HIM 63, November 1983

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.

HIM 68, April 1984

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.

HIM/GAY TIMES 74, October 1984

An horrendous report in THE EALING AND CHISWICK GUARDIAN tells of the two gay guys who dared to kiss each other in the street. They were promptly arrested and hauled before Marlborough Street Magistrates Court. The police claimed they had received complaints about the men kissing from a straight couple. According to PC Martin Holden, the young male half of this allegedly affronted couple approached the canoodling gays and said: “You filthy beasts, how dare you do that in front of my girlfriend.” The accused said no such incident took place, there was no couple and no complaint.

So, who exactly were the affronted couple? What were their names and why weren’t they in court to support PC Holden’s evidence?

The defence suggested that PC Holden invented the couple and that they were, in fact, a figment of his imagination. PC Holden denied this, but could not produce a scrap of evidence to support his claim.

Who would you believe? And, more importantly, who did the magistrate believe?

Needless to say, the men were convicted of “insulting behaviour” and their names and address were printed in the paper.

Do you remember the story of Pinocchio? Well, I don’t know how long PC Martin Holden’s nose was, but I’ll bet it’s a hell of a lot longer since this case.


It seems that straights are trying to commandeer Camp and claim it as their very own. In a new book called simply ‘Camp’ author Philip Core tries to extend the concept right out of recognition. But it takes gays to show how it’s really done. Like the anecdote quoted in THE LONDON EVENING STANDARD’s review of ‘Camp’. Tallulah Bankhead the famed Hollywood lesbian “Was at a New York wedding when a cardinal passed her in full regalia swinging a smoking censer. As he passed Tallulah remarked: ‘Darling your drag is divine, but your purse is on fire.’” Delicious.


Do you remember the legendary Alan Whicker programme that suggested gays were welcome in San Francisco’s police force? I always had my doubts about its veracity, and now I’m sure it was just a propaganda exercise.

According to THE SUN a “gay cop” called Paul Siedler was seen on a TV newsreel kissing one of the male participants in this year’s San Francisco Gay Pride March, which he was marshalling. “Shocked police chiefs were checking if there are grounds for dismissal,” says the SUN.

I knew it all along. Pigs are pigs the world over.


An item in THE MAIL ON SUNDAY reads: “Miners at Shoreham power station thought they had the perfect spot to picket — it overlooked the nudist beach. Then they discovered all the naturists were gay.”

Is it supposed to be funny? Perhaps they forgot to print some of it . . .


Get the smelling salts for Her ‘Majesty. Pass Lady Windermere her fan! The shadow of homosexuality has been cast over the cult of Princess Diana! No, it seems her step-brother Adam Shand Kydd has written a novel with gay heroes. Not that he is gay himself, of course, God forbid! “The 29-year old bachelor” says (in MIDWEEK magazine): “It’s not a gay novel, but what can you do if people slam labels on you? I chose a homosexual couple because I find it impossible to write convincingly about women — what makes their minds tick over.”

Breathe easy, your Ladyship — there’s no real taint.

But what’s this in THE SUN — Prince Andrew (he’s the rather fat boy who looks like a chimpanzee) almost went to Heaven, yes THE Heaven where the gay brotherhood gathers. Only when his bodyguard forbade the visit did Andrew think again.

But if Andy thinks he’s randy, he might meet his match within the portals of Heaven.


Obituaries of Truman Capote present him as an enigma. A writer who convinced people that he was important, but who didn’t manage to live up to his own hype. An interesting development here is the mention of homosexuality as being a major aspect of his life. How many gays have passed through the obituary columns with their sexuality unmentioned?

THE GUARDIAN says that Capote was “half in and half out of the closet” —a very strange idea because surely there can be no half measures in Coming Out. As Tom Robinson said in the last issue of GAY TIMES, once you’re out, there’s no going back. Anyway, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH said that Capote’s taste in men changed. At first “he liked middle-aged chaps with suits and ties, happy marriages and perhaps a position in the local church”. Later “his taste coarsened” and he went for “simpler men — very simple sometimes”.

The general consensus that Capote’s life was mis-spent and his talent wasted in pursuit of celebrity, riches and pleasure, as THE DAILY MAIL put it it.


Peter Conrad’s review of the books ‘View from Christopher Street’ and ‘Aphrodisiac’ in THE OBSERVER demon­strates an unusual knowledge of gay American history and mores. He gives an interesting analysis of how U.S. gays have split themselves into “fractious cadres, each adhering to its own sartorial character, the old androgynes with their scarves and bangles against the new brutes stomping in work books and hard hats, leather tormentors in harnesses against transvestites, those critics of the macho mystique. Manhattan clones with their lumberjack flannel against those from Chicago who prefer the collegiate look.’

Conrad also identifies the growing distaste for the dehumanising philosophy of “fast-food sex” … “on the corner of Christopher Street where those en route to the disco, roller rink, or the disused warehouse by the river once bought flasks of the aphrodisiac amyl nitrate, volunteers now collect donations for medical research.”


As the world turns to the right (viz Canada electing Tories and President Reagan declaring himself a sort of Christian Ayatollah) we now have news of Australia’s own monstrous Sir Johannes Bjelke-Peterson, premier of Queensland. In an OBSERVER feature this ancient extremist, who has been in power for 16 years. is quoted as regarding homosexuals as “insulting, evil animals”.

He also opposes rights for Aborigines, hates conservation and wants The Great Barrier Reef exploiting for the maximum profit.

He bans street demonstrations by “homosexuals. lesbians, do-gooders, anyone who seeks to improve the lot of Aborigines, political moderates and critics of his wife, Flo.” He also likes to spend taxpayers’ money on aeroplanes for himself.

THE OBSERVER presented the 74-year old Aussie oddball as a corrupt, selfish, intolerant, deeply ignorant man who should never have been allowed anywhere near public office, let alone retain it for 16 years.

Such are the perils of democracy.


Michael Jackson, the hormone-gobbling warbler, is at it again. According to the front page of THE DAILY STAR, Jackson has once more issued a statement “denying rumours that he is gay”. He did it against the wishes of his advisers. I think they were right, be­cause now bad-mouth comedienne Joan Rivers is quoted in THE DAILY MIRROR as saving “Michael Jackson makes Liberace look like a member of the green berets.”

Let’s be honest – he does ask for it.

HIM/GAY TIMES 75, November 1984

“Hooray for Rugby”, yelled THE SUN in its now infamous editorial. But I say Put the Flags out for Islington. For if you were disheartened by the balderdash being served up in the council chamber in Tory-controlled Rugby, you will be cheered to hear of Islington Council’s employment policy, as reported in the LONDON EVENING STANDARD: “All posts are open to lesbians and gay men including those working with children,” said the Labour-controlled council.

“Loony Left, Loony Left”, screamed the critics, like pathetic parrots with their beaks stuck in a groove.

But god, it’s got to be better than the Righteous Right with their one-sided view of democracy. For according to the (Tory) press, Rugby council is carrying out the wishes of the people who elected it. But Islington is seen as “foisting political dogma” on an unsuspecting electorate.

But didn’t the same electoral process produce both councils? If it did, can we expect Mrs Thatcher to abolish it?


There’s nothing quite like the self-congratulatory British concept of “tolerance” to demonstrate hypocrisy at its most refined. Take the case of Oscar Wilde. His “disgrace” in late Victorian England was greeted with glee by the press and the establishment. They took their most brilliant light – creator of the most sublime comedy in the English language – and crushed him in order to satisfy some prurient impulse. (The one Mrs Thatcher wants to restore.)

Even after the trial and imprisonment the degradation continued. THE GUARDIAN reported newly-revealed Home Office papers detailing the circumstances of Wilde’s imprisonment.

The dirty-minded chaplain, W.D. Morrison reported: “I hear and see that perverted sexual practices are again getting the mastery over him.” A load of lurid rubbish as it turned out – the smell that had got the raving reverend’s glands throbbing was no more than Jeyes fluid used to clean the cell. Oscar “suffered dysentery from bad food, developed an abscess in his ear and a perforated ear drum from a fall that was left untreated for nine months.”

Despite pathetic pleas for clemency, he was forced to serve every single day of his two years with hard labour sentence.


They’re still searching for the “cause” of homosexuality. THE GUARDIAN tells of researchers at the State University of New York who have found clear evidence of biological differences between homosexual and heterosexual men – a dissimilar response to certain hormones.

But why are they trying to find a way to tell gay and straight men apart? And if they manage to perfect their techniques, what use will it be put to? I’m sure the personnel department at Rugby Council would find a use for it. And so would Fidel Castro, who has already tried once to clear Cuba of homosexuals.

A grim prospect indeed.


An OBSERVER opinion poll into social attitudes in this country came up with some fascinating results. When asked whether the police “tend to pick on homosexuals”, 10% of those questioned thought they did, Interestingly, when analysed, the results showed that in the 18-24 age group the number who thought the police persecuted gays went up to 13%, but only 5% of pensioners agreed.

Obviously, the younger generation has a more realistic idea of what is going on.


A big review of ‘Pornography’, the latest gay play to be presented at the ICA in London and now touring the country, appeared in THE STAGE. “Loveless promiscuity is not now applauded by no straights. Why then should it be worn like a badge of pride by so many in the gay community? And since it is, is it any wonder that homosexuals are often regarded with contempt rather than concern?” wrote critic Charles Spencer.

There followed a lively correspondence, with David Bulbeck writing in the next issue: “It is untrue… as many gay people do look for love and stable relationships, and it shows a total misunderstanding of gay people and lifestyles.” Whilst Peter Zander wrote: “… each man must find his own pattern. For some that is promiscuity, whether ‘loveless’ as Mr Spencer describes it, or loving. Loving promiscuity? Why not?” Obviously a debate that has only just begun.


Peter Tory, THE DAILY MIRROR’s ill-informed gossip columnist, reported that gay Conservatives “want laws that govern their activities to apply to women as well as men.”

What? The gay Tories want an age of consent of 21 for lesbians? I’m sure that wasn’t what they meant. Mind you, the idea of any homosexual wanting to be a Tory in the first place is so bizarre that such a development wouldn’t surprise me.


THE OBSERVER tells of new research in America which seems to show that AIDS can be transmitted by saliva. Researcher Dr Matilda Krim of the Sloan Kettering cancer centre in New York says: “It is very frightening indeed. Certainly there is now a threat of public persecution of gays who may be accused of being a health risk.” The Observer anticipates “the prospect of a public vendetta against those who may be accused of passing on the disease in restaurants, offices, drink­ing fountains and other public places.”

My knees were still knocking when I turned to THE SUNDAY TIMES to read of a new drug, Immunovir, which might be useful in treating AIDS symptoms. But the developers of the drug think it might be too late: “the number of people suffering from AIDS is doubling every six months in Britain”.

Researchers Adler and Harris want “a campaign of health education to persuade people at risk to change their behaviour.” It’s up to us, I suppose.


The theatre critic of THE TIMES said Bob Hope got cheap laughs at the expense of gays. Example: “did you hear about the two gays who died, were cremated and had their ashes stored in a fruit jar?”

I was pleased to see that Mr Hope’s British tour was an unmitigated disaster with cancelled shows and thousands of unsold tickets. What you might call poetic justice.

GAY TIMES 79, March 1985

The British press has declared war on homosexuals. “The renewed open season on gays” was how Susan Hemmings described it in a letter to THE GUARDIAN, and it has gone well beyond the spiteful sniping we are used to. This month has seen one of the most concerted, sustained and vindictive attacks ever launched on our community.

Day after day the Big Guns have been firing off volleys of misinformation and distortion on the subject of AIDS. With apparent glee, papers like THE SUN and DAILY STAR have been allotting acres of space to bigots who seem to have been waiting patiently in the wings for this opportunity.

And by using this device (“Vicar says AIDS is the wrath of God”) the papers can publish the crudest and most despicable slanders without shouldering any of the responsibility: “We didn’t say it—we just quoted the vicar”.

THE SUN gave us a prime example when it afforded large prominence to a Liverpool publican who had banned gays from his pubs. “AIDS is a real threat to the moral fabric of society,” he was allowed to say. “A lot of ordinary people are going to catch something from beer glasses. We don’t want gays on the premises. Let’s face it, they’re the ones who causes it.”

Just the worthless opinion of some ignorant landlord, maybe, but it was given the front page treatment. It also gave The SUN the opportunity to headline: “Beer mugs may spread the disease”.

If all this sounds like superstitious clap, trap, you ain’t seen nothing yet, for it takes the media’s “intellectuals” to give the wrath of God Theory credence. With the contorted logic much-favoured by propagandists who can’t make a real case, Peregrine Worsthorne in The SUNDAY TELEGRAPH wrote: “The public’s first reaction to this new danger will be to look for a scapegoat—a search which, in this case, presents no difficulty at all, the male homosexual being the obvious candidate. Not that scapegoat is quite the right word, it carries with.it the suggestion— wholly inappropriate in the case of, AIDS – of some innocent person or group being forced to bear the undeserved burden… In the case of Aids, male homosexuals undoubtedly are responsible. According to Mr Worsthorne, then, homosexuals have had it coming for some time and now they’re going to get it – the only thing missing from his piece was “praise the Lord.”


But who, in Peregrine Worsthorne’s reckoning, is “innocent” and who “guilty”? All I know is that if he’d used the world Jew or black instead of homosexual he would have been hauled up under the Race Relations Act.


So how are we, the guilty ones, going to be punished? Well, to start with they can take our jobs away. That’s the idea of fat-arsed, thick-headed Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens who, according to THE DAILY EXRESS urged the Government to tighten up on local authorities who “encourage” homosexual teachers.

Expanding on this theme, THE EXPRESS editorialised: “Why was the Reverend Gregory Richards, a homosexual, employed as a chaplain in the prison service? ‘God knows how many people he has infected with the disease. Equal rights for homosexuals cannot operate in sensitive appointments when such risks as AIDS exist.”

And never missing an opportunity to kick a man when he’s dead, the emetic editor of THE SUNDAY EXPRESS, John Junor, wrote: “Shouldn’t there be a post mortem on how Rev Gregory Richards, a known homosexual, came to be given and allowed to keep for so long, a prison service job in an institution for teenage offenders.”

And isn’t it time there was a post mortem on Sir John Junor – preferably a real one.


THE SUN’S infinitely questionable editorial voice settled for prison sentences. “We believe that all would-be blood donors should be asked to declare that they are not practising homosexuals. If it was discovered that they had lied, then an automatic jail sentence should be imposed.”

But which jails would all these convicted blood donors be sent to? Very few, it seems, for those tough prison screws turn out to be just like those silly people who stand on chairs and scream when they see a mouse. AIDS is not a mouse, I agree, but there is no need for this overreaction.


The same ludicrous panic seems to have spread to firemen who have decided that they won’t use the kiss-of-life any more even though “it saves about 1000 lives a year by reviving victims of fires, road crashes and other tragedies,” said THE SUNDAY PEOPLE. The paper seemed oblivious to the fact that their mad three-inch headlines about the disease might have something to do with creating the firemen’s fear.

Meanwhile the lead story of the same edition (“Scandal of AIDS cover-up on QE2”) was about Cunard not making a big fuss about an AIDS victim (“a homosexual millionaire”) being taken off their flagship. “Astonishing” said THE PEOPLE — which presumably would have preferred the passengers to abandon ship in mid-Pacific.


People who behave rationally and with compassion in dealing with AIDS victims are being increasingly vilified. Like Dr John Newman, the BBC’s medical officer who allowed a man (“a homosexual in his 30s) according to THE SUNDAY MIRROR to work at TV Centre until he died of pneumonia. “I knew this man had AIDS but I felt it was safe for him to carry on working.” “BBC let AIDS man keep on working,” screeched THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH.

It would be a mortal shame if this kind of exaggerated reaction discouraged people from acting sensibly for fear of being persecuted by the press.


To be fair there have been a few voices raised within the media’s ranks, trying to bring a bit of balance. But they have been few, and far from prominent.

Alix Palmer, a columnist on THE DAILY STAR, attacked Peregrine Worsthorne as “a morality-monger” and said the Rev Owen (“homosexuals should repent”) Leigh-Williams was “riddled with superstition and not much common sense.” Whilst John Smith in THE SUNDAY PEOPLE said that the opportunist vicar was “talking through his dog-collar”. Smith also wrote: “It would be disastrous if this lead to the kind of hysteria which gripped the United States where people feared they might catch the disease simply by being served by a homosexual waiter or handling change from a homosexual bus conductor.” Disastrous indeed. Perhaps Mr Smith should have a word with his editor about that.

THE GUARDIAN commented: “Practical steps might beneficially be accompanied by a wider recognition that male homosexuals who are bearing the main brunt of this cruel and dreadful disease need all the support and understanding a supposedly caring society can provide.

THE DAILY MIRROR wrote an editorial that pinpointed the dangers. “It is homosexuals who are at risk most of all. If the present scare continues they will be treated as lepers, socially and politically, as well as medically. The Ministry of Health must publicise clearly and honestly what the dangers are. Making ADS a notifiable disease must not be an excuse for a witch hunt against homosexuals, but part of a campaign to stop it spreading.”

Perhaps Mr Maxwell could take some of his own advice and use The Daily Mirror as a publicity tool to put the record straight, and some of his money to stop the tidal wave of terror.


But the low point, the very pits, came from The DAILY STAR: “Do homosexual lawyers get legal AIDS? Do gay orange growers get marmalAIDS and do teetotallers get lemon AIDS?” Hilarious isn’t it? But here’s an even funnier one that will appeal to the Fleet Street wags. Did you hear about THE DAILY STAR journalist who had a stroke and was paralysed all down one side until he died in agony a few days later? Thought that one would tickle you.


So how do we protect ourselves from this relentless press onslaught? What can we do in our own defence?

First, we have to somehow get over to people the knowledge that AIDS is not a “plague” — gay or otherwise. It is not highly contagious. Unfortunately, this is the myth the press are most determined to foster. They surreptitiously suggest you can get AIDS from a beer glass or from a church cup or from even being in the same room as gays. You do not get AIDS like you get the ‘flu and people must be made to understand this.

Here are a few things we can all do, and if you think of others, please write to Gay Times and share them:

  1. Blitz the editors and journalists of the offending newspapers with letters and phone calls. It might be that the reporters just don’t understand the issues. If this is the case, we have to make them understand. Letters to correspondence columns can help redress the balance of distorted reporting; this is particularly true of the regional press which is much more likely to print letters from readers. The newspapers are tireless in their efforts to discredit and defame us—we must be equally vigorous in our own defence. Make a habit of writing protest letters—by the score if necessary.
  2. Write to your MP explaining your disquiet over newspaper coverage. Tell him or her that it is time the Government took stronger measures to disseminate the truth. You could hammer home the need for more money to be allocated to AIDS research.
  3. Put friends, family and colleagues in the picture as much as possible. Explain that the media is not giving a clear picture of what is happening—then tell them the known facts. You can help yourself in this task by obtaining a supply of leaflets about AIDS from the Health Education Council, 13-39 Standard Road, London NW10 6HD. The printed word undoubtedly has more authority than the spoken one—a fact the press use to their advantage.
  4. If you are a member of the National Union of Journalists (or you know someone who is) raise the matter of the disgraceful incitement to panic at chapel meetings. Remind your fellow members of the NUJ guidelines detailing how AIDS should be reported, which were issued last August and which have been flagrantly disregarded.
  5. Individual members of the public can make complaints to the National Union of Journalists as an alternative to the totally ineffective Press Council. Offending journalists can be brought before their chapels and disciplined if the offence is serious enough.
  6. Make a donation to The Terrence Higgins Trust. This is the only organisation trying to counter the panic and hysteria with hard facts and authoritative comments. We must ensure that the Trust survives and their work expands as it becomes more and more vital to all of us.
  7. We are all worried about AIDS—not only about the disease but about the reactions to it and the implications for gay people. We must support each other and unite for a fight back. Discuss AIDS with your friends and make sure you are aware of the facts. Talk about your fears and let’s think seriously about the changes we can make in our lifestyles to ensure the disease is checked. People who are on their own and worried about what is happening should not remain isolated—get in touch with a gay helpline and talk through your fears.

GAY TIMES 80, April 1985

Although AIDS stories have now been mainly relegated to the inside pages, still hardly a day goes by when the papers don’t have something to say on the subject. And some of the angles they choose are nothing short of bizarre. What THE SUN lacks in restraint it more than makes up for in lunatic AIDS stories: “Gay club keys are blacked in AIDS scare.”

Then the ‘LIE FACTORY’ (as The Sun has been dubbed by its own workers) told us: “Black magic herbal remedies used by witchdoctors in Africa could cure AIDS.”

Which is fine except for the fact that in Africa AIDS really is an epidemic, which doesn’t say much for the efficacy of witchdoctors.


Leaving the SUN aside for the moment (and that’s a temptation) there have been a spate of “responsible” attempts to put right the damage the press has done. “AIDS: The Truth” said the DAILY MIRROR earnestly. “Panic is sweeping Britain over the killer virus AIDS” it began, as though the Maxwell mob had nothing to do with it. Meanwhile in equally sombre tones the NEWS OF THE WORLD tried to be informative: “AIDS continues to spread like a raging bushfire” —very cool, calm and reassuring I must say. The SUN tried to whip up . . . er, sympathy for AIDS victims with the gentle headline “I’M DYING OF AIDS!” In an interview with AIDS-sufferer Bill Ayres, THE SUN says: “Bill insists that his sexual lifestyle is similar to nearly all the homosexual population in Britain. He has lost count of how many sexual contacts he has had, some weeks just a couple, others ten or more. The total runs into thousands.” The same man appears in THE DAILY MIRROR saying “I’ve lead what you’d call a fast life. So what?”

The papers, of course, lapped this up, giving their readers a vicarious thrill while inviting their revulsion. Yes, those of us who want to survive know we have to adjust our behaviour—I hope we do, anyway—we don’t need the Sun with its hypocritical tut-tutting to tell us.

The same self-righteous message, all wrapped up in pomposity, emerged from THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: “However uncharitable it is to gloat over the sufferings of the principle victims of AIDS, homosexuals, it is unfortunately not without historical precedent that the public should look askance at the harbingers of new and virulent diseases. Homosexuals would best serve their interests as individuals and those of society as a whole by learning the lesson of unbridled promiscuity and observing a more regular lifestyle.”

Quite ironic, really, to find yourself being lectured by journalists, surely themselves among the most irresponsible and immoral section of the community. The holier-than-thou tone makes you want to throw up.

THE TIMES devoted a large amount of space to “AIDS: the facts, the fears, the future.” It was constructive and admitted: “AIDS has fuelled, not triggered, the increasing homophobia seen in recent years in the press. Curiously, and by contrast, radio and television have been a great deal more constructive in their approach.” And this is true. ‘Weekend World’ (ITV), ‘TV Eye’ (ITV), ‘Newsnight’ (BBC1), and ‘Medicine Now’ (Radio 4) have all given balanced and calm reportage. The exception must surely have been ‘The London Programme’ (ITV) which betrayed the trust of those who took part and produced a real frightener, with a blame-laden, finger-wagging approach to London’s gay community, chastising them for their ‘Bacchanalian ways’.


THE SUN, ever-anxious to keep us up to date with informed opinion on the subject, quoted an American psychologist, Paul Cameron: “All homosexuals should be exterminated to stop the spread of AIDS. It’s time we stopped pussy-footing around.” No doubt Kelvin McKenzie will be offering this man a job as a leader writer. In the EXPRESS, West Sussex County Councillor Bruce Hay urged that “homosexuals should carry identity cards to help the emergency service identify potential AIDS sufferers in accident cases”.

And just before I wipe my arse on THE DAILY STAR, I thought you might be interested in another example of its “humour”. “Whilst we are on the subject of British Airways, cabin staff are alarmed that they may catch AIDS from the 25 per cent of their number who are claimed to be gay. Seems their slogan should be ‘Fly the Fag’.”

With beautiful irony THE GUARDIAN revealed that THE TIMES has an epidemic of its own—three suspected cases of legionnaires disease have been found in the building. This is obviously a visitation from God sent to punish Fleet Street for its wicked lying. Hopefully the Times plague will spread up to the Bouverie Street bovver-boys at the SUN and strike them all down. Nobody deserves it more than Mr McKenzie and his pack of liars.


In THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, Peter Simple, he of the limitless bile, told of “a newly developed sector of the discrimination industry” —heterosexism. He quotes Annie Hughes, of the Advisory Centre for Education as saying: “even the most forward-looking authorities and schools ignore blatant discrimination against and, harassment of lesbian and gay students. The education system has a responsibility to take into account that there are many homosexuals in every school – with a possible frequency of 1 in 10.”

This extremely dubious figure,” says Simple is, of course, “part of the propaganda apparatus of those who, for whatever reason, are continually nagging away at us about this subject… her statement that it is hardly ever mentioned in lessons is pernicious. Why on earth should it? Homosexuality grows by proselytism.”

Peter Simple obviously subscribes to the idea that there is a large conspiracy going on and that no-one is really gay – we’ve all been persuaded into it by this fifth column of corrupters for reasons which aren’t quite clear. But who corrupted the corrupters?

His views represent the classic insecurity of straight men. They’re scared to death by homosexuality, probably because deep down they know it’s present somewhere in their own personality. Simple is the loser, of course. His view of humanity is so narrow and his heart so twisted by hate that it makes me shiver to think what he must be like.


There was a report in NEW SOCIETY of the progress being made in West Hollywood—the world’s first gay city. The recently-elected council of gay men and lesbians seems to be doing an excellent job, not only of protecting and promoting gay interests but those of the other residents, too. “The new city council was elected by an unlikely alliance between ‘greys’ and gays—singles and seniors.” Their common cause was to rid themselves of exploiting, parasitic landlords, and get some kind of rent control.

There are also efforts afoot to give gay relationships legal status. “The baroque circus, with AIDS as the skeletal ringmaster cracking the whip, has given gaeity a bad name, which legitimacy might improve,” says the author of the piece, Sasha Moorsom, and asks: “Where West Hollywood leads, will Islington be far behind?”

We can but hope.


The biography of Lord Mountbatten by Philip Ziegler was serialised in THE SUNDAY TIMES. The question it posed in one episode was: was Dickie gay? As “proof” that he was not, Ziegler says: “He loved the company of women, sought their affection and had an almost irresistible urge to use them as confidantes” and “his riding companions were usually invariably female.”

Now all this also applies to me (except the riding). I love the company of women and have lots of female confidantes. But please, Mr Ziegler, I am gay.

GAY TIMES 84, August 1985

First of all, I have to mention what the papers didn’t say—in fact, what they resolutely stayed silent about. I mean, of course, the Gay Pride Carnival. I just can’t believe that the largest single gathering of homosexuals this country has ever seen was totally without news value. But it seems I’m wrong.

So, if it didn’t mention the Pride March, what did the media contribute to our week? Well, on the day before the carnival, THE MIRROR carried a letter from Dorothy G James complaining that breakfast TV had carried an item on gays: ‘Zoe Brown said that homosexuality is natural, but so is revulsion against it,’ she ranted.

Alix Palmer in the STAR patronised Martina Navratilova’s lesbianism: ‘You see?’ she wrote after quoting a romantic anecdote from the Wimbledon champ’s autobiography. ‘Just like the rest of us.’

I suppose that’s better than the reaction of Heather Kirby in THE SUNDAY EXPRESS who said: ‘It isn’t that the subject is shocking anymore, but it is still distasteful to most of us and, although Martina says she doesn’t think her bisexuality is ‘creepy’ frankly that is what I think of some of the titillating anecdotes she seems so happy to share.’

Meanwhile the LONDON STANDARD gleefully told us that Tory-controlled Bexley council has ‘banned homosexual and lesbian couples from adopting homeless children.’ They quote Tory councillor Graham Holland: ‘I was attacked as a child by a homosexual and the emotional scars still remain. We can’t run the risk that even one sexual deviant could adopt a child.’

That, folks, was what the Great British Press contributed to Gay Pride Week.


Christina Monet wrote a feature in THE LITERARY REVIEW about the present interest in Aids on the Broadway stage. There are two plays on the subject ‘As Is’ and ‘The Normal Heart’. Ms Monet tells of the reactions of New Yorkers whenever the dreaded disease is mentioned: ‘decibels dwindle and shudders are audible in squeamish pauses … the latest body, the latest well-known victim amongst ‘them’ — for them is still the perceptual escape which allows the straight majority their compassion at a safe remove—a magnanimous view from a ringside seat, on the other side of the plexiglass.’

Of the two plays she prefers ‘The Normal Heart’ by Larry Kramer (‘far less popular and far more interesting’) which doesn’t dodge the more complex issues, the most contentious of these being the idea that ‘the spread of Aids is a retributive result of the promiscuous gay lifestyle.’

There are no easy answers to this or any other of the ‘moral’ issues involved, but the questions have to be asked even if they do make us squirm with discomfort.

One striking point which Kramer makes is “part of our problem is that our heroes have always been appropriated by the straight community …Proust is for us to share with you, not yours to deny us … our culture supports the legitimisation of promiscuity and pornography and continues to entrench the physical as the definition of gayness. We define ourselves by our bodies. And that’s what’s killing us.”

I hope it isn’t too long before we see these plays in this country, because these are nasty and frightening issues that we, on this side of the Atlantic, seem to be avoiding like the plague.


Back to the correspondence columns, and it’s THE OBSERVER who gave space to the Rev John Carpenter of London SW2 to say: “The Bible, in unequivocal terms, pronounces a homosexual as bad as a prostitute. They are under divine wrath and divine curse …no wonder that the noose of nuclear disaster is tightening round the necks of this generation which promotes perverted sex. Any Observer reader who may innocently get involved with this demonic sexual perversion may be warned, ‘Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.’”

We can take comfort from the fact that this kind of hysterical ranting from the church preceded every major social change which has benefited mankind. The church vigorously opposed the abolition of slavery, arguing that the Bible condones the keeping of slaves (which it does). The South Africans, the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis and the Ayatollahs all use religion as a justification for their actions, they all claim God is on their side.

And if homosexuals are going to burn in hell, these stinking preachers will have to move over and make room for us.


In soap opera, as in the everything else, there are double standards as regard gays, Apparently, it’s OK in Dynasty but out of the question in The Archers.

Jack Barton, producer of the everyday story of (straight) country folk, says there won’t be any gays in Ambridge. “These people wouldn’t be tolerated in a small village,” he says in justification.

I know for a fact that this isn’t true, as do so many rural gays, but the truth is no match for homophobia. I think it’s time Mr Barton was written out of the script.

Meanwhile THE SUN ran the headline “I’m straight, says Dynasty’s gay Steve” over an interview with “handsome hunk” Jack Coleman who plays ambisexual Steven Carrington. “The episode in which it was revealed that he was going to marry Claudia caused the most controversy. When it was shown in a gay video bar in San Francisco there were hisses and boos… one outraged homosexual wrote ‘It’s maddening to imply that homosexuality is just a passing thing’.”

I like the silliness of it all, but I was slightly affronted when Jack Coleman produced his ‘real life girlfriend’ so that the Sun caption-writer could say “She’s his proof,” and then quoted the actor as saying, “My responsibility is to be credible whether I’m playing a gay or a killer or what.”

Let’s face it, the only credible story line that could be introduced into Dynasty would be the revelation that Joan Collins is really a drag queen who has a fetish for men with wooden hair.


THE SUN, by the way, got a nasty smack on its botty from the Press Council over its scabrous editorial in support of Rugby council’s anti-gay discrimination policy.

After the ruling, Sun managing editor Ken Donlan spit his dummy out long enough to snivel: “I object to the aggressive attitudes by gay magazines and newspapers.” The editor, Kelvin McKenzie stamped his feet and said: “The gay community and their pressure groups are harassing the press.”

It seems the naughty boys at Bouverie Street don’t like to take the sort of medicine they prescribe to other people. If that’s the case—tough titty.

GAY TIMES 87, November 1985

The reporting of Aids continues at screaming pitch. The treatment given to the subject varies enormously and as you’d expect it was THE SUN that scraped the floor of the sewer. “I’d shoot my son if he had Aids,” was the headline over one of the most malevolently mischievous pieces of “journalism” I’ve yet seen. Given the criticism there has been over the deliberate panic created in the press over Aids, there can be no justification for giving three-quarters of a page to the opinion of some crazy clergyman to say (in large quotes): “If it continues, it will be like the Black Plague. It could wipe out Britain. Family will be against family. Nobody will trust anyone else and gun law will prevail.”

These are the words of Rev Robert Simpson of Barmston, Humberside. How THE SUN managed to find such a lunatic and why they decided to give such prominence to his opinions can only be put down to an evil desire to add to the hysteria. It was journalism of the most base and irresponsible kind, and there is nothing we can do about it—the Sun sails on impervious to criticism.

THE STAR, in its turn, ran one of those brave editorials saying: “Above all, the public must have a great deal more information about Aids, its effects and the risks of infection. Too many people are relying on rumour and stage door gossip about show-biz stars.” Which is rendered laughable by the fact that on the front page of the same issue is a story headed “Terror in Tinsel Town” which quotes from well-known medical experts like Linda Evans, Cher and pig-ignorant Joan Rivers, who seems to have little knowledge of the subject but an awful lot to say about it. “I have friends with Aids,” she screeches, “But I can tell you, there’s no kissing, no touches.” I wish she’d do us all a favour and shut her cavernous trap for a while.

THE DAILY MAIL carried a ghastly piece about American hysteria. It wasn’t so much an ‘objective report’ as a cover for the anti-gay feelings of the author, George Gordon. “America is gripped with fear, loathing and hysteria over the relentless increase of the killer disease Aids. What is terrifying its leaders is that the national mood is only a twitch away from focusing that hysteria on a human target—the millions of openly homosexual men who until now flaunted their gayness before the straight society.”

He goes on carping about the progress made by gays but is cheered to know that this is all being rapidly reversed. Then he says: “America is a deeply religious country, in which the fear of fire and brimstone is never far from the sophisticated surface”.” This, it seems. gives the born-again maniacs carte blanche to go on the rampage against those they see as the ‘originators’ of Aids. “The tolerant society is fast disappearing,” says Gordon, “Women, children and heterosexual men are catching Aids, and whether it is from contaminated blood or contact, it comes down to two primary sources—junkies using dirty needles and homosexuals.”

He tells us that Rock Hudson’s death, far from creating sympathy for gays has “aroused an awareness and revulsion that has swept the country.” George Gordon’s article ends: “The gay parades are over. So too is public tolerance of a society that paraded its sexual deviation and demanded rights. The public is demanding to live disease-free with the prime carriers in isolation.”

Now just a moment —let’s just look at what this man is saying. “Disease-free lives”? Humanity has never been free from disease and it never will be. What he means is gay-free. And that has implications that don’t bear thinking about.

NEW SOCIETY summed it up when they said that the Aids story is really one of “selfishness and fear”—which brings me on to the arch-practitioner of those two vices, John Junor, editor of THE SUNDAY EXPRESS. “Curious isn’t it,” he said of Rock Hudson, “the way he is being turned into some kind of folk hero? Elizabeth Taylor gushes about how much she loves him … others take their hats off and lower their eyes to the ground and talk about his courage … Mr Hudson may have had many qualities. In my view neither courage nor decency was amongst them.”

There are other human values too, like compassion and sympathy, I’d say Junor had them in about the same measure as a hyena.

At the more sensible end of the scale, NEW SOCIETY carried a large piece about what they called “the worst public health problem since polio and TB were defeated.” The author said, after looking calmly but not very hopefully at the state of research: “There is only one way to stop this disease from decimating the gay population, and possibly killing thousands of heterosexuals too: by altering people’s sexual behaviour.” The article is worth looking up and reading in full—it was in the issue dated 18th October.


THE latest gay play ‘Torch Song Trilogy’ had rather extreme love-it-or-hate-it reviews. Jack Tinker in THE DAILY MAIL loved it: “A triumph which packs its punches far and wide”. John Barber in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH agreed, saying he thought the play “the funniest as well as the most exuberant and perceptive and painful for years about sexuality, inversion and the disorders of modern love.” Irving Wardle in THE TIMES thought it “a revelation”.

But THE SUNDAY TIMES’ John Peter thought it “an entertainment for consenting adolescents. A long run might push homosexuality back into the ghetto from which it had a lot of trouble emerging in the past decade or two.” Michael Billington in THE GUARDIAN said it was “rather like Neil Simon re-written by Barbara Cartland.” Milton Shulman in THE LONDON STANDARD: “Such a soppy ending would have been derided as sentimental bathos had anyone dared write it about a romantically besotted heterosexual.”

Whatever the critics thought about it—and they’ve been wrong many times before—the preview audience on the night I was there were on their feet clapping and cheering riotously.


The Labour Party passed its gay rights resolution. The DAILY EXPRESS, SUN and MIRROR all quoted the single opposing speaker to the exclusion of everyone else. Meanwhile the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH told of the “increased commitment” to gay rights of 10 of the 32 London Boroughs and a growing number of Northern councils, like Manchester. “Council officers say the spread of the deadly disease Aids… has sharpened rather than undermined their commitment to helping the homosexual community.”

The LONDON STANDARD reported the issue of the GLC’s “Charter for lesbian and gay rights”. It quotes Ken Livingstone as saying: “Any statement about our grant for the gay and lesbian community was taken up by the gutter press who systematically tried to distort and twist what we were doing.”

THE DAILY MAIL is angered that Hackney council is giving gays “the same rights as married couples over council homes”. “The risk of encouraging people to claim homosexual relationships was obvious” it quotes. All these authorities just happen to be Labour-controlled. So, just to demonstrate that I am not biased I can report that THE DAILY EXPRESS told us of the Government’s contribution to the welfare of gays: “Government secretary Kenneth Baker is pledged to cut grants. Schemes thrown back include the GLC’s Lesbian and Gay Centre … Lord Elton promised that the clampdown would not affect genuine (sic) voluntary groups.”

Thanks a bundle Mrs T.


Some favourite gay films have found their way on to the telly in the past few weeks: ‘Victor/ Victoria’ and ‘La Cage aux Folles’ gave an exuberant portrait of the funny side of gay life, whereas ‘Fox and His Friends’ and ‘Nighthawks’ could easily depress the hell out of anyone. According to THE SUNDAY TIMES, Channel 4 has relented on its ban on Derek Jarman’s ‘Sebastiane’ and will broadcast it after all with only one minor cut.

Sarah Kennedy led a heated debate on gay rights in her ‘Daytime’ programme (Thames TV) in which the literally hysterical homophobes in the audience humiliated themselves with an incredible show of hatred and irrationality.

An ‘Open Space’ slot on BBC2 entitled ‘Plague on you’ was given over to an attack on Fleet Street’s coverage of AIDS. Ex-Fleet Street editor Derek Jameson and that puffed-up windbag George Gale of the Express condemned themselves with their own words. Jameson came over as a coarse, vulgar and thoughtless chump, as you’d expect, and Gale turned out to be an intellectual of the Adrian Mole variety, with about as much depth as a pancake. Lovely stuff.


Robert Baldock did a report on the Hippodrome’s gay night for NEW SOCIETY. It read rather like an anthropologist’s description of some newly-discovered tribe. I suppose this is explained by the conclusion he reaches about the ghettoisation of gays for profit. “The fact that there needs to be a ‘gay night’ at all indicates how hollow has been the social integration of the homosexual,” he writes, “… what 2000 years of homophobia did not succeed in doing, several years of freedom (under surveillance) have achieved: the domestication of the gay and the consignment of gay life and culture into a gilded cage … Sexual liberation has liberated people to make money out of sex. Gay separatism is a profitable business. The Hippodrome, despite the air of tolerance, is no welfare centre. ‘Tolerance is intolerable’, says Jack Land, the French, Minister of Culture, it is only a subtle, unadmitted form of racism.

GAY TIMES 90, March 1986

Greta Schiller’s documentary film BEFORE STONEWALL (distributed by The Other Cinema if you want to request your local film society or alternative cinema to screen it) was well-received by those papers that deigned to review it. It tells of what life was like for gay people in America before the days of gay liberation. One of the speakers describes how difficult it was to Come Out to parents in the 50s. You could expect all kinds of extreme reactions, he said.

Unfortunately, things don’t seem to have changed much during the intervening 30 years. Not for readers of THE SUN, anyway. They were invited, if they had a gay child, to tell agony aunt Deirdre Sanders how they coped. This is a sample of the response: “Mary discovered her son David was homosexual … from a phone call from one of the boy’s ex-lovers. She says: ‘I didn’t want to touch David. After he’d gone I sterilised every cup, plate and piece of cutlery he’d used. I wish he’d got killed when he fought in the Falklands war. At least he would have died with honour.” And there is a whole page of similar reactions from perplexed parents. One father hasn’t spoken to his gay son for seven years.

Nowhere in this catalogue of misery is a positive reaction described. There is no account of the parents who have accepted and enthusiastically embraced their gay children, even though we know such people exist and are probably in the majority.

Nowhere does the article suggest that perhaps it is the parents who are over-reacting and being unreasonable. The blame for the unhappiness is placed squarely with the children.

I can’t help wondering, though, whether the fact that all the parents are regular readers of The Sun has anything to do with their dismay. If these distressed people have only The Sun’s version of what gay life is like to inform them, it’s no wonder they’re hysterical.

The Sun also reaps a rich harvest from its own campaign of misinformation in another article “My misery posing as an AIDS victim”. Leaving aside questions about the value of such a piece, we are invited to follow “Sun man” Peter Cliff around the country as he tells all and sundry that he has Aids. It hardly needs saying that taxis refused his fare, hotels closed their doors on him, restaurants declined to serve him and barbers wouldn’t cut his hair.

Once again you have to ask where the hysteria arose. How did people get such exaggerated fears in the first place? Much of the blame must lie with those yobbish journalists who presently hide behind a barbed wire fence in the east of London—the Wapping liars. “Media-bashing” they call it now when people criticise their rotten ways. I call it credit where it’s due.


THE front page of the DAILY EXPRESS for February 3rd carried the headline: “£140m spree on the rates.” The story said: “A Daily Express investigation has revealed details of plans to heap money on dozens of way-out organisations set up during Mr Livingstone’s five-year reign of chaos. They include groups for gays and lesbians, anti-police ‘research’ groups and ‘arts organisations’”

Page five of the same issue. “The GLC plans to hand out a colossal £100 million to wind up five chaotic years of Labour rule. The cash will go to gays and lesbians, police ‘research’ teams… etc, etc.” And the page after that: “A short-list of some of the recipients of the GLC’s largesse … London Lesbian Line, Black Lesbian and Gay Centre, Greenwich Black Women’s Collective …” and so on ad nauseum.

Have you got the message yet? That’s right —the DAILY EXPRESS is a toilet roll.


A new and worryingly nasty breed of Aids stories is beginning to emerge in the press. THE SUNDAY MIRROR tells us that “Kissogram girls have packed in pecking the punters—because they are terrified of catching Aids”. THE SUNDAY PEOPLE followed up its scandalous Bernard Manning interview with an even more slanderous attack on gays.

They report “panic” in Trinidad after “Homosexuals, some suffering from the deadly disease, jabbed contaminated syringes into carnival revellers.” The paper says that gays were seen to draw blood from themselves and then jab it into people at random in the crowd. And who is supposed to have seen this happen? Well, “a woman,” apparently, and a “customs official.” No names, no pack drill. The “woman witness” is quoted as saying: “Some of the gays are boasting all over town that they want to spread Aids around so that ‘straights’ will know what it is like to die slowly.”

The article begs many questions, not least of which is how does a casual observer know who is gay, who has got Aids and who hasn’t?

The story reads rather like one of those First World War propaganda pieces about the beastly Hun who were purported to have bayonetted babies. The new enemy? Homosexuals. You and me.

It is my belief that this story cannot be supported by evidence. I have written to the editor of THE SUNDAY PEOPLE to this effect and if he doesn’t come up with a satisfactory answer, then I shall complain to the Press Council. If any Gay Times readers want to add their voice to this complaint, I can provide copies of the article.


THE DAILY TELEGRAPH told us that “Aids panic sweeps Irish jails”. On inspection it seems that, just as they did in England, the prison officers are using Aids as a means of drawing attention to the squalid and overcrowded conditions in their prisons. In the same edition we are told that “Lifeguards patrolling South Wales beaches have become the first to be given protective masks to safeguard against catching Aids during mouth-to-mouth contact.”

THE OBSERVER reports that “A recent study by NBC and the Wall Street Journal… showed that three-quarters of all Americans polled believed that Aids would spread beyond the ‘at risk’ groups … a third gave credence to the idea that it can be caught from being sneezed on, donating blood or sharing a needle.”

So how do we challenge this frightening and stubborn ignorance? GUARDIAN readers get the occasional opportunity. After carrying a feature on Aids in pregnancy, several readers wrote at length challenging some of the usual assumptions. Richard Wilding wrote: “Once again your newspaper repeats the common but erroneous statement ‘one third of all homosexuals in this country now carry the Aids virus.’ Nobody knows how many people (gay, straight, male or female) carry the Aids virus … Among gay men in this country, one third of those tested (repeat one third of those tested) have been found to be antibody positive. It does not follow from this that one third of the entire male gay population of Britain are antibody positive, let alone Aids virus carriers.”

Of course, THE GUARDIAN is virtually alone in making space for such debate. The others continue untroubled in their campaign of distortion.


To compensate for Dire Deirdre (er … that’s Dear Deirdre) THE SUN’s horrendous agony aunt, we have Marje Proops in THE MIRROR offering advice to a young lesbian. The woman was “intensely happy” with her female lover but couldn’t get satisfaction from their sex life together. Marje says: “I think you may feel some guilt about being a lesbian, but that will fade as you meet more couples like yourselves. That’s bound to be the shape of your circle of friends. Then gradually you will feel a sense of belonging to a homosexual group … Sexual responses, whether it’s between a man and woman or between gays of either gender are all to do with loving and giving and caring. You love your partner. When you have learned to trust your own sexuality, that love will make you warmly responsive.”

Isn’t that nice? I couldn’t have put it better myself. It’s good to know we have at least one friend in the newspaper business. Thanks, Marje.

GAY TIMES 91, April 1986

Two gay departures from our telly screen last month. First of all, the curiously lifeless drag queen disappeared from EASTENDERS and Channel Four’s gay-ish sitcom BROTHERS ended its run. My favourite line from that show came when Cliff, the gay brother, had been beaten up by queer-bashers. His other brother explained: “Homophobes do not like homosexuals. They are not homosexuals.” To which camp and razor-sharp Donald retorted: “Don’t be too sure.”

Well, now we have to turn to this month’s parade of homophobes and gay-bashers, and a motley crew they are, too.

We start with Bernard Manning (who is now making his farewell appearance in this column). Did you see the much-trumpeted appearance on the embarrassing Joan Rivers show? It had obviously been heavily edited because gone were the jokes about Aids and sticking-tongues-down-throats. But it was still offensive enough to leave the other guests sitting on their settee looking extremely unhappy and unamused. Perhaps Mr Manning should be given more air-time—his own vileness would ensure a rapid end to his seedy career.


The annual attempt to get an ordinance passed in New York to outlaw discrimination against gays was commented upon by two British columnists. In THE TIMES, John O’Sullivan deigned to concede: “Tolerance yes, rights no.” He wrote: “The central question can be simply stated: is discrimination against homosexuals so widespread and damaging that it can and should be prohibited by legislation with all its potential for perverse and unintended consequences?” He concludes that “Most people hope their children will grow up heterosexual. If they can influence their sexual development in that direction, they will do so.”

This argument totally ignores the fact that there is no hard evidence to show that sexual development can be controlled one way or the other, so what form these “influences” would take doesn’t bear thinking about.

The same subject was tackled in a much less restrained manner by the ranting redneck George Gordon in THE DAILY MAIL. Mr Gordon has featured in this column before, assuring us that “the gay parades are over” but now having to concede that this proposed ordinance has brought gays out into the streets again.

“The bill will add sexual deviance to the list of categories—race, creed, gender, marital status and national origin—protected under the city’s anti-discrimination laws. The big question is why?”

Mr Gordon tells us that the idea is “an insult to the Jews and Hispanics and anyone else on the anti-discrimination list and it is totally unnecessary as legislation unless one feels that the cause of homosexuality, repugnant to the majority of the population, needs some sort of special encouragement.” He goes on to say (and quotes others as saying) things like: “The idea is almost a poisoning of young minds” and “I have a duty and a right to protect my children from sexual deviants. If their teacher was gay, and in my mind that means a carrier of Aids, I would want to yank him straight out of the class… they are trying to force me to accept a lifestyle I find revolting.”

George Gordon is a bigot of the first order and I’m sure he feels at home in America. He isn’t merely anti-gay, he is unhinged on the subject. But much more worrying is that THE DAILY MAIL should give so much space to such a slanderous attack.


Who was it that said statistics are the lowest form of information? I can’t remember, but they’ve got a point.

NEW SOCIETY told us that during a survey of 1500 teenagers, one of the questions asked was: “Are homosexual relationships right or wrong?” According to the magazine “56 per cent of boys questioned and 37 percent of the girls thought homosexual relationships were wrong.”

But surely if you look at that another way it means a gigantic 63 per cent of girls and a respectable 44 per cent of boys thought that gay relationships were perfectly OK? Given the relentless anti-gay propaganda they are exposed to, I’m astonished that any came out on our side.

Statistics have also exercised the already troubled mind of Peter Simple, the strange columnist in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH. “When the great hullabaloo about homosexuality erupted 30 years ago the figures generally accepted by homosexuals themselves was five percent. This has now risen to 10 per cent and shows signs of rising further.” But hasn’t Mr Simple said all this before? He says he is “bored into the ground by ghastly homosexual pressure groups.”

So long as he is bored six feet into the ground, I’ll be happy.

And still with THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, we were given the result of a Gallup poll on the subject of Aids. “Almost one in three adults in Britain believe it is unsafe to associate with anyone suffering from Aids, even without intimate physical contact”. But didn’t that mean that the majority didn’t think it as unsafe? And given Fleet Street’s mischievous campaign of misinformation, I find that quite amazing.

The statement: “The Government would be spending more money on Aids if the disease didn’t affect mainly homosexual males,” drew a 53 per cent agreement rate.

Which shows you can fool some of the people some of the time.


And speaking of the long-awaited Government education campaign—did you see it? Despite the fact that something like 85 percent of the victims are homosexual men, the word homosexual was mentioned only once. The ‘frank’ advice about sexual practices referred to “rectal sex”. The trouble is that an awful lot of people haven’t a clue what rectal sex means, let alone what “lipid membranes” or “T-helper cells” are.

The advertising manager of this magazine, Terry Deal, was quoted in THE GUARDIAN as saying that the Government was “shirking its responsibilities for telling people the specific truth about Aids and was going to use general information about the disease to counter the untruths which had appeared in the popular press.”

Alexander Chancellor summed up the dilemma in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: “If the Government fails to deal with the sexual realities it will be rightly attacked. If, on the other hand, it emphasises them unduly, it will be no less fiercely criticised.”

NEW SOCIETY was less mealy-mouthed. “Cowardice over AIDS” it said. “Anyone with an ounce of empathy will relate to the terrors of the gay community. Even now, in London, one in three homosexual men presenting themselves at clinics for sexually- transmitted diseases have the virus. Anything that lessens the spread, whatever temporary trauma it causes the Mary Whitehouse brigade, must be justified.”


THE LONDON STANDARD published a letter from Elizabeth Bridgett of London El. “I am inclined to pay heed to the theory that Aids is one of the last great apocalyptic plagues, bearing in mind the Bible’s contention that the Creator doesn’t like sodomy very much.”

Oh, so the superstitious brigade have changed their tune have they? At first it was “homosexuals” who were being punished, until the flaw in the argument was pointed out: lesbians are homosexual and Aids is almost unknown to them. So now it’s been boiled down to a specific act: sodomy.

But it seems to me that the wonderful old “Creator” doesn’t like a lot of things, if recent events are anything to go by. He certainly can’t like children very much when He sends earthquakes to flatten maternity hospitals and increases the incidence of infantile leukaemia.

Mrs Bridgett and her ilk can keep the Creator. He’s not very nice if you ask me.


After last month’s SUN feature about gay parents, Deirdre Sanders printed a letter from the parent of a gay man who wrote in protest: “Gay people need love and understanding from their family, not to be condemned as monsters. I’m sure there are a lot more families like ours which are prepared to support their child with help and understanding.”

But days later dreadful Deirdre was at it again: “My gay dad-in-law threatens blackmail”—casting the gay man yet again as the villain.

I don’t suppose people read agony columns to hear about well-adjusted individuals. But then again, I don’t suppose many well-adjusted people read The Sun.


When two people love each other, surely it is a cause for celebration? Love is good and valuable and worthwhile whatever the sex of the people involved. There can be no doubt that there was love of a sort between comedy duo Les Dennis and Dustin Gee. In an interview in THE MIRROR about life without Dustin, Les Dennis says: “It was a double grief in losing my closest friend and what we had professionally.”

But he still has to make sure that nobody gets the impression that it was anything other than platonic. Even though Dustin Gee was gay (“He was quite open with people about the way he was”) Les Dennis still feels the need to say: “There was this awful story about me and Dustin living and laughing together, suggesting we shared a house. It was absolute rubbish. I had a ground floor flat and Dustin had one two floors up.”

How strange that people are so defensive that they have to decry “living and laughing together”. This little rider surely devalues a touching relationship. For whilst the Mirror makes much of the love between Les and his wife, it seems to suggest that Dustin’s kind of love was something less than desirable.

I think it’s sad.


What’s a gay life worth? Not much if a recent court case at the Old Bailey is anything to go by.

According to THE CHISWICK GUARDIAN a man called Peter Fennell, a soldier of Ivy Crescent, London W4, kicked a gay man to death a few feet from a police station. What had the man done to deserve such a violent end? “He touched me… I went berserk”, said Fennell. This brute was jailed for four years, which probably means he’ll be out in two or less.

Haven’t we heard all this before? Or did Harvey Milk die in vain?