GAY TIMES September 1988

The Glasgow University Media Group’s guide to the nation’s press awarded first prize for the Most Inaccurate Daily Newspaper in Britain to The Sun. Runner-up was, predictably, The Star. Greg Philo of the Media Group said The Sun was “well ahead of the rest of the pack for clear prima facie untruths”. Well, I am surprised!

And here, right on cue is another chapter from The Sun’s barefaced lies department. Reporting on the departure of EastEnders’ gay character Colin (“Ender Bender in Aids Rumpus”) The Sun said (6 Aug): “Eastenders executives are under political pressure to give gay screen characters like Colin a lower profile. Once Colin’s gay love affair with barrow boy Barry was one of the dominant plot lines in the series. But angry viewers jammed the switchboards last year after the two men were seen kissing on screen.”

Now just a minute — to start with the characters have never been seen kissing on screen. The most that ever happened between them was when (more sensitive readers might want to turn away at this point) Colin once squeezed Barry’s arm. I checked with the BBC myself following The Sun’s claim that there had been a mass protest at the arm-squeeze, and they denied categorically that there had been any more calls than usual. It was simply another of The Sun’s fabrications, which they continue to perpetuate even to this day.

Now an illustration of how the papers like nothing better than to perpetuate each other’s lies. On 24th July, John Junor (my nomination for Top Twat of this — and every — month) was screeching in his scumbag Sunday Express column: “Once again the London Borough of Ealing is advertising for a child care officer . . . saying Ealing’s new council will welcome applications from ‘lesbians and gay men’ … Isn’t that akin to setting alcoholics free in a liquor shop?”

Unable to let a choice insinuation about the “loony Left” pass without repeating and embellishing it, the following day’s Sun carried a story headed “Lefties Seek Gay for Boy’s Home Job”.

In fact, Ealing Council’s Equal Opportunities statement is carried in all recruitment advertising. This ad was no exception. Far from “seeking a gay” for the job in question, the ad simply said that gays would not be barred from applying.

Still, when there’s a propaganda war to fight, truth is expendable.

No sooner has Parliament gone on holiday (please, please stay there!) than the media’s “silly season” begins. First off the mark was, of course, The News of the World, where the silly season has no beginning and no end. “Gay Cell Shocker for Lester” was the front-page lead on 31st July. It told a rather pathetic tale, sold to the Murdoch merchants by “burglar David O’Halloran”, of an alleged incident in High Point Prison where Lester Piggott is incarcerated.

It seems The News of the World’s ever-open wallet encourages people with rather dubious morals to come forward for the easy pickings. Indeed, I would imagine the journalists who write this kind of bilge feel at home with these deadbeats they support so avidly.

The alleged “gay sex scenes” were described with the usual adjectives: “sordid”, “stomach-churning” and so on. But the really sordid player in this little affair is the disgusting editor of The News of the World, Wendy Henry. If the Press Council wants credibility it ought to make her explain what she thinks she’s doing paying rent boys and criminals for their “stories” — what kind of morality is it that allows this kind of dubious journalism to flourish? They must be queuing up to get into High Point — going to jail has never been so lucrative!

The Independent carried an interview with Bishop John Spong of Newark, New Jersey (20th July), who was at the Lambeth Conference. The Bishop is of the liberal persuasion and is “unimpressed” by the British church’s ludicrous debates on such topics as women priests and homosexuality.

On homosexuality, the paper says he has been impressed with research at a New York hospital which appears to show that male homosexuality is the result of neuro-chemical influences on the foetus. “If this is substantiated,” says the Bishop, “it means that the attitude of the Christian church has been evil and not just wrong.” He also says he honours some of his avowedly homosexual priests as well as some of his secret ones. He argued that the Church should support monogamous and long-lasting homosexual partnerships, although he denies vigorously that he is talking about ‘homosexual marriage’.

I wouldn’t go along with all the Bishop’s opinions, but at least they have some kind of reason to them. Not so The Star, which picked up the story the following day and headlined it “Chemicals to blame for poofs — says bishop”. The bishop became “whacky” because he wanted “the church to give its blessing to woofter relationships”. He was also quoted as saying: “If the Church of England can bless the British Armada before it sails to kill Argentinians it should be able to bless two human beings who are in love with each other.”

The Star says Bishop Spong allows his priests to bless “queers”. Although the story was credited to “Star Reporter”, it had the fingerprints of Ray Mills all over it.

The Lambeth Conference did try to come to grips with homosexuality in relation to Aids. “African Bishops yesterday led a fierce and triumphant attack on liberal understandings of human sexuality,” reported Andrew Brown in The Independent (5 Aug). He said, “An official motion on Aids, and a private members motion on human rights for homosexuals were savagely amended.”

The Primate of Kenya, the “Most Rev” Mannasses Kuria is reported as saying that Aids “is a disease from that sin of homosexuality.”

Oh really? What about lesbians — they are homosexuals and Aids is almost unknown amongst them. And isn’t it true that the majority of those infected in Africa are heterosexual? The Primate of Kenya is going to have a lot to answer for on judgement day if he continues to cling to his Biblical fantasies at the expense of common sense and compassion.

Although it is convenient for the religious fools to believe otherwise, Aids is not a homosexual disease, it is everyone’s disease and the sooner we recognise this the better.

If they want to know about sin these foolish men should step outside of themselves and start to question their own wicked attitudes.

Undeniable truth department coupled with hypocrite of the month award: “The Times and the Sunday Times tell up-market lies and The Sun and the News of the World trawl the gutter for their fantasies” —Editorial in Daily Mirror (25 July).

The Sunday Telegraph (24thJuly) announced that its crank columnist (Holy) Mary Kenny was in hospital. At last, I thought, some good news.

But there was even better to come — her place had been taken by Celia Haddon who had the following to say: “Almost all the middle-aged heterosexual men I know seem to have become unhealthily obsessed with and prejudiced against homosexuality. They are intemperate, bigoted and hypocritical. Clearly, their tolerance a few years back was only skin deep. Aids has given them the chance to come out in their true colours. What really enrages me is the way they pretend sodomy (and therefore higher risk of passing on Aids) is confined only to gay men. As many women know, it is something that quite a few completely heterosexual men like doing. I am also infuriated by the Russian roulette idea that conventional intercourse is safe because so few women in Britain are infected yet. This claim is usually made by the same middle-aged men … You would think straight men ought to be grateful that the Aids epidemic started among gay men. Gay men are literally dying for all of us. The two or three people I have come across who carry the virus are an inspiration to me for their courage and humour.”

That’s telling ’em, girl. I wonder if it was a coincidence that the editor, Peregrine Worsthorne was on holiday that week?

Tom Robinson spoke to The Sunday Times (31 July) about his career and his private life. In passing he mentioned that at the moment he was having a relationship with a woman. “He dismisses the idea of any betrayal. ‘I’ve had plenty of affairs with men who consider themselves heterosexual. Why can’t I have an affair with a woman and still consider myself homosexual?’”

A fair enough question — after all, most of us accept that human sexuality isn’t a cut and dried business. But not so the tabloids, for whom everything must be in black and white, even if it makes no sense. For the following week The People took up the story, and expanded it into a double-page spread, with pictures of the lady involved (defined as a lesbian because she wears leathers and rides a motorcycle).

An editorial in the same issue, though, betrays The People’s true (save our children from positive images of homosexuality) motivation: “Rock star Tom Robinson has shocked his homosexual friends by falling in love with a GIRL. Which just goes to show we misunderstood when he sang Glad to be Gay. He was just demonstrating how happy he was!”

There’s only one word for The People: pathetic. Truly pathetic.

It was intensely pleasing to see Mrs Thatcher getting a rough ride from Australian gays during her recent trip down under. One thing that emerged from her narrow escape from the angry “homos” was that La Thatch seems to be genuinely puzzled when it is made clear to her that not everyone worships at her shrine.

Her infuriating voice and her presumptuous use of the royal we (“we take our decisions to our parliament” — who does this woman think she is?) are enough to drive anyone insane. Alan Rusbridger noted in The Guardian (6 Aug) that Mrs Thatcher was interviewed on Australian television in a way that would be simply unthinkable here (that is to say, someone has the temerity to ask tough questions and insist that she answer them). “Mrs Thatcher stared at (the interviewer) with the evil eye. But by now something had cracked. The Reece grooming, the bouffanted voice, the Meltis soft-centred manner: midnight had struck and they had all vanished. We were transported back to a Mrs Thatcher we’d not glimpsed on telly since 1978: eyes flaring, strident, corncrake voiced.”

Speaking about the gay protestors (London Standard 5 Aug) she is quoted as saying: “One is very glad that they are not on your side”.

It sounded somehow pathetic, as though she were deeply hurt that people could possibly disagree with her — about anything.

The unfortunate truth is that millions of people hate and detest her with a ferocity that is quite alarming to behold. She should spend a few days in the North of England and she’d soon discover what most of her “subjects” think about her. I have never known a Prime Minister generate such feelings of antipathy amongst normally well-balanced people. Indeed, I spoke to one man in Sheffield recently who told me that he was saving up for a street party to be held on the day Mrs Thatcher dies. All the places are booked.

However, her press corps (“our lapdogs”, as she probably calls them) will have none of it. They tried to make the Melbourne protesters sound like some kind of aliens brought from another planet to utter anti-Thatcher blasphemies (“she was mobbed by poofs and provos” — Sun 6 Aug). The Daily Mail (5 Aug) enlisted Senator John Stone, Leader of the National Party in the Senate and one of Australia’s most outspoken politicians (i.e. a loony right winger) to write about “The shame of Australia”. In the Senator’s view the “shame” seems to be that dissent of any kind was permitted. “I don’t know who makes up the mob” he said. “In Melbourne … there were homosexuals who are certainly not representative of Australia and are likely to be even less so in the future.” The article was so extreme and anti-democratic that The Sun simply couldn’t resist it and also carried it the following day.

But these efforts by the press lackeys to rescue the PM’s image from the debacle were undermined by the fact that we could all see the truth of what was happening on television.

Mrs Thatcher has now made plain (in case anyone was in any doubt) that she holds gay people in the utmost contempt. I am pleased to say that, for the most part, the feeling is quite mutual.

THE British Medical Journal (30 July) carried an editorial by John Bancroft which posed the question “Is living a homosexual lifestyle bad for your health?” After much rumination, he came to the conclusion that not only was homosexuality “compatible with full health” but that if the Government “fostered sexual equality” and came to regard sex as “a binding force in loving intimate relations” rather than “a means of asserting gender or gaining status” it might “improve the heterosexual rather than reduce the homosexual aspects of our society.”

Let’s have more of this kind of thought, please.

Finally, I’m taking a rest from the Mediawatch column for the next few months but I hope to be back in the New Year. Bye for now.

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