GAY TIMES, November 1987

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

On 25 September TODAY’s lead was “GAY LESSONS BAN AT LAST”, which seems to assume that the whole nation is breathing a collective sigh of relief over what THE SUN (25 Sep) describes as Mr Baker’s “outlawing of gay sex lessons”.

However, all is not as straightforward as readers of the tabloids are led to believe. You have to look at the sensible papers to find out what is actually going on. THE GUARDIAN pointed out the some of the problems inherent in the Tory approach to sex education. While Mr Baker [Note: Kenneth Baker, the-then Education Secretary] is trying to forbid all positive mention of gay sex in schools, he also says that children must be educated in the danger of Aids. How do you do this without talking rather explicitly about different kinds of sexual acts, including the forbidden gay ones? The Guardian quotes Mrs Barbara Bulliant, secretary of the National Association of Governors and Managers, who accuses Mr Baker of “trying to reconcile two totally inconsistent attitudes”. And this opinion was echoed by David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, who said: “The circular does illustrate clearly how misguided it was of those MPs who fought to give governors the power to remove sex education from the curriculum.”

So, if the circular amounts to nothing much more than ill-considered hotchpotch of half-baked and contradictory advice, what was the point of issuing it? It represents, of course, another Tory propaganda exercise, and for proof of that we just need to look at how it was reported in the Tory papers: “Gay Sex Lessons banned”— (STAR 25 Sep), “Parents hail Baker’s gay lessons ban”—(LONDON STANDARD 25 Sep), “Crackdown on the Gay Lessons” (EXPRESS) and so on. Mrs Thatcher and her crew are presented in these stories as the true and only upholders of traditional values, and the scourge of all that is permissive and evil. But the other side of the coin is that the opposition are shown as promoters of all that is corrupting to children (“Crackdown by Baker won’t stop us, say Left-wing councils”—DAILY MAIL 26 Sep). Result: Thatcher’s reputation is enhanced and the opposition loses a few thousand more supporters. Simple, isn’t it, when you’ve got the papers in your pocket?

THE Rev Tony (“I don’t want to be the Gestapo”) Higton is the man trying to persuade the Church of England to hound out of its ranks those of its vicars who fail to conform to his interpretation of “Biblical standards.” He is now being supported in his ambitions by that other morally upstanding institution THE SUN, which has been running almost daily exposes of erring clergymen. “The Filthy Vicars in Our Midst” was the offering on 2nd October, in which The Sun introduced Mr Higton’s campaign of persecution to its readers. The papers also listed (with names, addresses and photographs) some of the churchmen who have misbehaved over the past twelve months and been caught at it.

Mr Higton is “launching a crusade to get the Church bosses to clean up the house of God” because, he says, adultery and homosexuality have reached “unacceptable levels” among the clergy.

The Sun, of course, is less mealy-mouthed about its mission to unmask homosexuals in the church and pursues its victims without mercy. We have been treated to the case of “the gay sex-change monk” and the accusation that Hilfield Friary in Dorset is a “hotbed of homosexuality” (5th Oct). Then there was “Vicar blasts ‘rent boy love’ smear” (26 Sep), “Gay Vicar and His Lover in Aids Storm” (30 Sep), “Sally Army boss preyed on bible boys” (7 Oct) and so on. This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course—The Sun is going to continue its campaign of persecution without let-up and where The Sun leads the other rags will surely follow (“Gay Vicar sacked”—STAR 28 Sep; “Church boots out gay school chiefs”—NoW 27 Sep).

Homing in on this witch-hunt like a bloated vulture comes Geoffrey Dickens MP: “I am appalled by what is going on…The Church must purge its pulpits of homosexuals,” he says. On the same basis, perhaps Parliament ought to purge its back benches of stupid, fat hypocrites — wasn’t it just two short years ago that The Sun was featuring the sordid details of Mr Dickens’ own adulterous love life on its front pages?

Higton, Dickens and The Sun—a trio of sickening humbugs who richly deserve each other!

THE SUN and Norman (normal) Tebbit have formed a mutual admiration society. Well, they would wouldn’t they? Norm told Sun readers (5/6 Oct): “YOU are the people who support family life. YOU have strong moral values and YOU fight the permissive society.”

In the same issue of The Sun were stories headed: “Gay monk prays for sex change op”, “Scandal of Soho’s nightclub nymphs”, “Panties tease pleases guys”, “My love for Mandy, 13, by Wyman”, “Her hot loving has torn us apart”, “I must win my sexy ex back,” etc etc. All good, morally uplifting stuff, with not a hint of permissiveness anywhere.

Far be it from me to suggest such a thing, but Mr Tebbit’s enthusiasm for The Sun couldn’t have anything to do with the paper’s arse-licking posture toward the Tory party, could it?

After a front-page lead describing a gay wedding (“Shame as Vicar Blesses Lesbian Bride and Groom”) our first pornographic daily paper commented (22nd Sep): “The Star is not anti-gay. We believe that homosexuals have every right to do their own thing—in private! But to pretend their behaviour is normal…that’s daft. And for a Church of England vicar to solemnly bless a ‘marriage’ between two women in church…that’s a scandal. Anyone who has sat in a pew will want to puke.”

If you thought that Ray Mills was the only poisonous bigot on this disgusting paper, then the above should disabuse you of the idea. The Star may claim not to be anti-gay, but I don’t think there are many gays who will claim they aren’t anti-Star.

SKY magazine is aimed at 16-24 year olds and claims a fortnightly sale of 170,000 in Britain and Europe. It carried a questionnaire about attitudes to homosexuality in its 27 Sep issue. About 2,500 people responded and the very interesting answers were carried in the 8th Oct issue. “Backlash? What backlash?” asked the magazine and, indeed, the results of their survey were very encouraging.

91% of respondents opposed the idea of recriminalising homosexuality; 80% opposed calls to make displays of affection between gays in public illegal. 70% said the age of consent for male gays should be 16 whilst 64% said that discrimination against gays should be against the law.

Just thought you’d like a bit of good news after all the twaddle from the tabloids.

To prove the point that parents are the best source of sex education for children THE SUN (25 Sep) gave us the earth-shattering tale of “mum of three” Sylvia Seager who allowed her kiddies to watch ‘Blue Peter’. She was “left open-mouthed with disgust” when she came back and saw the programme featuring a naked man. Apparently, there was an item about therapeutic mud baths in Russia and people actually had to… (shudder) …take their clothes off to feel the benefit. Mrs Seager said that at one point you could see a man’s “naughty hairs and his bottom.”

How disgusting— disenfranchise the BBC immediately and hand it over to Mr Murdoch! At least then Mrs Seager and the other silly old “mums” can feel secure that their children will be exposed only to the wholesome Murdoch formula of lots of tits and titillation but definitely no ‘naughty hairs’.

Commenting on the police raid on the London gay club “Frolics”, the local paper, THE LEWISHAM AND CATFORD MERCURY (24 Sep) wrote on its first page. “What a completely useless exercise…staff and customers feel they were victimised because it was a gay club. The sight of a paranoic WPC wearing rubber gloves helped enforce their fears…Chief Supt John Taylor owes the gay community an apology for his actions…and the residents of Catford an apology for wasting valuable police time and not putting all his resources into making SE London a safer place.”

To find someone in the press who is prepared to speak out in defence of the rights of gay people is a rarity indeed which is why we should cheer the Mercury for its brave stand.

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