When reading through these pieces, please bear in mind the period in which they were written. Sometimes the language and attitudes of the time will make a modern reader wince. I have left them unchanged (except for the occasional spelling correction) to reflect the evolution of the way we have come to regard ourselves. The later columns may not be exactly as they appeared in print – I have used what was submitted rather than what was published, and the editor may have made minor changes. Mostly, though, my copy was printed without editorial interference.
Boy George, the androgynous singer with Culture Club, is driving tabloids crazy. His sexual ambiguity gets the feature writers in right old tizzy. Is his close companion male or female? His ex-boyfriend Marilyn just adds to the confusion.
The Daily Mirror even went so far as to write an editorial telling Boy George to have his hair cut and don a three-piece suit. If he abandoned his make up, they said, he’d be much happier.
I wonder if they mean he’d be happier or they’d be happier?
Keep ‘em guessing Boy George.
Elsa Lanchester, speaking to THE GUARDIAN, said that she found out about husband Charles Laughton’s homosexuality a few months after they were married.
With unusual compassion and amazing strength, she remained married to the star of Mutiny on the Bounty and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, simply because he was a wonderful friend and companion. She enjoyed her men friends and allowed Charles to enjoy his.
As she said several times during the interview, there was no-one in those days she could talk to about it.
Thank goodness all that has changed now and people in her position can get a sympathetic ear almost anywhere.
In an extraordinary article in THE SPECTATOR, somebody called Jeffrey Bernard offers the opinion that: “the decline in the quality of queers dates from the time gay became their title.”
He goes on to relate how, in his youth, he would attach himself to lonely and frightened gay men and get money from them by flaunting his “delinquent looks that queers fancy so much.” For all the money, favours and holidays he received, Jeffrey Bernard just prick-teased his victims whilst despising and ridiculing them.
Mr Bernard thinks we should revert to using “queer” and “poof” to describe ourselves because “gay is what I am after four or five large ones.”
Listen, any youth who persistently importunes gay men, excites them, flirts with them and then, at the crucial moment, tries to say that he is “an obsessional heterosexual” has got to be suffering from a serious psycho-sexual problem.
And while we’re on the subject of calling a spade a spade, how about Mr Bernard being honest about himself? Didn’t his activities, in fact, make him a prostitute?
Following the success of their recent feature about gay men who came out to their parents, THE SUN now gives us “My Daughter is a Gay”.
As the title implies, this time it concentrated on the reactions of parents to the knowledge that their daughters were dykes.
One has to be fair and say that the article wasn’t bad. In fact, rumour has it that THE SUN is making an effort to recognise and cater for its gay audience. This hasn’t been reflected in the editorial department yet, but perhaps we can look forward to a better deal from Bouverie Street? [Note: At that time, The Sun was produced in Bouverie Street, London EC4]
Gerald Priestland, the former BBC religious affairs correspondent, devoted his recent “Priestland’s Postbag”(Radio 2) to homosexuality. In this five-minute homily he got off to a good start by telling us: “Homosexuality is not a subject that interests me because I have no experience of it.”
This admission did not prevent him trotting out the full repertoire of established Christian complacence:
“Sometimes bankers or lawyers want to dress up in kinky clothes, but they have the good manners to keep it to themselves, they don’t force it on me,” he said. “It’s right that Christians should be merciful now, but I do wish the word gay still had its original meaning… blah, blah, blah.” Well, you’ve heard it all before, about twenty years ago.
He ended up by admitting he found homosexual acts “ludicrous and distasteful.”
Fine, he’s entitled to his opinion, smug though it be. But there’s a strange callousness about Mr Priestland’s tone which I find hard to accept, especially as he purports to be concerned with the major social issues of the day.
Are we to assume, for instance, that because we have no experience of starvation, we need not take seriously the situation in the third world? That seems to be Mr Priestland’s message.
THE DAILY EXPRESS informed us that Sting, lead singer with the rock group Police, was very “hot” during a recent concert in Germany. Wishing to communicate to his audience this fact, Sting said: “Ich bin warm.” This, in fact, means “I am gay”.
Can we take it, then, that Sting considers himself to be a hot, gay man, or was it all a dreadful mistake, as THE EXPRESS would have us believe?
According to THE SUNDAY TIMES, the Kincora Boys Home scandal, which has been on the verge of breaking for some years now, seems to have died the death.
This will be bad news for THE SUN and other papers that thrive on ‘homosexual scandals’ because this one had, potentially, all the right ingredients.
The Kincora Boys Home is in East Belfast and there were dark mutterings some time ago that boy prostitution ring had been in operation there.
That would have been juicy enough but better still, word had it that this vice ring had been used by senior civil servants and army officers. The icing on the cake was that the Royal Ulster Constabulary were accused of covering the whole thing up. Even Ian Paisley was in there somewhere.
Now a report by Sir George Terry, former Chief Constable of Sussex, says that the allegations were “totally unfounded”.
I think this is the best solution. Not only does it prevent unscrupulous politicians from publicly smearing their opponents (no proof needed, a mere accusation would be enough to do the damage), it also takes away the opportunity for the Fleet Street Bingo Cards to rehash the ‘gay corruption’ angle yet again.
There can be no doubt that homosexuality played a part in the life of Dennis Nilsen and in the deaths of his victims. [Note: Dennis Nilsen was a notorious serial killer who murdered at least 12 young gay men between 1978 and 1983 in London].
But, my, oh my, what a squalid picture the papers painted of gay lie in London following Nilsen’s trial.
Those without knowledge of the gay scene would be alarmed and sickened by the images created in the press. The media would have us believe the scene consisted entirely of innocent young boys from the provinces being preyed on by evil men in the capital. “There are middle-aged homosexual sharks, who know that to homeless young lads, seduction might seem a small price to pay for a few nights in a warm bed,” wrote Jeremy Sandford in THE DAILY MAIL.
Nobody is trying to pretend that this sort of thing doesn’t happen. Nilsen has illustrated that it does. But it goes on much less than they imply and the consequences are rarely so horrendous.
And anyway, whose fault is it if there are so many vulnerable young people walking the streets of London with no home, no money and few prospects?
No indication was given in the media that there is another gay scene — vibrant, lively and perfectly innocent — existing in London. The picture that emerged was relentlessly sordid.
And then there was the constant harping on the fact that Nilsen was homosexual/bisexual/ transvestite/necrophiliac (depending on which paper you read). The repeated connection made between homosexuality and dangerous madness (“The homosexual mass-killer” —DAILY EXPRESS; “Gay lovers macabre tale” —SUN) was alarming, if predictable.
As in the Brighton-PIE case, when it was assumed that all gay men are child-molesters, the Nilsen incident implied we were all potential mass killers or pathetic, inadequate drifters inhabiting, a squalid world of “seedy pubs” and doss-houses.
Perhaps the worst example of sensationalism at our expense was in The Daily Star: “Wearing heavy make-up, skirts and high heels, he would prowl the notorious Soho gay bars and clubs,” it leered. Then it went on to make a tenuous connection between Nilsen and David Martin. [Note: David Martin was a notorious criminal who reputedly carried out burglaries dressed in women’s clothes.]
According to The Daily Star Nilsen was ‘in love’ with Martin, even though they met only momentarily whilst on remand and then under the scrutiny of jailers. (“They were never alone, they met under the watchful eyes of prison officers.”) However, the paper manages to suggest that somehow the two men had a sexual relationship.
The ‘posh’ papers resisted the appeal of easy thrills and concentrated mainly on the contradictory psychiatric evidence.
Only the communist Morning Star turned the tables and repeatedly referred to “ex-probationary policeman Nilsen”.
Maybe it would be nearer the truth to suggest that Nilsen’s time in the army and police force did more to prepare him for his callous murders than did his gayness.
Homosexuality is not the culprit in this depressing case any more than heterosexuality was for The Yorkshire Ripper. But did you ever see Peter Sutcliffe referred to as the heterosexual serial killer? No, neither did I.
The usual way for the posh Sunday papers to review gay books is with an irritating tone of world-weary patronisation. How refreshing, therefore, to read Paul Bailey’s crit of ‘Mae West is Dead’ in The Observer.
Not only does he give the book a studied and comprehensive analysis, he also tells us why he is qualified to do so: “Thirty years ago, when I was coming to terms with the fact that I was ‘one of those’ nobody … talked openly about homosexuality.”
Nice one, Paul, I’ll even go out and buy the book.
I will not, however, be bothering with ‘Three Literary Friendships’ reviewed in The Sunday Times. Here the know-it-all-seen-it-all attitude re-surfaces, and as if to reassure us how sophisticated he is, critic Peter Ackroyd wallows in all the negative aspects of the friendships. This is particularly true of the section on the love affair between the poets Verlaine and Rimbaud. Ackroyd says of them: “If their destiny was the gutter that was because the gutter was the place they felt most at ease.”
Makes you want to puke, doesn’t it?
The deaths of two gay actors last month got much media coverage.
The inquest on Peter Arne, murdered by one of his casual pickups, ensured that the lurid details of his private life were dragged up. Poor Peter did not make a dignified final exit, and the papers ensured that everyone knew about it.
Peter Dudley (Bert Tilsley from Coronation Street), on the other hand, was accorded a fond farewell. THE SUN carried several photographs of the funeral, including one of a grief-stricken young man described as ‘a friend’ being comforted by Cheryl Murray (Suzy Birchal in The Street). THE SUN managed to mention Peter’s cottaging conviction only once, which for them must have been quite an effort.
D.B. LINE of Ashford, Kent wrote a letter to The Police Review attacking the idea of gay men as police officers: “May the service be ‘merry’ but not ‘gay’ and remain a service that can be respected by all walks of life. Gone, perhaps, is the Dock Green image of Jack Warner, but please don’t taint our image further.”
I don’t think the police need gay men to taint their image, D.B. Line, they are making a pretty good job of it themselves.
More and more medical staff are refusing to handle the bodies of AIDS victims in case they get “the gay plague” (as several newspapers continue to call it).
The latest horror is the refusal of a pathologist, Professor Keith Simpson, to carry out a post-mortem on Stewart Thompson-Neill who died at Whipps Cross, Hospital, London.
In its coverage of the story, The Daily Mails says starkly, “AIDS is a disease carried by homosexuals.”
If the hysteria persists (and how can it do otherwise when fuelled by such emotive press coverage), how long will it be before AIDS victims are turned away from hospitals altogether?
It’s time for a bit of calm discussion in the media about what is actually known about AIDS. Or is calling for a bit of restraint from our press just asking for too much?
I used to work in a psychiatric hospital where one of the patients thought he was a messenger of God and claimed to speak with divine authority. He was kept locked away because people thought he was mad.
Now I hear of a similar case in Italy (courtesy of The Daily Express). There’s an old chap there purporting to be speaking with holy inspiration. The difference between the two cases is that everyone felt sorry for the first, but several million people actually listen to and approve of the second.
I’m talking about His Holiness, of course, and far be it from me to be disrespectful, but his latest pathetic pontiff-ication is sheer Papal Bull.
He trots out the same old half-baked ideas as before. Homosexuals are more to be pitied than blamed, but just in case some of you Quest members were under the impression that jolly John Paul was about to sanction your practices, you can forget it. [Note: Quest was a group for gay Catholics.]
Homosexuality, as far as the Vatican is concerned, is still a first-league sin. So, those of you who’ve been up to your tricks had better get straight down to confession and tell all.
In The Mail on Sunday, Peter McKay reports on a revolting Washington DC disc jockey called Gary D. Not only was his programme blatantly racist, he referred to homosexuals as “faggots”, “queers” and, mysteriously, “bedwetters”.
He was sacked from the radio station KIX Country and, you would have thought, good riddance. But horror of horrors, there were hundreds of protest calls — not complaining about his remarks (“Get your guns and kill a commie today”) but about the fact that he had been fired.
Not to be outdone, this repugnant redneck has now dedicated his life to “finding a cure for homosexuality.”
He should be careful that homosexuals don’t take his advice — and their guns — and find a cure for him.
I was hoping upon hope that The Sun was changing its tune when it came to its attitude to gays, but I have to retire disappointed to the blue corner.
It recently printed one of the crudest smear-jobs on the Greenham Peace Women I’ve yet seen (“Four out of five are lesbians”) which insisted that because most of the women are gay their opinions can be safely ignored.
It followed this up with a news item “Go-go girls threatened by lesbians” about a protest by women at Glasgow University. It used phrases like “butch members of Glasgow Women’s Union” and called the protestors a “lesbian mob”.
It’s an old ploy to label your opponents gay, it negates any message they might be putting across immediately. And so The Sun sinks slowly in the west. If only it would.
Several papers reported that Jeremy Thorpe, “disgraced ex-Liberal leader” might be thinking of a comeback.
I hope he doesn’t. He’s suffered enough humiliation at the hands of the establishment. If he tries to re-enter public life, I fear he is asking for the same again.
“The Voice of the (Sunday) People” raised the terror of the gay menace again recently. This time the object of their righteous fervour was arch-threat to civilization Marilyn.
Marilyn is a transvestite pop singer who performs in drag and slap. He isn’t a very good singer but it isn’t the music the ever-vigilant PEOPLE is worried about, but the “kind of pouting performance you might expect to encounter in a gay bath house in San Francisco.”
Like some kind of time-warp back to the early sixties, Marilyn was criticized by the paper for “thrusting his pelvis” and for giving a “raunchy routine” that was “more sickening than sexy” on Top of The Pops — “a young people’s programme watched by millions of children all over the country.”
This was the editorial comment on a day when the arrival of Cruise missiles was announced, when the situation in Lebanon deteriorated and when the Ministry of Defence were found to be wasting billions of pounds.
As a newspaper, THE SUNDAY PEOPLE would make pretty good papier-mache.
Hands up those who saw the NEWS OF THE WORLD story headlined “Gay Confessions of a Kennel Club Top Dog”? Now hands up those who understand what the hell it was about?
As far as I could make out, Major Charles Carmichael was sacked from his job as secretary of the Kennel Club because he had sex with a 12-year-old boy some ten years ago. The Major, a born-again Christian, felt the need to “purge himself”.
But why he made his confession at a publicity lunch of the Kennel Club wasn’t clear, and where the blind girl and the faith healer fitted in was equally obscure.
However, there were a couple of quotes that wouldn’t have been out of place in one of Joe Orton’s loopy comedies.
“The Lord let me know clearly he was sending me to the Kennel Club so I would be witness to his glory,” the Major is reported as saying. “I have purged myself. I was only a closet gay and the incident with the 12-year old did not involve full intercourse.”
Major Carmichael is, by the way, a member of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship. Confused? You’re not the only one.
Dr Goebbels was Hitler’s minister for propaganda. It was his job to twist, distort and invent news and create government-approved opinion in the minds of the German people.
If he had been alive today it’s likely he would be editing the London EVENING STANDARD.
This detestable paper has such a consistent policy of misrepresenting groups it judges to be “dissident” that it must be regarded as nothing but a mouth-piece for the establishment. It operates just like Pravda in Russia, telling its readers only what the regime wants them to know.
Gays are frequent victims of the smearing campaigns — as are CND, the GLC and the Greenham Peace Women.
Recently the GLC made a grant to the London Gay Teenage Group. THE STANDARD blasted the news with three-inch headlines: “Rates Grant for Teenage Gays.” It went into detail about the objections raised by the seemingly permanently ‘outraged’ Tories on the GLC. It did not mention why the grant was given or needed.
However, a few days earlier the GLC had made a grant to a half-way house for rehabilitating mental patients back into the community: this is an area the Tories have neglected scandalously. The grant was ten times the size of the one given to the gay teenagers. THE STANDARD gave the story three paragraphs on the last news page.
It is THE STANDARD which is almost totally responsible for creating the myth that the GLC gives away half its rates to gays. Neither the Nazis nor the Kremlin would be unfamiliar with THE STANDARD’S tactics.
At last a little bit of sanity in the matter of caring for AIDS victims.
Following the hysterical refusal of a Home Office Coroner to do a post mortem on a suspected AIDS death, the Royal College of Nursing’s Margaret Lee said in the college’s newspaper: “As a profession which says nursing is exclusively our prerogative, we can’t suddenly opt out because of our taboos and fears.”
It takes people with real dedication to talk like that. Are you listening Professor Keith Simpson?
IN 1978 a man called Dan White marched into City Hall, San Francisco and murdered the Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, the city’s first elected “out” gay official. White was given a seven-year jail sentence and, by the time you read this, he will have been released.
In The Observer William Scobie tells of the feelings of fury still fermenting in the Castro area of San Francisco, the famous gay ghetto. “The wounds are still fresh, still festering,” said Harry Britt, a gay activist who took over Harvey Milk’s seat on the board. “White is a walking provocation if he stays here.”
White’s derisory sentence for such a cold-blooded and calculated double-murder underlines the frightening corruption that seems endemic in American public life.
I hate retribution and feel that revenge only degrades — but if this swaggering murderer were to be picked off by some vengeful homosexual I would shed tears only for a gay brother who felt driven to such an act.
The Daily Mirror reports that Mrs Mary Whitehouse won ‘substantial’ libel damages against the Observer because it published an extract from a book which said “she was the sort of person who would have been at home in Nazi Germany.”
I, of course, have nothing to add.
In a superb feature in The New Statesman, ex-Gay News literary editor Alison Hennegan exposes the hypocrisy at work in the world of literature and literary criticism.
She tells of how, when she worked on the old Gay News, she would approach well-known writers whom she knew to be gay and ask them to contribute. Desperately afraid that their reputations would be ‘tainted’ they invariably refused.
She also tackles the old chestnut of our choice of the word ‘gay’ to describe ourselves. “‘Gay’ and ‘lesbian’ say quite clearly that sex is always political: individuals can never experience it — however passionately they may long to do — in an emotional and moral vacuum insulated from the beliefs, values and conflicts which shape the rest of society.”
Hope New Statesman readers are receptive.
JEAN ROOK (self-appointed First Lady of Fleet Street, but known to her friends as the First Twat of THE DAILY EXPRESS) used her column in THE DAILY EXPRESS to choose Christmas presents for famous people.
For Boy George she would like to give “Girl George”. And if that isn’t nauseating enough she says of Prince Charles: “A night out with the boys — to remind him that he was once one of them…”
Does the crow know something that we don’t?
TENNIS ace Billie Jean King has spoken about the consequences of her 7-year lesbian affair with hairdresser Marilyn Barnett. Unfortunately, Ms King’s only concern seems to be that she lost money by having her image ‘ruined’.
Silly Billie must join the ever-lengthening list of public figures who foolishly imagined that the closet was a safe place to be. It’s only when they’ve been dragged kicking and screaming out into the open that these unfortunate people have to acknowledge that the press is merciless in playing on their dishonesty.
Starting with Oscar Wilde and progressing through Jeremy Thorpe, Commander Tresstrail and Peter Tatchell, who all had to come clean after rather undignified denials, we have a terrifying list of ruined lives and wasted talent.
If Billie Jean and her ilk had been proud of their gayness they might have found some sort of respect for their courage. However, it would be foolish to believe that any public person at present languishing behind a barrier of lies is going to be the first to take the step.
But being up-front in the first place is the only way to rob the media of its gloating exposés.
The West German Government has got itself in a right old pickle over the sacking and then reinstatement of General Gunter Kiessling.
The whole “scandal” hinges on the premise that homosexuality is, per se, a security risk.
Military intelligence reported seeing General Kiessling in two Cologne gay bars. That, believe it or not, is the full extent of his supposed “incriminating”activities.
Was it a KGB plot or back-stabbing bya jealous colleague? THE GUARDIAN and THE DAILY TELEGRAPH have been following the affair with interest. But despite the ludicrous plot-twists, some of which would have been rejected by the writers of Dallas as being too far-fetched even for them, General Kiessling got his pension and ‘honour’ restored intact.
I hope all the people involved in this non-scandal get their fingers badly burned. It’s the least they deserve.
For it is we ordinary gays who have to bear the brunt of the unquestioned assumption that homosexuality is, in itself, justification for ruining a career.
A pox on the lot of them.
In between the apologies, retractions and adjudications from the press council, THE SUN managed to fit in a pathetic story about pop singer Michael Jackson denying “heartbreaking rumours about his sexuality”. “I’m not gay,” he bleats.
Thank gawd for that, says I.
According to THE DAILY MAIL, the Women’s Committee on Islington council have recommended to the government that “male homosexuals be allowed to solicit without fear of prosecution, and for the age of consent for male homosexuals to be lowered to 16.”
Of course the recommendations are part of a wider package including allowing prostitutes to advertise and “brothels to be made legal”.
THE MAIL gave three whole paragraphs to the report – and one of those was given over to SDP Councillor Chris Pryce’s comment: “They’re barmy.”
Of course, THE DAILY MAIL sees it as a duty to distort the report and misrepresent what the women really said. In actual fact the recommendations are simply common sense, an attempt to bring our hypocritical and cruel sex laws into some kind of order. When THE MAIL says the women want gay men to be allowed to “solicit”, they really mean we should be allowed to meet each other without fear of being nabbed by over-zealous rozzers.
Lowering the age of consent is not only reasonable but essential if this country is going to continue to present itself as a defender of human rights.
If the women who seek these changes are “barmy”, you can enrol me into the “loony left” from today. The further I can get from the Repulsive Right, the better.
THE SUNDAY PEOPLE seem to think it scandalous that the crew on the superliner QE2 should have a gay bar for their off-duty hours.
But why the raised eyebrows when a large proportion of the crew are gay?
There are lots of jobs in which gay people predominate — the merchant navy is one, together with catering, hospitals and most of the service industries. Heterosexuals with family commitments are reluctant to take on these careers with their long, irregular hours and periods away from home.
If all the gay labour were withdrawn, the hotel trade, health service and so on would simply collapse.
Why on earth there should be objections to the workers enjoying their leisure in a way appropriate to them beats me.
But the, you can’t really expect THE SUNDAY PEOPLE to make sense.
The word “shame” has been bandied about rather freely in the press over the last couple of weeks. Mostly in connection with convictions for cottaging against two prominent public figures. TV personality Leonard Sachs (74) and MP Dr Roger Thomas both fell victim to the self-righteous activities of the police “loo patrol”. The victims’ agony was compounded by the courts and the humiliation completed by the media.
In my mind the “shame” should fall squarely on the shoulders of the police, the courts and the grotesque newspapers who delight in rubbing salt in the wounds.
What good has come from these incidents? Who benefits? Until the law is changed this sort of wicked and unnecessary persecution will continue to bring “shame” on the whole system, but particularly on newspapers that are not obliged to be involved in it.
Gossip columnists obviously have a hard time filling their columns. Much of their material is weak in the extreme and their ‘wit’ for the most part embarrassing. And nowadays it seems only homosexuality is scandalous enough to raise eyebrows. There are few other subjects ‘gossips’ can sneer at and get away with it.
They’ve had a field day with poor old Elton John. But then, Elton does seem to ask for it. Not happy with just quietly getting married he has to give journalists all the ammunition they need to shoot him down. [Note: Elton John married German recording engineer Renate Blauel on 14 February 1984].
“Straight talking John Smith” in The Sunday People started his item with the hilariously witty and original “Oh my goodness, what a gay day”, and to prove what a wag he is he included the phrase “good on yer, yer pommy poofter”.
William Hickey in THE DAILY EXPRESS headed his tribute “Elton and The Boys He Leaves Behind-which managed to avoid the libelous while leaving little of Elton’s past gay life unexplored.
From other sections of the papers the overwhelming message to Elton was: “We knew you were really one of us all the time. Nice to know you’re normal.”
When, er, I mean if,the marriage ends, Elton is going to reap a nasty harvest from the sick publicity machine he is courting.
Another favourite target for the columnists is Peter Tatchell. Described in THE DAILY MIRROR by the execrable Peter Tory as “an admitted homosexual”.
Tatchell found himself in the limelight again because it is exactly a year since his notorious Bermondsey debacle.
That’s enough for the papers to rake it all over again and throw any residual mud at Tony Benn. Peter Tory, the MIRROR’s ‘gossip’ seemed positively gleeful in reporting that Tatchell had almost been shoved under a bus and threatened with several kinds of death.
Meanwhile, William Hickey again, this time reporting that Gay News has taken a poll in gay circles and found Neil Kinnock to be “man of the year” (a fact which the publisher of GN, raving right-winger Nigel Ostrer wasn’t pleased about). [Note: Nigel Ostrer bought the title Gay News from Denis Lemon after the original folded, but the new version did not last long and the title was sold on to Millivres and was incorporated into Gay Times].
According to Hickey, Neil Kinnock’s reaction on hearing the news was “That’s all I need right now”. There is evidence to suggest that Kinnock is a homophobe — but I still resent Hickey trying to use homosexuality as a chisel to chip away at the Labour leader’s reputation. It seems to be an increasing habit in the press — associate your worst enemy with homosexuality (however vaguely) and hope that his popularity will plummet. The evidence seems to suggest that it doesn’t work anyway.
One person who can’t be caught in that particular trap is Christopher Isherwood. THE STANDARD Diary reports that Isherwood recently met Bob Fosse, the man who turned the book Goodbye to Berlin into the film Cabaret.
Isherwood hated the film because it suggested that there was more to his relationship with the singer Sally Bowles than mere friendship. The irate Isherwood said: “I never slept with a woman in my life.” Hard for THE STANDARD to make innuendo out of anything as plain as that.
THE SUNDAY EXPRESS gossip column, however, carried a cleverly-worded piece about Rock Hudson and his manager Tom Clarke.
Although nothing was said directly, there was enough suggestion and insinuation to get the message over loud and clear.
THE DAILY MIRROR and THE SUN carried the story of the lesbian couple who had been allocated a flat by Hereford Council. THE MIRROR said: “the women are jumping the queue because they are being treated as a married couple.”
But as lesbians can’t get married, there would be no hope of them ever being housed if the MIRROR’s criterion were applied. Never mind, I thought, the councillors in Hereford have their hearts in the right place, and the women have their flat in which to live happily ever after.
But then THE GUARDIAN reported that there was to be a “rethink”. The publicity has been so hysterical that the anti-gay feeling in the Council (orchestrated by a Coun. Bert Evans) resulted in the women being “hounded remorselessly”.
Mr Evans said: “If this goes through we could see an invasion of sexual deviants which would mean that normal people would never get rehoused.”
If Mr Evans thinks Hereford is about to become another San Francisco he can rest in peace. Not many gay people would want to breathe the same air as such a bigoted burgher as he.
LIKE a lot of gay people, I have a great affection for Kenneth Williams. In the closeted sixties, his outrageous Julian and Sandy sketches in Round the Horne were like a lifeline to those of us isolated and alone. We seemed to share with Williams a naughty secret joke that straights could never hope to understand.
You can imagine my horror, therefore, on picking up the NEWS OF THE WORLD colour magazine and seeing our Kenny quoted as saying: “Man is made for woman and anybody who pretends that two men can live together happily like man and wife is talking a load of rubbish. Let’s not kid ourselves, there would no life in that kind of relationship.”
At the beginning of the interview, Mr Williams proclaims: “I am a cult” although I’m not sure he’s spelt it right
And like a vision from heaven to prove Kenneth Williams wrong, Sir Angus Wilson and Tony Garrett, his lover of 32 years, put their relationship in front of the TV cameras in THE OTHER HALF (BBC1). It turned out to be a loving, giving partnership with lots of humour and a good deal of quiet contentment.
The other nice thing about this programme was that it explored the texture and workings of a gay relationship rather than presenting another heavy tract on the nature and tragedy of homosexuality.
Sir Angus said he didn’t feel the need to wear a badge saying “I’m homosexual.”
He went one better and declared it on prime time television. In doing so he rendered a great service to the gay community.
In Mary Kenny’s attempted hatchet job on The National Council for Civil Liberties [Note: Now called simply “Liberty”] in THE DAIL MAIL she said the NCCL had been greeted on its 50th birthday by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and other “frankly lunatic causes”. She contended that by Mrs Thatcher declining to give her support it must be proof (if any were needed as far as MAIL readers go) that the NCCL is just another group of left-wing, gay-loving maniacs. Ms Kenny says she will believe in the NCCL when it “champions, everybody’s rights”.
This apparently, includes The National Front, Ku Klux Klan and others with murder in their hearts. Ms Kenny wants freedom for “racists to be racists” — as long as they are peaceful. Yes, the National Front is noted for its peacefulness, isn’t it?
The NCCL has consistently championed gay rights and maintained a justified watch on the police. It is an essential organisation in these times of rapidly diminishing personal liberty.
Peter Adamson, ex-Len Fairclough of Coronation Street, wrote a series of exposés in THE NEWS OF THE WORLD telling earth-shattering “secrets” of life backstage at Granada. There was an awful lot of schoolboy-type sniggering about tits, bums, lavatories and rather childish horseplay.
His memories of Peter Dudley, who played Bert Tilsley, were hardly surprising. He reveals that Peter was a “cottager” and a “harmless homosexual.”
A more tawdry set of memoirs would be difficult to imagine.
THE OBSERVER reports on the Earls Court ‘pretty police’, those power-crazed morons who go to sinister lengths in their efforts to destroy the lives of innocent people.
The police officers involved wear provocative clothes, hang about well-known gay pubs, make the first move, talk dirty, and when their victim responds, arrest him.
At one of the notorious trials earlier this year, the judge said that it was clear that someone was lying. The counsel representing the police naturally said it was the defendant and that if it were to be the policemen who were telling porkies, then “they shouldn’t be police officers, put should be in prison.”
The juries found the defendants not guilty in five of the six cases. It follows that either the juries were extremely stupid or that the police were lying.
So why aren’t these police officers in prison? Do they have immunity from the laws of perjury?
Scotland Yard told THE OBSERVER that there was to be no enquiry and no disciplinary action against the oath-breaking officers.
Listen, whenever gay people complain to the Press Council about the insulting things Fleet Street say about us, the Council invariably replies “Newspapers have a right to express their opinions forcefully.”
Alright — my opinion is that the West London police officers involved in these scandalous cases are liars, cheats and a menace to decent people. Is that forceful enough?
THE SUNDAY PEOPLE advise us that “like any loving mum, Mrs Katherine Jackson has sprung to the defence of her ‘little boy’ Michael, the hottest name in pop. “People say he’s gay, but he isn’t. It’s against religion, against God and the Bible speaks against it.”
Listen Mrs Jackson, if your little boy with his pill-popping, hormone-injecting, face-lifting, ageing juvenile lifestyle is “normal”, I thank Christ I ain’t.
One of the most frightening things I’ve read this month was in London’s listing magazine TIME OUT. During an investigation into the effects of ‘video nasties’ on young people, the TO reporter asked a pair of lads what they had found most disturbing about their viewing of videos.
After describing various disembowellings, torture and rape, they eventually said that the only thing that had turned their stomach had been the “gay wedding where two men kissed each other.”
A chilling prospect for the future of gay rights. Or could this youthful homophobia be just a phase that this upcoming generation will grow out of?
THE SUN says that Radio One’s newest DJ Dixie Peach will be featuring record requests and dedications from gay people. Rapidly assuring us that “he’s not gay himself”, Dixie say rather patronisingly, “I’ll have a small spot for lovers of dedications on my new programme and I’d like response from gay people because they are very much part of our society.”
So come on, you gay lovers, put Dixie to the test.
Is William Hickey going gay? I’m sure this is a question that has been exercising your mind over the last couple of months (unless, of course, you had something more important to do — cutting your toenails, perhaps?)
Anyway, the DAILY EXPRESS gossip columnist has been deluging his readers with a torrent of gay news recently. Did you know, for instance, that all four TV channels turned down the opportunity to screen a tribute to Noel Coward? “The Establishment has always been slightly shifty about acknowledging Cowards’ talent because of his homosexuality,” Hickey says.
He then informs us that that well-known fag-hag the Queen Mother will be unveiling a plaque to Coward in Westminster Abbey and the Drury Lane tribute will star Sirs Gielgud, Attenborough and Mills. Hardly what you’d call an “alternative” event.
In the following day’s paper, Mr Hickey returned to one of his favourite topics: Peter Tatchell. Apparently, Peter has been seen emerging from The Hippodrome nightclub on its Monday gay night. “The idea of two men on the dance-floor together — will you lead or shall I? — isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But Tatchell stands firm, even when anti-gays push him off his bike and threaten him with worse,” writes Sweet William.
You know, Mr Hickey. I’m getting worried about you. One of these days. You’ll turn up in John St Clair’s column and what would Nigel Dempster make of that? [Note: John St Clair was HIM’s own gossip columnist.]
THE OBSERVER gives frightening statistics from America about the increasing incidence of AIDS in San Francisco. “On the campus at Stanford University a group of statues has been damaged by a man with a hammer. The figures show two men together and two women, also together, in affectionate poses.” It is rumoured that the vandal is a gay AIDS victim who was “demonstrating his despair”.
Ames Murray, TV editor of THE DAILY EXPRESS wrote a piece about the Channel Four series Jesus: The Evidence. There are assertions by experts, he says, that “Christ, if he existed, may have engaged in secret rituals attended by homosexuals.”
Wow and double-wow! And then, with incredible arrogance, he says: “Christ blessed thieves and prostitutes — so what’s so surprising that homosexuals might have been present?”
The stupid naivity seems to know no bounds. Does Mr Murray imagine for one moment that all those camp old twats who dress up in frocks and jewels to revel in rituals and ceremonies in the Church are all 100% heterosexual?
Believe me, outside a Busby Berkeley musical there isn’t anywhere except the church where queens can camp it up so outrageously.
Except for an Agenda article by Andrew Lumsden and a couple of letters in the GUARDIAN, I could find no mention in the national papers of the worrying raid on Gay’s the Word bookshop.
The only other references I could find in the straight press were an article by Alison Hennegan in THE NEW STATESMAN and a news story in THE BOOKSELLER. With her usual perceptiveness, Alison Hennegan identified the reasons for the proliferation of gay literature over the last couple of years: “It has sprung from one overriding need: a hunger for truth after so many lies; and a determination that having once found the truth we would never again lose it to those with a vested interest in suppressing or controlling access to it.”
THE BOOKSELLER quotes Peter Strauch, department manager of Dillon’s University Bookshop: “We have been ordering books from American publishers for a considerable number of years, including titles stocked at Gay’s the Word. Other central London bookshops have also imported and sold these titles for a long time.”
Given this, isn’t it strange that Gay’s the Word should be singled out for special treatment by HM Customs and Excise?
Only when these book-burning philistines visit Foyles and remove their imports will I believe that the raid is anything other than a direct strike at gay communications.
The Tory-inspired DAILY EXPRESS just can’t leave Ken Livingstone alone. Their latest piece of crude propaganda was headed “The Great Dictator” and written by Peter Grosvenor. “Would Londoners, now paying rates for daft schemes to support gay movements, have voted so convincingly for Labour had they known Red Ken would be running the city?”
The answer to that, Mr Grosvenor, according to the latest opinion polls, is an overwhelming YES. So stuff that up your nostrils and sniff it.
As for Red Ken himself, well he refuses to back down on his support for gay rights simply for the sake of political expediency. He is reported in THE STANDARD as saying: “Being gay or Lesbian is natural for gay men and lesbians. This needs to be understood by the heterosexual majority. The GLC has endeavoured to recognise this in its policy.”
Obviously the Tories and their Fleet Street toe-rags don’t take easily to common-sense logic.
THE NEW YORK TIMES ran a major feature entitled “For Victims of AIDS, Support is a Lonely Siege.” It described the work of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a research, support and campaigning group in America.
On the one hand, writer Larry Kramer says: “We’re more responsible. Everyone in the gay community realises now that homosexuality is defined by more than what you do sexually. Being gay is a cultural tradition, a heritage to be proud of.”
But on the other hand, there is growing evidence of a drift back into the old ways of bath houses, cruising, sexual partnerings running into many hundreds and all the other things that seem, on current evidence, to encourage the spread of AIDS.
The Gay Men’s Health Crisis is receiving 30 calls a week from newly diagnosed AIDS victims. They think it highly likely that as many as 30,000 more cases are, at this moment incubating.
Depressing stuff indeed.
Writing in WOMAN magazine, ‘royal-watcher’ Anthony Holden says “the strains of the last 18 months are beginning to show on the Queen’s face.”
Part of the strain was the resignation of Commander Tresstrail “in disgrace” after his homosexuality was revealed.
Never mind the Queen, what I want to know is how Commander Tresstrail’s face is faring under the strain he’s been exposed to after his cruel and unnecessary martyrdom by the media monsters?
And if she was so concerned, why didn’t Her Majesty utter a single word in his defence?
Spike Milligan wrote a letter to NEW SOCIETY suggesting that “parliament should set up a central screening bureau for would-be parents. It would look into people’s records to see if they are drunks, criminals, violent and whether they can support a family.” He says: “Children are being born to drunks, drug addicts, masochists, sadists and even in the bizarre context of lesbians…”
Now hold on a minute Mr Milligan. Am I wrong in saying that you’ve spent more time than most in mental institutions suffering from manic depression? Isn’t your rather unstable state of mind well chronicled? But I can find no evidence of restraint on your part when it came to parenthood.
Many lesbians make exemplary parents and to have their parenthood dismissed by the increasingly unfunny Mr Milligan is, to put it mildly, stark, staring mad.
THE SUN (described by another Fleet Street journal as a “yobbo paper”) lived up to its image when reporting the attack on pop star Marilyn in Australia.
Marilyn was beaten up in a gay bar out there. THE SUN gleefully splashed it across the front page, with the comment from the Aussie police chief: “He isn’t seriously hurt — all he needs is a powder puff.”
But as far as gay-bashing goes, the antipodean thug still has a long way to go before he can equal the editor of THE SUN.
THE whingeing Michael Jackson is still going on about how gay he isn’t. After getting his mother to reassure the loyal fans that her weird son was not homosexual (on the grounds it was against religion), we now have his doctor making the same assertion in THE SUN.
All right, Michael. I believe it. The question is: do you?
Homosexuality has definitely been flavour-of-the month as far as the media is concerned. And, in the main, it has been sympathetic coverage.
The Keith Hampson affair, coinciding as it did with a parliamentary debate on the subject, ensured maximum exposure for the ugly ‘pretty police’.
But did all this attention really make any difference to the situation? Well, perhaps the promise from the Metropolitan Police to “tighten up the rules” is pretty meaningless, but, as far as public opinion goes, I think we have made major inroads.
It was interesting to see how various papers treated the issue. According to THE SUNDAY MIRROR: “Police deny claims often made in clubs that they act as decoys to trap gays.” Whilst on the same day in THE OBSERVER: “Police sources said the decision to use agent provocateurs was taken at a very high level.”
The commentators were unanimously favourable in their support for an end to entrapment. It was as though someone had, at last, shouted foul! and all the media gurus joined in the call for fair play.
Lynda Lee-Potter in THE DAILY MAIL said: “If the destruction of Dr Keith Hampson MP’s career results in ending the vendetta against homosexuals which the police have been conducting for years, possibly one iota of good will emerge from this sad and sorry case.”
John Vincent in THE SUN wrote: “As the police know full well, the real crime that worries the public is out on the streets. For most people safety on public transport and in their homes comes before private morals.” Even the ghastly Woodrow Wyatt in THE NEWS OF THE WORLD managed to admit that he had “no room to cast stones” and ruminated on how the sex drive can “make worthy and sensible men behave like lunatics.”
THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH carried a large and sympathetic piece entitled Law, Liberty and the Homosexual in which Paul Williams explored the gay world and its reaction to police activities.
Ken Livingstone was reported in the LONDON EVENING STANDARD as saying: “I think it is absolutely monstrous that in a city where mugging, burglary and rape are the main concern, we have police officers wasting their time around gay bars, waiting for someone to pinch their bums.”
And even the normally vituperative SCOTSMAN managed to say: “Just as in the era before homosexual law reform, the blackmailer was generally regarded with greater detestation than his homosexual victim, so in today’s different moral climate the police agent provocateur might be more generally disliked than the homosexual he arrests.”
I hate to return to the distasteful subject of DAILY EXPRESS gossip William Hickey, but his recent spiteful anti-gay tirades have been too much to ignore.
First, he set about trying to destroy the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality. He did this by publishing the names of those Tory MPs brave enough to offer themselves as vice-presidents of the group. This was supposed to be some sort “expose”, but the story amounted to nothing but spite, malice and ill-intention.
But he went one better a few days later by calling on Sir Peter Hayman, the elderly diplomat recently fined for cottaging, to surrender his knighthood. Or better still — in Hickey’s book — the Queen should take it away from him.
It took a pretty heartless bastard to write, as Hickey did: “After treachery one might suppose that fiddling about in public lavatories is only one down the scale in bringing dishonour to honours.”
He wrote this about an old man who has given most of his life to the faultless service of his country.
If Hickey knows what shame is, I hope he’s hanging his head at this very moment.
REPORTING that Tory MP Richard Alexander had resigned from the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality (see previous item) THE SUNDAY MIRROR says: “Mr Alexander stressed that he did not practise the group’s activities.”
Eh? Can we just have a re-run of that? …”he did not practise the group’s activities.”
Like what — licking envelopes? Organising meetings? Lobbying parliament?
Or does the CGHE have livelier ‘activities’ than we know about?
In an astonishing about-face, Sir John Junor, editor of THE SUNDAY EXPRESS and long-time critic of gay rights, has actually admitted that gays are often treated unjustly.
He was commenting upon the case of Richard Longstaff, who emigrated from England to the USA in 1966 and has now been denied American citizenship because he failed to declare his homosexuality on his original visa application all those years ago. “I hardly go singing and dancing in the streets in favour of the Gay Liberation movement,” writes JJ, “But isn’t it a little tough that someone who cannot be blamed for having been born the way he is should be victimised for not having had the courage to give a truthful answer to a humiliating question put to him when he was little more than a child?”
You’re making progress, Sir John. But hasn’t it dawned on you yet that America isn’t the only country that persecutes homosexuals?
Why not drop a line to your friend Margaret Thatcher. She can give you all the details.
According to THE SUN, ITV has sold The Benny Hill show to Russia. But the Soviets insist that all references to homosexuality be deleted from the shows.
It would be nice to think that the Russians didn’t want to insult the sensibilities of their gay citizens by exposing them to Hill’s vulgar and unfunny jibes. But the truth is more likely to be that they want to keep alive the myth that homosexuality does not exist in the USSR.
Whatever the benefits the revolution brought to the people of the Soviet Union, gays were, as they are everywhere else, excluded from enjoying them.
That haven of tolerance and love, Belfast, has, according to THE SUNDAY NEWS, been up in arms at the idea of Man Around’s gay holidays being made available to Ulster homosexuals.
“DUP leaders lashed out at the ‘filthy’ holidays,” the paper says, and with unusual restraint Assemblyman Wesley Pentland said: “Package holidays for homosexuals are dirty, deplorable, filthy, anti-God and unscriptural.”
Whereas East Belfast MP Peter Robinson said: “I’d like to send perverts and degenerates on a one-way trip to gay resorts.”
Believe me, if I lived in Belfast, I’d be the first one knocking on Mr Robinson’s door begging for that one-way ticket. Anything to get away from the poisoned minds and soiled mouths of these ga-ga men of god.
“Straight Talking John Smith” in THE SUNDAY PEOPLE chides the homosexual community for “hijacking another perfectly decent English word.” He refers to ‘pink’, telling readers that there is a ‘pink’ economy. And the money spent in this twilight world is known as the ‘pink pound’.
“Thus tainted,” he says, “the word pink will take on a simpering new significance far removed from its original intent.”
Well, as you’re so fond of straight talking, why don’t you take back all the words you and your wonderful kind have lumbered us with in the past? To start with you can have “queer” and “puff” and “fairy” and “nancy” and all the other perfectly innocent words you’ve corrupted in your sickening attempts to insult and belittle us.