Dr Goebbels was Hitler’s minister for propaganda. It was his job to twist, distort and invent news and create government-approved opinion in the minds of the German people.
If he had been alive today it’s likely he would be editing the London EVENING STANDARD.
This detestable paper has such a consistent policy of misrepresenting groups it judges to be “dissident” that it must be regarded as nothing but a mouth-piece for the establishment. It operates just like Pravda in Russia, telling its readers only what the regime wants them to know.
Gays are frequent victims of the smearing campaigns — as are CND, the GLC and the Greenham Peace Women.
Recently the GLC made a grant to the London Gay Teenage Group. THE STANDARD blasted the news with three-inch headlines: “Rates Grant for Teenage Gays.” It went into detail about the objections raised by the seemingly permanently ‘outraged’ Tories on the GLC. It did not mention why the grant was given or needed.
However, a few days earlier the GLC had made a grant to a half-way house for rehabilitating mental patients back into the community: this is an area the Tories have neglected scandalously. The grant was ten times the size of the one given to the gay teenagers. THE STANDARD gave the story three paragraphs on the last news page.
It is THE STANDARD which is almost totally responsible for creating the myth that the GLC gives away half its rates to gays. Neither the Nazis nor the Kremlin would be unfamiliar with THE STANDARD’S tactics.
At last a little bit of sanity in the matter of caring for AIDS victims.
Following the hysterical refusal of a Home Office Coroner to do a post mortem on a suspected AIDS death, the Royal College of Nursing’s Margaret Lee said in the college’s newspaper: “As a profession which says nursing is exclusively our prerogative, we can’t suddenly opt out because of our taboos and fears.”
It takes people with real dedication to talk like that. Are you listening Professor Keith Simpson?
IN 1978 a man called Dan White marched into City Hall, San Francisco and murdered the Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, the city’s first elected “out” gay official. White was given a seven-year jail sentence and, by the time you read this, he will have been released.
In The Observer William Scobie tells of the feelings of fury still fermenting in the Castro area of San Francisco, the famous gay ghetto. “The wounds are still fresh, still festering,” said Harry Britt, a gay activist who took over Harvey Milk’s seat on the board. “White is a walking provocation if he stays here.”
White’s derisory sentence for such a cold-blooded and calculated double-murder underlines the frightening corruption that seems endemic in American public life.
I hate retribution and feel that revenge only degrades — but if this swaggering murderer were to be picked off by some vengeful homosexual I would shed tears only for a gay brother who felt driven to such an act.
The Daily Mirror reports that Mrs Mary Whitehouse won ‘substantial’ libel damages against the Observer because it published an extract from a book which said “she was the sort of person who would have been at home in Nazi Germany.”
I, of course, have nothing to add.
In a superb feature in The New Statesman, ex-Gay News literary editor Alison Hennegan exposes the hypocrisy at work in the world of literature and literary criticism.
She tells of how, when she worked on the old Gay News, she would approach well-known writers whom she knew to be gay and ask them to contribute. Desperately afraid that their reputations would be ‘tainted’ they invariably refused.
She also tackles the old chestnut of our choice of the word ‘gay’ to describe ourselves. “‘Gay’ and ‘lesbian’ say quite clearly that sex is always political: individuals can never experience it — however passionately they may long to do — in an emotional and moral vacuum insulated from the beliefs, values and conflicts which shape the rest of society.”
Hope New Statesman readers are receptive.
JEAN ROOK (self-appointed First Lady of Fleet Street, but known to her friends as the First Twat of THE DAILY EXPRESS) used her column in THE DAILY EXPRESS to choose Christmas presents for famous people.
For Boy George she would like to give “Girl George”. And if that isn’t nauseating enough she says of Prince Charles: “A night out with the boys — to remind him that he was once one of them…”
Does the crow know something that we don’t?
TENNIS ace Billie Jean King has spoken about the consequences of her 7-year lesbian affair with hairdresser Marilyn Barnett. Unfortunately, Ms King’s only concern seems to be that she lost money by having her image ‘ruined’.
Silly Billie must join the ever-lengthening list of public figures who foolishly imagined that the closet was a safe place to be. It’s only when they’ve been dragged kicking and screaming out into the open that these unfortunate people have to acknowledge that the press is merciless in playing on their dishonesty.
Starting with Oscar Wilde and progressing through Jeremy Thorpe, Commander Tresstrail and Peter Tatchell, who all had to come clean after rather undignified denials, we have a terrifying list of ruined lives and wasted talent.
If Billie Jean and her ilk had been proud of their gayness they might have found some sort of respect for their courage. However, it would be foolish to believe that any public person at present languishing behind a barrier of lies is going to be the first to take the step.
But being up-front in the first place is the only way to rob the media of its gloating exposés.
Once again, the fearless truth-mongers of Fleet Street have proved that no-one is safe in the closet. Wherever gay public figures hide, the press will winkle them out.
Poor old Martina Navratilova got the treatment over her relationship with Judy Nelson. Martina makes no secret of her sexuality, but poor Judy went straight into the “we’re just good friends” attitude. “My role is a kind of therapy for her. We are not having a love affair,” says Judy in THE SUNDAY MIRROR.
In THE SUNDAY PEOPLE she says “it’s ridiculous” to say they are lovers.
Meanwhile, ancient editor of THE SUNDAY EXPRESS, Sir John Junor lost the points I awarded him last month when he told Judy she was a fool to abandon heterosexual bliss in favour of “that hatchet faced lesbian”. You’re a silly pillock, Sir John.
But wait — who is this unexpected defender of our Martina? None other than old chisel-face herself, Jean Rook. In THE DAILY EXPRESS she takes male journalists to task for ignoring Martina’s superb tennis and concentrating on her “navvy shoulders” and unconventional looks.
After complaining that the Wimbledon champ doesn’t fancy her (can’t understand why, I’m sure) Rook says: “I object to the Oscar Wildean witch-hunt of this unusual and lonely figure, who doesn’t please men.” If Rook hadn’t spent so much time harassing gay people in the past, this might not ring quite so hollow.
And, much as they try to snipe at her, our Martina glides from triumph to triumph. And that’s something none of the bastards can take away from her.
Then THE SUN (“You scum,” Martina calls them — game, set and match Navratilova) caught up with Bill Buckley, star of the That’s Life TV show. Some disgruntled girl had shopped Bill to THE SCUM because he’d been “sleeping with” her boyfriend James. This was page one “news”.
After that we were treated to, the unedifying spectacle of Su (Hi-de-Hi) Pollard’s new husband being prised out of the closet in a rather sordid court case. “My Gay Love for Su’s Man” screeched the DAILY STAR on its front page.
There can be little doubt that the editors of the tabloid newspapers in this country are all on high-fibre diets. How else would they be able to produce a daily pile of shit with such monotonous regularity?
An interesting development in America was reported in THE GUARDIAN. The latest thing for male gay couples in the super-rich state of California is to “buy” a baby in Guatamala and smuggle it back to the United States. Such is their desperation to be parents that they are prepared to risk everything to have a child of their own. All the established methods of adoption are closed to gay couples.
The description of the risks they took reads like a rather unlikely novel, and the article was very sympathetic. “In his neat little jump suit in his baby chair, the baby had fallen asleep, just like any other much-loved baby anywhere in the world.” Everybody say “aah”.
A lovely feature in THE TIMES describes the exhibition at the Berlin Historical Museum documenting gay history in the Weimar Period. Before Hitler started sending the gay men and lesbians to concentration camps, there was a flourishing “scene” in the German capital.
Of course, there was opposition to the exhibition but this had the effect of making the organisers more determined to go ahead. “The museum itself, originally lukewarm about the project, said it became fully committed only when it experienced at first hand “the abuse and vehemence of anti-homosexual feeling.”
Can you imagine the British Museum organising something like this? That’ll be the day.
LONDON readers will hardly have been able to avoid the ubiquitous posters advertising the Argentinian God-shouter, Luis Palau.
This wanna-be Billy Graham (who is also wending his vulgar way around the country) hired the QPR football ground to tell those who already believe it that Jesus Saves. The hoardings show Mr Palau sitting on a throne-like chair, apparently floating in the clouds. No doubt practising to be God.
Anyway, according to THE EALING GAZETTE, our Luis tells his hysterical audience, (to the strains of the traitorous Cliff Richard) that “the blood of Jesus cleanses homosexuality, criminality and drug addiction.” The posters on the tube said simply “Bring your doubts”. Some wag had written underneath “and have them confirmed”.
I never thought I’d be joining in the cry of “Send them back where they came from” — but in the case of Luis Palau and Billy Graham, I’ll make an exception.
A frightening report in the SUNDAY EXPRESS tells of the blatantly racist French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen who is peddling the old “pure race” ideas. “He considers homosexuality a scandal and a threat to the birth-rate”, the article says. And Le Pen wants more and more “babies born of good French stock” and that means no foreigners and no homosexuals who delay the process of producing this Gallic master race.
Like all the other mental cases who’ve pushed these ideas before him, Le Pen is full of hatred, and seems to have unlimited venom for the minorities he has chosen as scapegoats.
Unlike our own National Front, who don’t seem to, be able to make much impression at all, Le Pen’s French National Front managed to poll eleven per cent of the votes in the recent European election. That represents an awful lot of foolish Frenchmen — with apparently very short memories.
The present strong gay influence on rock and pop music is now the talk of the tabloids. Several months after they were spotted by this magazine, THE SUN carried a feature on the amazing Frankie Goes to Hollywood. One of the group’s members Paul Rutherford says: “In fact it’s only Holly Johnson and I who are gay… There are far more important things to worry about than the fact some people go with blokes rather than women.” Whilst in THE DAILY EXPRESS, Bronski Beat (you could have read it in HIM months ago) – were featured with the comment: “There are so many clubs featuring gay nights that the boystown chart has been established to register the leading dance records.”
Anti-gay hysteria reigns in Fleet Street and this month it has reached a new pitch. Using homosexuality as a blunt instrument with which to bash its political enemies, the Right-wing papers have poured relentless scorn, slander and hatred over us.
“Fury over sex-classes for under-16s at GLC on-the-rates gay centre” rambled a headline in the DAILY EXPRESS as it led into another of the ‘storms’ which seem to emanate mainly from the gin glasses of the well-patronised wine bars of Fleet Street. This was one of those totally fabricated ‘controversies’ which are of interest to no-one except the creepy propagandists of the press who have the uncanny ability to turn innocent activities into sinister-sounding goings-on. It was a classic of the genre.
The inventor of this particular flight of fancy was John Burns. He managed to turn the Gay Youth Movement’s Spring Festival into a “bizarre workshop” attended almost exclusively, according to him, by paedophiles. There was not a scrap of evidence to support any of the insinuations he made, not one fact to justify the shock-horror approach. And if you need any further proof that it was just another excuse to have a go at gays, just look who we have crawling from under his stone, with the every-ready quote, none other than our friend, Geoffrey Dickens MP. “It’s disgraceful,” he ‘stormed’, “Every parent ought to be concerned. This weekend must be cancelled.”
The other rent-a-gob Tory, Peter Bruinvels, was hammering on the door of that weird organ THE SUN when it revealed there was to be a gay storyline in ‘Dynasty’. He ‘stormed’ “It is sick and sad that the producers have revived the homosexual element. We don’t want this kind of thing on British TV.”
What kind of thing, exactly? Well, according to the SUN “the new affair will be more explicit. Steven is shown holding hands with Luke and hugging.” Aaaargh! Quick, pull the covers down over the piano legs, cover the children’s eyes—hugging! Whatever next?
Well, for that we have to return to THE DAILY EXPRESS for the wicked witch of the west, Jean Rook, to tell us about Greenwich Council’s decision to promote better understanding of homosexuality in its schools. Leading with her not-inconsiderable chin, the Rook crowed: “I believe in being tolerant of fairies and I don’t go round pulling off their wings. But let no man—let alone a recognised and practically qualified ‘teacher’ of the subject—attempt to teach my son how to fly off the standard course.”
A week later she was at it again: “as a 1985 mother, I’d sooner burn that classroom speech (in defence of Oscar Wilde) than deliver it to an increasingly warped and bent section of society which ill-names itself Gay. Gay? They are a miserable bunch of fanatics who spend their lives dismally pretending to revel in what they are. And outrageously trying to recruit others … Now my backlash is complete … to red Hell with Oscar Wilde!”
Jean Rook puts me increasingly in mind of one of those Daleks who screech “Exterminate! Exterminate!” in a rising pitch until eventually a fuse blows and a little wisp of smoke comes out of the top. I believe she’s now been sedated and taken back to The Home.
Then we come to turncoat ex-union leader and now Tory toadie, Lord Frank Chapple. “The latest idea from Greenwich council is as queer as I’ve seen,” he wrote in THE DAILY MAIL. “Apparently the council’s education sub-committee wants school children to be taught the ‘riches … of homosexual experience!’ I say, no way.”
But who the hell cares what Frank says? He lost his credence a long time ago.
Predictably the election of Bob Crossman as the first ‘out’ mayor in the London Borough of Islington provoked the papers to sneers. They obviously couldn’t cope with it in any other way. George Gale in THE DAILY EXPRESS said: “Homosexuals usually like dressing up. Bob Crossman and his boyfriend might fancy themselves in ‘mayor and mayoress’ gowns and chains. We will then be able to consider the lilies of Islington. They toil not neither do they spin—but Solomon in all his glory would not be arrayed like one of these.”
I suggest you go and lie down with a Valium, George.
Another columnist with a lot of impotent rage is Alan Williams in THE MAIL ON SUNDAY. “Now all this is very amusing,” he sneers, “But such idiocies have sinister implications… While we continue to deride Victorian values and giggle at the novelties of trendy ‘sexual politics’, in the end we find it is the grim, humourless zealots of the Left who have the last laugh. And when they do … we may think it about as funny as a bread queue on a cold day in Siberia.”
So, that’s how we’re going to bring down Western civilisation is it? I’d often wondered.
Straight critics, even in the gutter papers, were over the moon about Oscar-winning gay film The Times of Harvey Milk. lain Johnstone in THE OBSERVER said it was “an historical document of lasting value” and “one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.” Philip French in THE SUNDAY TIMES found it “an eloquent and deeply moving picture” whilst THE MAIL ON SUNDAY critic defied “anyone not to be moved by it”. Clive Hirschhorn of THE SUNDAY EXPRESS conceded that the film “deservedly won an Oscar”, whilst Neil Sinyard in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH said, “the film was ultimately a wide-ranging plea for tolerance and it is hard to imagine anyone not responding to it.”
Only the DAILY TELEGRAPH found sympathy with Dan White, Harvey Milk’s assassin. Trying to make excuses for the double murder, THE TELEGRAPH said: “It was perhaps due to a subconscious fear that with the multiplication of homosexuals, reproduction must eventually cease altogether, a powerful influence toward self-preservation, as it were.”
If, even after seeing the film, this man could write such twaddle, we should bear in mind the words of Derek Malcolm in THE GUARDIAN: “It shows how minorities only have to work together to gain meaningful power, and how ordinary people can be persuaded that those they have originally feared, or even hated, can work with them towards the same general good.”
If you haven’t seen the film, I urge you to do so. But for those who are not in London—start lobbying your local art cinema or film society to include it on their programme. And a letter to the film buyers at the TV stations wouldn’t go amiss.
“I cannot imagine a Christian society in which divorce, abortion, sexual relationships before marriage and homosexuality are tolerated,” said the Pope in Holland.
Coming as he does from the Vatican’s long line of thieves, murderers and criminals, John Paul II seems a comparatively mild Pope. But his dotty doctrines, with their nonsensical and inhumane demands, got a rough ride in the Netherlands last month.
How comforting it was to see the Popemobile being pelted with eggs and bottles. How gratifying to see the ghastly old duffer squirming in his chair as his ‘supporters’ gave him an earful. According to the DAILY TELEGRAPH he sat ‘stony-faced’ as a missionary leader, Henrietta Wasser, told him off for his attitudes to sexual matters. She says he “points the finger instead of extending the hand.”
Remember Donna (born-again) Summers? She’s the singer who rode to fame on the backs of her gay fans and then said: “Homosexuals have brought Aids on themselves. The disease is a retribution from God”.
Now the EVENING STANDARD reports she is “attempting a reconciliation with her fans.”
This probably means Donna’s short of a bob or two. Well, as far as I’m concerned she can piss off and ask Billy Graham for a loan.
Nobody will be surprised by the stopping of the grant to the London Lesbian and Gay Centre. In reporting the decision, THE NEW STATEMAN asks: “What gloss did the clerks of the DoE come up with to save the ‘human face’ of Kenneth Baker?” Nothing feasible, I’m afraid. But that hasn’t stopped THE SUN calling it a “seedy pick-up joint” and THE DAILY MAIL repeating the slander. THE MAIL ON SUNDAY also calls it a “pick-up joint” —even though not one of the writers has ever been near it.
I LOOK forward to seeing you all on the Pride March. Fleet Street has made it important that we all show up this year —so please make the effort.
Realising that he has latched onto an easy source of cheap publicity, Bernard Manning has renewed his attack on gays. A report in THE SUN told us that he had appeared on the Joan Rivers Show, which is being made by the BBC for transmission in April. Manning is reported to have made crude and cruel jokes about Aids and said that “The idea of homosexuals sticking their tongues down each other’s throats is disgusting.” A member of the studio audience told THE SUN: “Manning turned the air blue. If it had not been a TV show, I would have got up and walked out.”
A few days later THE STAR picked up the story and, after asking Joan Rivers for a comment, made it the front-page lead. She obliged by calling Manning a “fat pig … tremendous hypocrite … and even a secret homosexual.”
Manning didn’t like that last one. “To say I’m a secret homosexual is going too far. That makes me very angry. My mother is 85 and that sort of thing could really upset her.”
Oh deary me. Diddums do it. But you can’t have it all ways, Porky darling, if you’re in the insults game, you’ve got to be prepared to get as good as you give.
Jean Rook, who is not ashamed to designate herself The First Lady of Fleet Street, commented on the spat between Manning and Rivers in THE DAILY EXPRESS. “The ugly-tongued pair were made for each other,” she said. “They should walk off hand-in-trotter. Into their bloody sunset.”
Given her own dexterity with the poison pen, it might well be a case of the kettle-calling-the-frying-pan-calling-the-dish-rag smelly.
Another moaning minny (if I might borrow a phrase from a well-known megalomaniac) is Geoffrey Dickens, Tory MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth. He’s the one formulating plans to get Britain’s gay clubs and pubs closed down, ostensibly to “stop the spread of Aids”. Now, according to THE SUN, he’s had a “death threat” from someone in Amsterdam. The letter said: “Educate yourself about Aids before pursuing the closedown. You drive the gay community underground and we’ll take you with it.”
It ended with a Latin phrase roughly translated as “watch out for the hangman’s rope.”
But if Mr Dickens makes such dire threats at a whole community can he really complain if they hit back – even if it’s only with a letter? I understand that Mrs Thatcher averages ten death threats a week – and that’s only from Michael Heseltine.
Dreary Dickens goes on to say: “I haven’t got it in for the gay community.” The question is: has someone got it in for him?
Let’s face it, Geoffrey Dickens is one of those pathetic politicians (Peter Bruinvels is another) who think that by having their names in the papers all the time they can fool their constituents into believing that it’s the same as actually doing something useful. They rush at each opportunity to an ever-eager SUN with an extreme quote about Aids or gays or child sex or prostitution or whatever the latest media craze is. Because journalists describe them as “raging” “angry” or “furious” it gives the impression that they actually give a toss about the issues they’re blabbing about.
I’m afraid that like Bernard Manning, these men are just cynical media manipulators.
“London rape duo ‘homosexual’ link” was the nonsensical headline in the LONDON STANDARD over an equally silly story. According to police who are hunting two men responsible for 27 rapes of women in the capital, the perpetrators “could be homosexual”. The police don’t explain why two gay men should be involved.
Donning my Holmesian deerstalker I have done a spot of deduction on this case. Because these men are obviously callous, brutish, insensitive, amoral and as cunning as sin, it leads me to conclude that one is a policeman and the other is a journalist.
Channel Four’s BROTHERS achieved one ambition for the gay community. At last we have a sit-com with gay characters you can like and admire. Although American in origin, it has tried to tackle the issues without fudging too much. The gay angles are sympathetic and strongly drawn. The gay characters are as rounded as can reasonably be expected in such a setting.
Individual episodes walked a tightrope of bad taste, pulling back at the last minute from being offensive in order to let the gays win in the end. Naturally it is necessary to introduce the bigotry for it to be knocked it down.
The only thing that fails to convince is the fact that the gay brother, Clifford (Paul Regina), moons around making out he can’t find a “special (man) friend”. And yet he is handsome, well-built, charming, witty and everything anybody could want. His older, heterosexual brother, Joe, on the other hand, has managed to get himself several girlfriends during the course of the first series—one of whom made such violent love to him that the pictures trembled on the walls.
Never mind, I’m told that another fifty episodes have been commissioned and surely such a divine creature as Paul Regina cannot retain his virginity for that long. I’d make the pictures tremble with him any day.
The attitudes of the medical profession to gays is becoming increasingly important as the Aids crisis deepens. The idea of doctors displaying Manning-type tendencies when Aids is on the agenda is frightening. It was interesting, therefore, to see a comment in The BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL on the subject. “When Oscar Wilde was sentenced to a prison term for a homosexual offence it is said that the harlots danced for joy in the streets—while when he was travelling to Reading Goal bystanders on a station platform spat in his face. Since then the attitudes of the public in general and of doctors in particulars have changed—or have they?”
The question was prompted because for the past three years the BMJ has been carrying a small, discreetly-worded advertisement for the Gay Medical Association. Nothing unusual you might say, but the editors were shocked by the vituperative letters they received, demanding the ad’s withdrawal. “Am I to construe that the BMA and the editorial committee support the activities of such a band of homosexual perverts?” said one, while another ranted: “… you may well be condoning and facilitating behaviour that … is wrong in that it is both perverted and immoral.”
A debate was forced at the Annual Representative Meeting of the BMA, with a motion demanding the removal of the advertisement. I’m pleased to say it was rejected—but one wonders just how representative of the medical profession in general these letter-writers were?
Paranoia bloomed briefly last month when Dr John Seale (“a Harley Street specialist” according to THE GUARDIAN) put forward the theory that the Aids virus was man-made for use in germ warfare. The Guardian could find no evidence to support such a theory. However, the London listings magazine CITY LIMITS took the story up and revealed that “More home-grown CIA ‘plant’ theories were mooted by some in the US gay movement itself … In Christopher Street, New York, the most serious ‘conspiracy’ theory has been researched by a team of journalists working on The New York Native—a gay newspaper … Their theory is not that the virus was ‘manufactured’ but that the State Department has been involved in a massive cover-up about the nature of the disease. They suggest this is because it involves the possible infestation of US cattle and any speculation along these lines would threaten the whole US agricultural budget.”
Well, it’s food for thought.
On the Aids front again, sombre features were included in THE SUNDAY TIMES and the NEWS OF THE WORLD. The NoW two-page spread reported on the work of “New York specialist in the disease” Dr Joseph Sonnabend. He told horrific tales of cases he had treated and the rejection and vilification of the victims. “This disease has brought out the very worst in human beings. A complete lack of compassion. Sufferers are just walking the streets in total despair. People are terrified to be in the same room as them.”
Sonnabend puts some of the blame for the panic on the powerful Aids Medical Foundation which he helped to launch and from which he has now resigned. “It started spreading social messages I found horrendous,” he said. “It suggested the disease could be passed on by prostitutes and was going to eventually wipe everyone out. The truth is there is no sign of the disease spreading outside the groups at risk—homosexuals, drug addicts and people who had transfusions with infected blood.”
Dr Sonnabend assures us he is not anti-gay but, he says, there can be no doubt that Aids has “spread amongst homosexuals because of the promiscuous lifestyle of some.” The NoW made much of this with a banner across the top of the feature reading “Promiscuity and depravity have spread this.” However, the paper admits that things are changing and Sonnabend says: “Aids in America is beginning to decrease. Homosexuals are being more careful. …I believe Aids will eventually disappear.”
I sincerely hope he’s right. But in the meantime the people who’ve fallen victim already are dying in terrible circumstances. THE SUNDAY TIMES did a follow-up report on the story of John Coffee, a young American haemophiliac who, when he discovered he had Aids, offered himself as a guinea pig for research. He endured all kinds of treatments and therapies, some of them extremely painful. His wife continued to kiss and cuddle him until the end proving, as she said, that “Aids is a difficult disease to catch.”
There can be little doubt that The Sun now has a settled and co-ordinated anti-gay campaign under way. Their coverage of gay issues is so relentless, so grindingly negative that no-one can avoid the conclusion that at some stage the reporters must have been briefed to dig as much gay dirt as they can. And if they can’t find any dirt, then they should soil the truth. Let’s look at some of this month’s offerings from the pages of that ghastly rag. To start with, I have mixed feelings about the question-and-answer interview with Jimmy Somerville which appeared in THE SUN (22 Dec). One half of me says it’s good that Jimmy should be asked questions which some of his fans must long to know the answers to. (“How bothered are you about Aids”, “Have you ever made love to a woman?” “Have you ever dressed up in women’s clothes?”). But the other half of me wonders what the purpose of these prurient questions were. Do they raise consciousness or do they just reinforce misunderstandings and misconceptions? I don’t know, but I couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable about it. Especially given some of the other stories that the Sun has carried over the past month.
For instance, Rock Hudson’s house was the star of another of another of the Sun’s Aids misinformation pieces. Apparently the dead actor’s house is still up for sale and no-one will by it. Hudson’s butler is quoted as saying: “They seem petrified of touching any of Rock’s belongings. They won’t even have a glass of water or a cup of tea because they have to drink from Rock’s glasses or crockery…” The whole tone of the story gives credence to the superstition that Aids somehow something more than just a disease that it has supernatural powers that allow it to linger in wait for the unwary. Some hope for the Government’s weedy education campaign in the face of such powerful misinformation.
29 December and THE SUN treated us to quotes from “tough guy” rock singer Gary Moore. “I don’t know how people can like the Communards. That guy Somerville has done for gays what Sam Fox did for feminism. He’s not exactly the acceptable face of gayness, is he? If anyone was undecided in their attitude to homosexuals, Jimmy Somerville would make your mind up for you – against them. He’s an ugly, no-talent creep.”
On 30 December, Jimmy was in THE SUN again, this time chiding The Pet Shop Boys for not coming out of the closet. “They have to be more upfront. It’s their duty to other gays. I don’t associate myself with the Pet Shop Boys because they still won’t publicly admit they’re gay. It really annoys me that they call their album Disco but don’t admit its relationship to gayness.”
On 6 January The Sun treated us to “What Fowler will see in Gay City where one in 15 has Aids”. The story by classic scab journo Neil Wallis began: “Health Secretary Norman Fowler is going on an Aids fact-finding mission to San Francisco later this month.” What Mr Fowler will see is a Sun reader’s nightmare come true. “Gays wear one of 14 different coloured handkerchiefs in the back pocket of their Levis. That signals to the world the particular perversion they prefer… It’s claimed that promiscuity among gays has stopped, but it’s only a claim! ,,, In Frisco today freak means old-fashioned, long-haired hippies advocating love between the sexes. It doesn’t mean out-of-the-ordinary. Well, it couldn’t, could it?”
And so it goes on. I’d just like Mr Wallis to know that if he goes to San Franciso and the powerful gay community gets to hear about it, he’s likely to leave more than his heart there.
On 12 Jan we were regaled with a silly (even by The Sun’s standards) non-story about a group of very minor TV stars going out for a “night on the town” in Manchester and ending up in Napoleon’s gay club. “Burley telly Sergeant Major Windsor Davies didn’t care much for the company of “the lovely boys” and did “a quick about turn”. The Sun tells us that the rest of them “brazened it out for a while. If The Sun is trying to tell us that these showbiz innocent had “accidentally” went to Napoleon’s with no previous knowledge of its style, they can go and tell it to the Marines.
More worrying though is the nasty twisting of a story about a gay group in Cambridge (18 Jan.) advising its members not to be tested for HIV infection. Anyone who has heard the whole story will know that this is sound advice, but in the hands of The Sun leader writer gay groups become “an evil force in the land” and gay activists “deserve to be treated as pariahs. They deserve to be locked away where they can do no more harm.”
On another page in the same issue there was a story about a police swoop on a cottage in Victoria Station in which, according to THE SUN, “police have arrested 68 gays in a massive anti-vice swoop.” An un-named “commuter” was quoted as saying: “It was a degrading sight to see evil middle aged men preying on young boys.”
The Sun has also told us over the past month that nasty lesbians are tormenting poor, innocent drug-pusher Rosie Johnston in prison, they also called for the shooting of the Barlinnie jail protestors and asserted that the National Union of Journalists was trying to create a totalitarian state for daring to fine their wonderful reporters. Talk about seeing the world through a looking glass—it seems The Sun has this wonderful facility for turning everything inside out and making it into the opposite of what it really is.
But who are the people behind The Sun? I ask this question because I am genuinely curious to know what sort of men they are. Are they really as nasty, greedy, violent, treacherous and downright rotten as their writings suggest?
Over the past few months The Sun has pursued the gay community and gay individuals with the ferocity of a shark in a feeding frenzy. Their editorial condemnations of us become more and more extreme—whether it be exhortations to James Anderton to “treat the perverts with the contempt they deserve” or calling for the locking up of gay rights activists because they are an “evil threat to society.” Some of their news items wouldn’t disgrace the pages of the National Front’s organ Bulldog.
They are very fond of calling anyone in public life who is vaguely ‘liberal’ “enemies of the nation” and “fifth columnists”. Indeed, anyone to the left of Mussolini is considered a communist infiltrator. And although The Sun has become something of a music hall joke, it is far from funny for those who are its victims. It won’t do any more to write it off as a silly comic not to be taken seriously. Four million people in this country take it seriously enough to shell out good money day after day to read the filth that mad Murdoch’s running dogs churn out. The Sun is a serious threat not only to the quality of our lives but now to our very existence, because the Sun’s baleful influence extends far beyond its own pages. Its complete lack of ethical standards has ensured that the other papers have had to follow it down into the gutter in order to survive the vicious circulation war.
I am not alone in my fear of the uncheckable abuses perpetrated by The Sun and its imitators. Jeremy Seabrook wrote in THE GUARDIAN (22 Dec) of the sinister purposes behind The Sun’s apparently cheerful populism. “What we are living through is a sustained attempt to resurrect the mob. The newspapers and the junk videos portray people, in the language of The Sun, as dirty rats and filthy swine, as animals and beasts; a vast human bestiary has been reinvented which systematically represents people as corrupt, treacherous and venal in contrast to whom, in this simple Manichean world, the good is represented by money.”
Seabrook tells us that papers like The Sun are creating an atmosphere that will pave the way, after Thatcherism has failed, for something far worse. He says that as the country disintegrates financially and socially the door will be open for the fascists to take over. This is where the frightening picture of life in this country presented by the popular press comes in. If Joe Public can be convinced that the country they love has become a “cesspit” of degradation then the new Fuhrer will have an easy cruise to power. Aids is providing the terrible tool for this end to be achieved. “Britain which is increasingly unrecognisable as the familiar and loved home place has become more and more like the future site of the second coming of those brutalities which we went to war to defeat less than half a century ago,” wrote Seabrook.
We have to recognise that the real enemy of the people is The Sun newspaper and all the others that aspire to be its clones. And yet we are powerless to stop this wilful distortion. The freedom of the press was once sacred, but Rupert Murdoch and his evil crew have made the concept of a free press into a sick joke. Press freedom in the hands of the seekers after wealth has become an insidious 1icence to distort, persecute, incite hatred and generally brutalise readers. If any attempt is made to stop this undemocratic abuse of their enormous power the papers instantly cry “censorship. The ruthless and unscrupulous men behind The Sun are the real fifth columnists in our country, undermining all traditions of tolerance and debate. They must be curbed—for all our sakes.
Newspaper correspondence columns are fairly predictable, each paper having its own style. THE MAIL and THE EXPRESS voice the opinion of middle-England, the retired middle-classes and the aspiring working classes. The letters pages in these papers have an unhealthy preoccupation with the death penalty, with ‘dole scroungers’ and ‘teenage layabouts’. They write in endlessly about how disastrous Labour is and how utterly heavenly they consider Maggie to be. They have simple and painless answers to all the world’s most complex problems—painless for themselves, that is. For other people it usually involves death or imprisonment.
It was not surprising, then, to find the correspondence columns filled, day after day, with letters supporting James Anderton, the only chief constable with a hotline to God. And this particular crop of letters was even more bloodthirsty than usual. So much hatred poured from them that I eventually became too depressed to read any more. It began to seem that if Margaret Thatcher were to legalise lynching for homosexuals tomorrow, her opinion poll rating would race ahead.
Then, suddenly, cracks began to appear in what had seemed almost unanimous support for the Mancunian Prophet. Even old John Junor in The SUNDAY EXPRESS (21 Dec) was moved to write, during one of his weekly diatribes against gays: “There is about him (Anderton) an unctuous self-righteousness which makes me wince. Nor do I warm to his pronouncement that he said what he did because he had received guidance from God …In view of everything that has happened, would not Manchester be a better place from a police point of view if Mr Anderton were to receive further guidance from God to hand in his resignation, too?”
Dennis Hackett, the new editor of TODAY wrote (23 Dec): “I have now begun to wonder whether it could be that Mr Anderton is not, after all, on a direct line to the Supreme Being, but is in fact talking to himself and mistaking his alter ego for the Almighty?”
Even THE NEWS OF THE WORLD (21 Dec) managed a critical editorial (although it was in unusually small print, and looked strangely out of place, as though it had wandered into the wrong paper). “The Aids and gays debate is a POLITICAL issue, not a CRIMINAL issue, except where the law of the land is broken,” said the NoW. “Parliament, in its wisdom, decides what those laws should be. If Anderton wants to talk about what offends the LAW, that is one thing. What offends HIM should be kept to himself. It is right to wonder whether the people of Greater Manchester … are best served by a chief whose behaviour is not so much eccentric as plain daft, Stalker is going, Anderton is staying. Perhaps it would be better if BOTH went.”
The Archbishop of York criticised Anderton for his unhelpfulness in the face of the crisis and even the right-wing Police Federation rebuked him for “pontificating on moral issues”. According to THE GUARDIAN (15 Jan), Tony Judge, editor of the federation’s magazine, accused Anderton of “dragging the police into a moral debate that should not concern them.”
And so, perhaps, the most cheering headline of the month was in THE INDEPENDENT (13 Jan) “Police Feeling Mounts that Anderton Must Go”.
The Bible tells us that God reserves his greatest wrath for false prophets, so if I were James Anderton, I’d be seriously thinking of fixing a lightning conductor to the roof of Greater Manchester police Headquarters.
Until now, most straight people have avoided thinking very much about gay lifestyles, preferring to consider them rather exotic and not really to do with the real world. Aids has changed all that and gays have taken centre stage. There is no way that the Government, the press or the public can remain indifferent to our presence any more.
Naturally the long-held and deep-rooted prejudices needed to be expressed – and they have been, mostly in intemperate, vulgar and abusive terms. The bigots were first on the scene with “didn’t we tell you this would happen?” Our old enemies in the press have had a field day too. But now more reasoned debate is beginning. Religious leaders and politicians have realised that the screaming hysteria doesn’t very far towards solving problems.
It was good, therefore, to see an opinion piece in THE INDEPENDENT (9 Jan) written by Christina Baron, president of the Liberal Women’s Federation. She made the point that criticising gay men for being ‘promiscuous’ was unfair given society’s disapproval of gay relationships. “It is often not easy for heterosexual couples, even when married to society’s approval, to stay together. How much harder, then, for a homosexual couple? Is a colleague’s gay or lesbian partner as welcome as a spouse at the firm’s Christmas dance, the office party or the staff room? The heterosexual community wants it both ways – promiscuity is not acceptable, stable partnerships are not acceptable. If much of our society still cannot accept a homosexual couple then we shouldn’t be surprised if it is harder for them to stay together.”
One male gay couple who managed to stay together for 27 years are Saxon Lucas and Rodney Madden. Their relationship was examined in NEW SOCIETY (2 Jan). These two men are Christians, they consider their partnership to be, to all intents and purposes, a “marriage”. What they had promised each other – total sexual fidelity – would have seemed ridiculous and unrealistic to most gay people a few short years ago. Now it seems to be something that a lot of gay couples are striving for.
The structure of their relationship (“Rod is the boss-man, what Rod says goes. And when he says ‘no’, no it is,” says Saxon) may seem questionable to many. Surely marriages – or any other ostensibly exclusive relationship – can work without these dubious power-structures. Indeed, much of what these two men espouse as essential components of a successful long-term relationship would be anathema to the majority of people, gay or straight. The two of them have, apparently, embraced all the worst aspects of “marriage” along with the good bits. Women in particular have been trying to shrug off these negative elements for years.
If gays are going to go in for marriage (and it seems like a good idea at the moment), surely we can start at an advantage by learning from the mistakes of all those thousands of straight couples who’ve failed in the past.
By the way, the Marriage Guidance Council welcomes gay people to its counselling sessions – and has done for years.
Prime hate figure Jean Rook turned up on the Terry Wogan Show (BBC1) and showed herself to be a prize arsehole. Not only did she talk a lot of snobbish, sexist twaddle, she looked like Tutankhamen’s mother with the bandages off. And this is the woman who has the cheek to criticise other people for being ‘ugly’ and gays for being ‘fanatical’.
Seeing Mrs Rook in the (rather shrivelled) flesh robs her of some of her power to annoy. I’ll never be able to take her Daily Express jibes seriously gain. Yuch! She’s enough to put you off your cocoa.