, it seems that even the Second World War was our fault!

Mr Scrotum (er, sorry, Scruton — I just can’t help thinking about a lot of balls as I read his article) ends by saying: “this lack of ‘moral shock’ — or, to give it its proper name, this shamelessness — is far from fortunate for society, and may well contain the doom of us all.”

A letter in the following week’s correspondence column summed the piece up: “The tabloid press is full of such stuff, but their scurrilous clap-trap is not dressed up as reasoned argument.” But that did not stop The Sunday Telegraph from continuing its vilification by also printing a long letter from Rev Hugh Rom who said that homosexuality “is no longer a private vice, but now a many-headed movement designed to make deviancy the norm by incestuous, underhand and dishonest propaganda.”

Such evil propaganda is easily recognised by the Reverend gentleman, of course — he and his fanatical predecessors have been engaged in it for over two thousand years.

Apparently, there is some kind of glasnost at The Sun. Worried by the mounting criticism of its filthiness, Rupert Murdoch ordered editor Kelvin McKenzie to break his arrogant I-don’t-have-to-explain silence and make excuses. Mr McKenzie invited fellow journalists to dinner and told them how wonderful The Sun was and that yes, they’d made a few mistakes over the years, but nothing to worry about.

But Mr McKenzie’s apparent ability to forget the harm he has done to countless people through The Sun’s racism, sexism, homophobia and unapologetic lying, doesn’t wash any more. The gay community will never, ever forgive McKenzie for what his paper has done to foster and promote the myths about Aids, to incite hatred against homosexuals and for the cruelty it has inflicted on individual gay people. As The Observer (24 Sep) said: “The ‘clean-up’ is purely cosmetic, putting a better face on the Murdoch empire … Ironically what may save newspapers from further assaults, such as the mooted legislation on privacy or restrictions on media monopolies, is that The Sun is Mrs Thatcher’s most slavish supporter in Fleet Street. She credits the paper with delivering working-class votes to the Tories and is therefore reluctant to smother Murdoch’s monster golden egg.”

As part of this strategy of pretend reform, Murdoch himself gave an interview (reported in The Sunday Telegraph 15 Oct) in which he has the temerity to forecast a religious revival in Britain “in which his newspapers will play their part in maintaining ‘high moral values’”

Pass me the sick-bag, please!

The fact that Zola Budd’s father was murdered in a so-called “homosexual love-tiff” is, I suppose, a legitimate news story. But what The Sunday Mirror printed (1 Oct) about the poor man was unforgiveable. The front page was taken up almost completely with the headline “Zola’s Gay Anguish” with the sub-heading: “My kinky father condemned me to a life of shame.” Ms Budd was then given two pages to insult and vilify her father’s memory. “I hated my Gay Dad to the Grave” was the next headline over the usual “sordid sex secret” “seedy double life” “father’s sex shame” etc. Ms Budd (a committed Christian, naturally) says in so many words she forgives the man who murdered her father because he was probably “provoked” into it by a homosexual advance.

Ms Budd tells how her father “masterminded” her athletics career and made her world famous. However, they fell out over money and eventually the rift between them became impossible to heal. The article portrays Frank Budd as a monster simply because he was gay; he is presented as a verminous creature unworthy of life. There is not one iota of sympathy for his predicament and, although Ms Budd is quoted as saying: “I forgive him his homosexuality. I can understand him in a way, although I think it was terribly unfair of him to marry and have children when he knew what he was”, nobody is interested in the hell Frank Budd must have endured being gay in the red-neck heartlands of South Africa.

This story was one more contribution to the relentless barrage of anti-homosexual propaganda being perpetuated by the evil trinity of Sunday scum-sheets. May they all rot in hell.

And-they-say-WE-have-no-sense-of-humour department: “The world’s most famous rabbit (Bugs Bunny) is to be branded a poofter … by a bunch of gays and lesbians. The so-called evidence is to be screened at a poofters film festival. And before the organisers start squealing ‘gay rights’ we question THEIR right to destroy a character who has made so many laugh gaily.” — Editorial in The Star (9 Oct).

At last someone has challenged the hypocrisy of television’s attitudes to gay people. Actor Alec McCowen was the subject of This is Your Life. As is usual when the subject is gay, the producers failed to mention anything about his sexuality. Mr McCowen wasn’t having any of that and when the programme was finished, and no reference had been made to his lover of seventeen years (who died of Aids two years ago) the actor denounced the programme as “a sham and an insult” (Sun 13 Oct).

The Daily Mirror quoted a “This is Your Life insider” as saying: “We never dwell on the sexual side of anyone’s life and we thought we were being discreet.”

Of course, with heterosexual subject the spouse invariably sits by their side, holding hands, wedding photos are shown and the children are paraded (presumably we are to believe that these were found under a gooseberry bush and are not the result of sexual congress). Mr McCowen would not go along with the “discretion” though, and as a result a small tribute will be paid to his lover in the edited programme.

We can expect no such concessions in that other haven of heterosexism Blind Date. In an interview with the producer, Kevin Roast, The Guardian’s Melanie McFadyen asked why there had never been a gay Blind Date. “I don’t think that would be appropriate for a game show on a Saturday night at 7.30. Blind Date is a heterosexual show. I’m trying to make the best entertainment I can with the best mix of people I can; people who enjoy themselves on TV. I’m not sure whether gays would enjoy themselves or not. It’s not something we’ve thought about. It doesn’t interest me so I suppose as long as I’m producing it, it won’t happen. I’m not anti-gay, but you have to think about the audience.” Or as Cilia might say: Warra lorra, lorra crap, chuck.

The new-born Sunday Correspondent has carried a couple of sympathetic gay features in its first few issues. Rev Malcolm Johnson wrote (15 Oct) “Gay Love: part of God’s creation”, an excellent, uncomplicated retort to the usual anti-gay Christian fundamentalist views so popular in newspapers. It also did a complimentary article about the tenth birthday of The Gay Men’s Press (1 Oct).

The Sunday Mirror, however, decided to celebrate that same tenth birthday with a shock-horror “Stop the bookshop ‘poison’” screamer. Apparently “Authors fight move to sell gay literature in High Street”. The gist of the piece is that famous writers like Jeffrey Archer, Jilly Cooper, Barbara Cartland and Frederick Forsyth are vigorously campaigning to stop GMP books from being sold in anything other than “specialist bookstores and sex shops”. The supposed “campaign” however is a figment of Sunday Mirror journo Ian Markham-Smith’s imagination — there is no wide-spread outrage as he suggests. What actually happened was that Markham-Smith saw an advertisement for GMP books in The Bookseller, rang a few famous names and got them to say things like: “If the Gay Men’s Press sought to shove this kind of garbage under the noses of my two sons I would happily smash their faces in” (Frederick Forsyth). “These titles could easily pollute children’s minds” (Barbara Cartland). “It’s distressing that these books should be available in a family neighbourhood.” (Jeffrey Archer).

But best of all is soft-porn writer Jilly Cooper: “I think it’s just tacky and awful. This sort of literature doesn’t help anyone”.

It’s hard to imagine that the works of any of these philistines and would-be book burners adds much to the quality of human life. Given the garbage that Cartland churns out and the universally mocked writings of Archer, I would think that GMP are quite happy to be in a different league. And forward to the High Street!

Nice to see that Rev Jim Bakker, the appalling televangelist who screwed millions of dollars out of his crazy congregation, has got his just desserts. One hopes that all the other grasping hypocrites posing as “men of God” will go the same way. But it was slightly unnerving to see (News of the World 15 Oct) that he is now “accused of having a string of GAY lovers”. I wonder if that’s enough to provoke Tammy Fay into weeping her first real tears?

The Church Times (8 Sep) advised its readers that “The Queen has appointed the Bishop of Chelmsford … to be Clerk of the Closet.” His duties, presumably, will be to ensure that all gay clergy not already dragged out by the Sunday scandal-sheets remain safely locked away where they can do no harm.

“Eyebrows shot up last week when Lord McClusky ruled that four-year-old James Hill should return to Canada with his gay father. Yet, ‘statistically, we should be more, worried about a heterosexual man gaining custody of a child. For almost daily, the papers show that nearly all the monsters behind masks of normality who murder, maim and sexually abuse children are HETEROSEXUAL.” —Dorothy-Grace Elder, columnist Sunday Mail (3 Dec)

Amazing-U-Turn Department: “I think parliament was right to legalise homosexuality between consenting adults.” — Geoffrey Dickens MP, once a leading campaigner for “re-criminalisation” of homosexuality (News of the World, 10 Dec).

“The poofs party line, regurgitated in the bitty HYSTERIA 2, is to exaggerate grossly the Aids threat to straights and play down its causes. They do this to boost funds for Aids research and keep us from discussing radical solutions, like outlawing homosexuality and hanging heroin pushers.”

Believe it or not, this is from a television review. It appeared, need you ask, in The Sun and was written by someone called Garry Bushell whose journalistic style absolutely epitomises that paper: he is racist, sexist, homophobic, stupid and vacuous.

Mr Bushell assures us that he is an unashamed reactionary, he boasts of his unenlightened bigotry and hard-line right-wing credentials, and yet investigative journalist Paul Foot of The Daily Mirror revealed that Mr Bushell once applied for a job on the ultra left-wing paper Socialist Worker. “Into the office strode a young man who wanted to change the world. He was brimming over with rage at capitalist society … He wrote beautifully and passionately for the revolution and we loved him. I imagine you’ve guessed his name by now: Garry Bushell.”

Stung by this revelation, Bushell quickly put the record straight in The Sun (25 Nov): “Like many people, I believe in things Parliament never discusses — capital punishment, abolishing immigration, an end to the ceaseless promotion of poofs and perversions and a crackdown on the spongers who have bled this country dry.”

Mr Bushell admits to cheering the National Front and makes his TV column a platform for his bottomless hatred. The two photographs above the article told the whole story: the first was Bushell aged 20 — a reasonably attractive, the other was “Gary now” — looking remarkably like Jack Nicholson running amok with an axe in The Shining.

However, I suppose everyone has the right to change their mind; the problem is that Bushell has no discernible mind to change — his skull seems to contain little more than a pimple.

And the same goes for Paul Johnson who is, according to The Sunday Correspondent magazine (19 Nov): “the stern Catholic moralist and spiritual counsellor to Mrs Thatcher”. It was revealed that Mr Johnson was once the writer of soft porn novels.

Mr Johnson propagandises ceaselessly about the sexual laxity of youth, the dangers of tolerating homosexuality and the evil inheritance of the sixties, whilst conveniently forgetting his own contradictory past (his porno novels were published in the mid-sixties at which time he was a loony leftist, too). No doubt he would claim that in his case it was youthful exuberance and nothing more. Nowadays like other tiresome ‘moralists’ he tries to deny the present generation similar exuberance. But isn’t selfishness one of the seven deadly sins?

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