GAY TIMES 78, February 1985

More gay telly, treats last month – something which got up the nose of arch-moraliser Mary Kenny in THE DAILY MAIL: “I am profoundly against the persecution of homosexuals,” she said, after spending the whole column condemning us, “but too much pro-gay propaganda makes ordinary people feel hostile.” I wonder what she thinks all the anti-gay propaganda makes “ordinary” people feel – sympathetic?

Her ire had been raised by John Peacock’s play “More Lives than One” (BBC1). It was widely re-viewed, with Lucy Hughes-Hallett in the STANDARD saying: “I hope some toes were curling inside policemen’s boots last night …” She was referring to the cottage-squads depicted in the play, describing the police as: “Squandering whole afternoons in bullying, prurient little games.”

Herbert Kretzmer in THE DAILY MAIL observed: “Despite external signs of enlightenment, it strikes me that the prejudice against homosexuals is as rooted as ever and it was this continuing fear and loathing which provided the source of last night’s play.”

THE TIMES, of course, thought the cottage surveillance “a highly effective way of preventing a private indulgence from degenerating into a public nuisance.”

Sean Day-Lewis in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH said; “The play was a brave and mostly believable exploration of a difficult theme, but was opaque in its realisation of the bisexual capacity for taking its pleasures on all sides.” Just one comment about that Mr Day-Lewis: “Eh?”

Maureen Paton in THE DAILY EXPRESS said that “All he (the hero) wanted was to be treated like a human being – and here was a friend on the one hand urging him to suppress his instincts for the sake of his family and his aggressively liberated male lover on the other attempting to turn him into a card-carrying freak show.” Oh, by the way, subscriptions are due all those of you who want a new card entitling you to be a freak show.


LONDON Labour MP Chris Smith gave an interesting interview to NEW SOCIALIST about his decision to Come Out. With a majority of only 400, straight politicians might think Smith’s decision political suicide. But the interviewer, Christian Wolmar, put it another way: “A cynical observer might say that the timing of your coming out would guarantee that your party would re-select you because they couldn’t possibly be seen to de-select the only openly gay MP.” I hadn’t thought of that – but, anyway, how come Smith hadn’t come out before he was elected? “I didn’t do it because I was extremely worried about what the possible consequences might be.”

A Franklin cartoon

At least that’s honest, but I’m always a bit wary of gay public figures who’ve kept quiet for years and suddenly present themselves as shining examples to the rest of us.

No, I mustn’t carp – at least Smith has done it. Now, what about you other Westminster closet cases?


Rupert Murdoch, the Aussie owner of the most despicable ‘newspapers’ in the world was quoted in THE OBSERVER as saying: “I’d go to prison for The Sun but not for The Times”.

If that’s the case, he should have been doing hard labour years ago.


Left-wing councils that continue to promote gay rights really get the Tory press hopping mad. Hackney Council has produced a report that aims to give gay ratepayers the same rights as everyone else as regards adoption and fostering. Social welfare and so on. THE DAILY EXPRESS editorialised: “This is appalling foolishness. Despite the propaganda of militant homosexuals and trendy theorists, most of us still recognise the obvious truth: homosexuality is deviant.” The leader writer obviously had a bout of apoplexy while writing that – hopefully it might prove fatal. On the same day THE SUN, not to be topped, trotted out one of its hate-filled little homilies: “If it were not such a dangerous idea it would be laughable. Impressionable youngsters have enough difficulty coping with adolescence as it is. We can only assume that the Hackney loonies have taken over the asylum.” While the rest of us have to assume that the National Front has taken over the Sun.

A more considered, but equally lamentable reaction came from Peter Simple in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH. He wanted to challenge the “myth” that ten per cent of the population is gay. “When the hullabaloo over homosexuals erupted about 25 years ago, the figure given was 5 per cent. At this rate it should be 20 per cent by the end of the century.” But his real point came later: “What is thoroughly objectionable … is that homosexuals should be treated as ‘a community’ or a ‘minority group’.” He says that along with the Irish, women, blacks and the handicapped, we’ve been identified as a ‘group’ so that our vote can be manipulated by the Left. A tired argument which simply proves that if he thinks we’re that gullible, Peter really must be Simple.


The AIDS hysteria in the press continues unabated. It seems almost every day they manage to find some new shack-horror angle to splash in three-inch head-lines.

THE NEWS OF THE WORLD carried “gay plague” headlines in three consecutive issues, concentrating on the horrifying effects of the disease – on homosexuals of course. “Victims of gay plague long to die,” said one headline, whilst the following week came: “My doomed son’s gay plague agony”. The next issue carried: “Art genius destroyed by gay killer bug”. Anyone reading these stories would have got the impression that somehow only homosexuals are capable of getting AIDS. There was an element of rather sick self-congratulation in these pieces. They all seemed to be saying: “It can’t happen to us because we’re straight.”

Another batch of contaminated blood provided hundreds of column inches for the junk press. The DAILY EXPRESS was prompted to splash: “56 given AIDS killer blood” and told its readers: “The blood all came from a homosexual in his twenties who is now dying in hospital.” Lowest point was reached, needless to say, by the SUN, with a front-page story entitled: “Blood from gay .donor puts 41 at AIDS risk” (notice how, uncharacteristically, THE SUN had reduced the EXPRESS’s number of “innocent” victims by 15). “A gay blood donor with the killer disease AIDS has infected 41 other people it was reported last night.” I wonder how long it took reporter Leslie Toulson to create that first sentence which manages to make it appear that this poor man got some kind of kick from passing on the disease. The not very subtly concealed message is: see how irresponsible these queers are.

The leader-writer of THE SUN took the matter up on page two of the same issue: “In the streets of Britain there are an unknown number of men who are walking time bombs. They are homosexuals with the killer disease AIDS. When they volunteer as blood donors they become a menace to all society.” Notice the phraseology: “a menace to all society”.

I asked the editor of THE SUN, Kelvin McKenzie, whether he was prepared to take responsibility for acts of violence which might be incited against gay men by this highly provocative editorial. “I do not accept that our editorial did any more than urge all homosexuals, in the interests of the entire community, to think twice before giving blood,” was his reply.

Only THE OBSERVER tried to give balance with a small item headed: “Gays not to blame for AIDS”. It described how money was being withheld for research into AIDS because it had been incorrectly identified as a “gay disease”. “Government departments were described as reluctant to seem to ‘condone’ homosexuality. It was also blamed for an upsurge of anti-homosexual sentiment in Britain and abroad, providing a new focus for deep-rooted prejudice that years of ‘gay liberation’ have done little to dispel.” A doctor involved in AIDS research is quoted in the same feature saying: “In Africa the ratio of males to females with the disease is 1.1 to I — in other words almost exactly 50 per cent.”

Confirmation of this followed in THE LANCET, when it reported the case of a heterosexual couple, who had passed AIDS to their child. “This supports the idea that the virus can be transmitted heterosexually,” said The Lancet.

Picking this story up, the papers suddenly dropped the “gay plague” headlines. The gay angle suddenly became secondary as it dawned on them that they could get it, too. Except for THE SUN, of course, which still insisted that AIDS sufferers were “gay plague victims”.

It is papers like THE SUN and NEWS OF THE WORLD that do the whole community a disservice by encouraging bigotry in government departments and hindering research money. But what does Mr McKenzie and the rest of the Sun’s-of-bitches care — “the gay plague” makes them money and that’s the only criterion.


“Noel Coward’s friends are treating with ridicule the suggestion that he had a homosexual affair with the late Duke of Kent, the Queen’s uncle,” said the MAIL ON SUNDAY, pushing its crinolines firmly over its knees. The “allegation” had been made by author Michael Thornton, giving his book about the Queen Mother invaluable publicity in the process.

But could it be true or was it just greed for free advertising? Could His Grace really have been “one of them”? And surely our dear Noel wouldn’t have done such a thing, would he?

Well … would he?

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 95, August 1986

We have another wonderful parade of prejudice, spite and bigotry this month from the pages of our delightful press. So, take a deep breath everyone, get the sick bags to the ready and we begin with that dear but troubled soul, Auberon Waugh. Writing in THE SPECTATOR on the subject of Martina Navratilova, lesbianism and ugly women (one and the same thing according to the egg-headed Bron) he says he has no trouble in explaining why the crowd don’t like Martina. “Perhaps she would have been able to grasp the reason if she had been able to see herself play as himself. He then goes on about lesbianism and mentions an article which appeared in THE TIMES defending attempts at challenging heterosexism in schools, written by Rosalind Stott. “Poor woman,” says Waugh, “one wonders how she came into the world and how she was reared.”

One could ask the same of Auberon Waugh, of course, and justifiably say that whatever mode of family produced an abomination such as he should be stamped out immediately.


Mary Kenny (not ugly at all—not on the outside anyway) does her bit most weeks in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH to reinforce the association in the popular mind between socialism and homosexuality. She tells how she overheard a “group of mums” talking about a deputy head who they perceived to be gay – “a raver: a nancy-boy” said one mum. “Caddie Fan” said a Welsh lady, this being apparently the expression used in Wales to describe an effeminate man.” Ms Kenny tells us that this man taught his pupils to sing the songs of Noel Coward and eschewed the little boys “rough ways and gang games.” She concludes that “Bernie Grant … the black radical who proposes that children should be taught about homosexuality from an early age” will be disappointed that gays won’t always deliver the socialist message he would desire.

In fact, Mary Kenny’s article read like the crudest, most insulting kind of propaganda. She produces no evidence to support her rather convenient anecdote and, for those who have primed themselves to see, it is an obvious attempt to reinforce the idea that socialism and have somehow combined in an unholy alliance to undermine everything that is precious to cosy “groups of mums”, as though they were the only people in the world.

Mrs Thatcher’s personal P.R. couldn’t have done a better job.


First the good news: ghastly old duffer “Sir” John Junor has retired as editor of the obscene SUNDAY EXPRESS. The bad news is that he will continue to write that hate-filled column of his each week. His gratuitous abuse aimed not only at our community but at individuals within it, is familiar to us all and will, no doubt, continue. However, you have to credit him with a spark of originality in his own bigotry for he has many admirers and imitators. One of them popped up in THE WORTHING GUARDIAN using the pseudonym Hawkeye. “Some newspapers have got themselves into a fine lather,” says Hawkeye, “because a disco run by Richard Branson is selling a “sex drug” to heighten sensation. But what bothers me is that the press has not seen fit to comment on the fact that this disco is for homosexuals. It is a pick-up joint where the promiscuous meet each other for unspeakable purposes. But so used have we become to accepting perversion that it doesn’t even rate a comment—even when Mrs Thatcher’s ‘Mr Clean’ is profiting from it.”

This ignores the fact that the paper that broke the “story” in the first place, the MIRROR, made great play of the fact that Heaven is a gay disco. But anyway, Hawkeye was a little late with his tirade as J J had written almost precisely the same thing the previous week but substituting the word “poofter” for homosexual. And hadn’t J J also written of his hatred for Martina Navratilova because she “wears Y-fronts instead of frilly knickers and aftershave instead of perfume”? And hadn’t he also written about Cecil (“sexually as straight as a corkscrew”) Beaton’s portrait of Mick Jagger’s bottom, saying that “no-one but a poofter would want to have it in his drawing room.”?


The OBSERVER tells us that Junor is to offer his services to the Conservative Party to tell them “how to get the message over effectively”. I would think he means his “continuing services”—his whole journalistic career has been spent in the service of the Tories, and it is openly acknowledged that his knighthood was bestowed by Mrs T. for services in this respect. Oh aren’t you just thrilled that we have such a free and impartial press in Britain?


This year’s Lesbian and Gay Pride Festival might well have been wet but the spirits of those who attended weren’t dampened. Coverage in the papers was not entirely absent this year, but it was sparse and very mixed.

The communist MORNING STAR reported the festival sympathetically: “The 8,000 strong Lesbian and Gay Pride parade made its cheerful way noisily from Hyde Park to Kennington Park, their banners telling the story of the width of the gay community.” They also carried a preview of the event explaining the Gay’s the Word triumph. [Note: Gay’s the Word bookshop was taken to court by HM Customs and Excise, charged with importing indecent material. The Court threw the case out and HM Customs dropped the charges after a large-scale campaign of protest.]

But in the mainstream press it was the usual menu of abuse or indifference. With one exception, and you can put this down as a red-letter day. Yes, a national daily newspaper actually said something sympathetic about gays. TODAY carried an opinion piece by Sarah Gibbings headed “Gays deserve better than this.” Ms Gibbings wrote: “They came from all over Britain to show that they refuse to be victims or to be seen as public health threats, and to assert their right to belong to the human race. Most important of all they marched to remind all of us that an appalling disease has been unwittingly brought into our society and to encourage all of us to find a cure.” It. would be carping to tell Ms Gibbings that we weren’t really marching to ask for a place “in the human race” but to tell those bigots who are trying to ostracise us that they ought to try being human themselves, I’m sure they’d find a novel experience.

But we mustn’t get the idea that TODAY is suddenly going to show the other papers a new humanity, for in the very next issue we read: “What is appalling is that classified advertisements in some newspapers and magazines carry ads for new gay partners. As this kind of promiscuous homosexual activity is reported to be largely responsible for the spread of this scourge, surely a ban should be placed on them.”

The LONDON STANDARD gave us their good wishes during Pride Week with a story headlined: “Festival of shame by London gays.” This referred to Hackney council’s contribution to the festivities. The paper’s usual technique of finding the single dissenting voice and giving it major prominence was used. The honours this time go to Councillor Joe Lobenstein, Tory opposition leader in Hackney: “This is the most shameful exercise the council has organised for years,” he ranted. “To highlight the lives of people who live an unnatural and sinful life is to my mind the greatest shame that this borough can embark upon.”

The DAILY MAIL was more than pleased to carry the story the following day, and so was the EXPRESS, embroidering it a little with an earth-shattering revelation that not only was money being given to gays to educate themselves about Aids but that it was ‘proposed’ to give gays priority in the housing queue. It was a proposal that was not part of council policy and never likely to be, but it provided THE EXPRESS with the headline they’d been looking for: “A gay way to jump the housing queue—give them extra points.”

Finally, THE SUN didn’t mention the British Pride march but it managed a paragraph on the American one, telling its (no doubt very amused) readers that the parade was led by a group called “Dykes on Bikes.” Little do they realise that the joke is on them.


Paul Johnson, writing in THE SPECTATOR, wheeled out that corny old point about homosexuals ‘stealing’ the word “gay” and corrupting it. He calls it “a monstrous piece of verbal larceny”. He says that “nothing has done more to turn people against homosexuals than this impudent hijack, and in their own interests they ought to switch to another. Some people, I hear, now call themselves ‘Gaids’, but this is obviously offensive. My solution … is simply to reverse the terms and call them ‘yags’. But what say readers?”

Well, this reader says that Paul Johnson seems to be stuck in some kind of time-warp dated about 1953. I don’t want to think of a new word to describe my sexuality thank you, but I can think of a new word for Paul Johnson. Unfortunately, the libel laws do not allow me to tell you what it is.


The whole of the front page of The Star was taken up by a headline reading “Gay lovers on Royal Yacht—shock as Fergie and Andrew plan honeymoon.” This gave a new twist to those interminable stories about the dreary Royal wedding. It also hounded a man out of his job, but that’s the unfortunate price that gays have to pay in order to provide copy for those great loyalists in Fleet Street. “Navy set to boot out gay Britannia sailor” crooned The Sun, picking the story up when it had reached a satisfactorily tragic conclusion for them.

This is a classic example of pure malice and irresponsibility of the tabloid press when it comes to gay issues. For not only have they managed to ruin this man’s career they have also managed to reinforce the idea that gays should automatically be victimised when they are ‘found out’ by crummy journalists.