THE acquittal of Keith Hampson brought favourable comment from many of the Fleet Street commentators. [Note: Keith Hampson was a Conservative MP who was arrested in May 1984 at a gay theatre club in Soho after being accused of touching the thigh of what turned out to be an undercover policeman. The subsequent court case against him was dropped, but it ended his parliamentary career.]
“Police constables’ time is surely better spent than hanging around Soho clubs in tight jeans, necklaces and training shoes,” said THE GUARDIAN, whilst THE DAILY MAIL said: “Where there is no suggestion of corruption of youth or any other criminal activity, many people may well wonder why charges of this kind are brought against citizens — prominent or not. Surely the police and courts have better things to do.”
Alexander Chancellor in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH chided PC Stuart Marshall for his “off-duty” clothes: “He possibly looks very nice in them, but might they not, I wonder, convey a slightly misleading impression if worn in a homosexual club? They would not, at any rate, appear the ideal attire for a policeman intent on avoiding the embarrassment of any indecent interest being directed towards himself.”
The sympathies were the same, but the expression offensive, as you’d expect, from John Smith in THE SUNDAY PEOPLE: “One wonders whether PC Marshall went there looking like a proper poof in the hope that he would be treated like one.”
So, will all this mean anything or is it just – again – empty cant?
THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH reveals that Sir Kenneth Newman, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner “has ordered that all uniformed policemen and women assigned to plain clothes duties must be properly briefed by a senior officer against acting as agents provocateurs.”
The order was made on October 12th and is contained in the Metropolitan Police General Orders, the “two-volume Bible” of the force. How seriously can we take this? Well, a letter from Scotland Yard, dated 30th March 1984 (reported in POLICING LONDON) said: “Guidance on entrapment is contained in paragraph 1.92 of Home Office consolidation circular … that no member of the police force should counsel, invite or procure the commission of a crime.”
This was just over a month before the arrest of Keith Hampson. Or, as Larry Gostin, General Secretary of The National Council for Civil Liberties said in a letter to THE GUARDIAN: “Policing the morals of the community of the kind illustrated in these cases will continue unabated. The only thing that will change now that the Hampson case is over is that the subject will be eased out of the news while the police practices carry on as before.”
According to THE SUNDAY TIMES book review of the New Longman Dictionary, a note in the lexicon declares: “Gay is the preferred word used by homosexuals of themselves and this has become such an important sense of the word that one may be misunderstood if one uses it simply to mean ‘cheerful’.” At last — the word is officially ours!
Not noted for its radicalism, THE BOOKSELLER (organ of the book trade) managed an angry editorial about the Customs action against Gay’s The Word. Noting the techniques so far employed, THE BOOKSELLER observes: “If many of the titles are not believed by Customs to be indecent or obscene but are held to weaken the trading position of the shop, and to increase the cost of preparing a defence, many will see the tactics of the Customs and Excise as a clear abuse of power.”
They are perfectly right, of course. There can no longer be any shadow of doubt that this is not an attempt to keep “obscenity” out of the country, but a direct attempt to destroy Gay’s The Word.
And that is why it is the duty of all of us to hasten to the shop’s defence. If the authorities succeed in this endeavour —what next?
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over a letter which was published in the Portsmouth SOUTHERN EVENING ECHO. It was from an idiot called Stuart Wallace, who informed readers about the meaning of the term “street dog”. He says it’s well known gay terminology (obviously I’ve led a sheltered life, never having heard it before). “Street dogs are those who roam and tramp the street and ‘cottages’ (public toilets) seeking out male prostitutes or willing partners.” He then goes into great detail about Portsmouth’s cottages — surely none but a regular could have such a comprehensive knowledge. Finally (and you can almost see the slobber running down his lips) he informs his horrified audience that he has “rubbed shoulders” with “these fermenting fruits”.
It goes on like some kind of diseased sex fantasy until Mr Wally (er … I mean, Wallace) tells us he had to leave the crew of the QE2 because “it was so rife” and he was afraid it would become “compulsory”. Daft as a brush, as my old mother would say.
THAT’S FAMILY LIFE (BBC1 TV) dealt with gay teenagers and their coming out problems at home. A young man called Keith spoke movingly about his homosexuality and how afraid and isolated it had made him feel. His mother, in turn, described her shock of first hearing the news (“I cried non-stop for three days”) and his stepfather described the profound change in his own attitudes when Keith came clean about his sexuality. “To be honest, before I knew about Keith, the idea of homosexuality made my flesh creep. I didn’t want to be anywhere near them.” “And now?” probed Esther Rantzen. “We still love Keith very dearly and we want him to be happy in his own way.”
I hope a lot of families with gay children were watching this programme —it would have inspired and reassured them and provided proof that parents can understand, even though, on the surface, they might seem completely anti-gay.
On the day President Reagan was celebrating his re-election by saying (for the twentieth time) “You ain’t seen nothing yet”, there was another celebration going on in the U.S. of A. to prove him right. A report in THE STANDARD says the Los Angeles suburb of West Hollywood has declared itself to be America’s first homosexually-control-led city. The 36,000 inhabitants voted two-to-one to create the new city and install lesbian activist Valerie Terrigno as the new mayor.
So, you see, geriatric religious maniacs are not the only ones who can manage a landslide victory in the madness that is America.