HIM 70, June 1984

Terry Sanderson’s autobiography “The Reluctant Gay Activist” is now available on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reluctant-Gay-Activist-Terry-Sanderson/dp/B09BYN3DD9/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Except for an Agenda article by Andrew Lumsden and a couple of letters in the GUARDIAN, I could find no mention in the national papers of the worrying raid on Gay’s the Word bookshop.

The only other references I could find in the straight press were an article by Alison Hennegan in THE NEW STATESMAN and a news story in THE BOOKSELLER. With her usual perceptiveness, Alison Hennegan identified the reasons for the proliferation of gay literature over the last couple of years: “It has sprung from one overriding need: a hunger for truth after so many lies; and a determination that having once found the truth we would never again lose it to those with a vested interest in suppressing or controlling access to it.”

THE BOOKSELLER quotes Peter Strauch, department manager of Dillon’s University Bookshop: “We have been ordering books from American publishers for a considerable number of years, including titles stocked at Gay’s the Word. Other central London bookshops have also imported and sold these titles for a long time.”

Given this, isn’t it strange that Gay’s the Word should be singled out for special treatment by HM Customs and Excise?

Only when these book-burning philistines visit Foyles and remove their imports will I believe that the raid is anything other than a direct strike at gay communications.


The Tory-inspired DAILY EXPRESS just can’t leave Ken Livingstone alone. Their latest piece of crude propaganda was headed “The Great Dictator” and written by Peter Grosvenor. “Would Londoners, now paying rates for daft schemes to support gay movements, have voted so convincingly for Labour had they known Red Ken would be running the city?”

The answer to that, Mr Grosvenor, according to the latest opinion polls, is an overwhelming YES. So stuff that up your nostrils and sniff it.

As for Red Ken himself, well he refuses to back down on his support for gay rights simply for the sake of political expediency. He is reported in THE STANDARD as saying: “Being gay or Lesbian is natural for gay men and lesbians. This needs to be understood by the heterosexual majority. The GLC has endeavoured to recognise this in its policy.”

Obviously the Tories and their Fleet Street toe-rags don’t take easily to common-sense logic.


THE NEW YORK TIMES ran a major feature entitled “For Victims of AIDS, Support is a Lonely Siege.” It described the work of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a research, support and campaigning group in America.

On the one hand, writer Larry Kramer says: “We’re more responsible. Everyone in the gay community realises now that homosexuality is defined by more than what you do sexually. Being gay is a cultural tradition, a heritage to be proud of.”

But on the other hand, there is growing evidence of a drift back into the old ways of bath houses, cruising, sexual partnerings running into many hundreds and all the other things that seem, on current evidence, to encourage the spread of AIDS.

The Gay Men’s Health Crisis is receiving 30 calls a week from newly diagnosed AIDS victims. They think it highly likely that as many as 30,000 more cases are, at this moment incubating.

Depressing stuff indeed.


Writing in WOMAN magazine, ‘royal-watcher’ Anthony Holden says “the strains of the last 18 months are beginning to show on the Queen’s face.”

Part of the strain was the resignation of Commander Tresstrail “in disgrace” after his homosexuality was revealed.

Never mind the Queen, what I want to know is how Commander Tresstrail’s face is faring under the strain he’s been exposed to after his cruel and unnecessary martyrdom by the media monsters?

And if she was so concerned, why didn’t Her Majesty utter a single word in his defence?


Spike Milligan wrote a letter to NEW SOCIETY suggesting that “parliament should set up a central screening bureau for would-be parents. It would look into people’s records to see if they are drunks, criminals, violent and whether they can support a family.” He says: “Children are being born to drunks, drug addicts, masochists, sadists and even in the bizarre context of lesbians…”

Now hold on a minute Mr Milligan. Am I wrong in saying that you’ve spent more time than most in mental institutions suffering from manic depression? Isn’t your rather unstable state of mind well chronicled? But I can find no evidence of restraint on your part when it came to parenthood.

Many lesbians make exemplary parents and to have their parenthood dismissed by the increasingly unfunny Mr Milligan is, to put it mildly, stark, staring mad.


THE SUN (described by another Fleet Street journal as a “yobbo paper”) lived up to its image when reporting the attack on pop star Marilyn in Australia.

Marilyn was beaten up in a gay bar out there. THE SUN gleefully splashed it across the front page, with the comment from the Aussie police chief: “He isn’t seriously hurt — all he needs is a powder puff.”

But as far as gay-bashing goes, the antipodean thug still has a long way to go before he can equal the editor of THE SUN.


THE whingeing Michael Jackson is still going on about how gay he isn’t. After getting his mother to reassure the loyal fans that her weird son was not homosexual (on the grounds it was against religion), we now have his doctor making the same assertion in THE SUN.

All right, Michael. I believe it. The question is: do you?

HIM 71, July 1984

Terry Sanderson’s autobiography “The Reluctant Gay Activist” is now available on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reluctant-Gay-Activist-Terry-Sanderson/dp/B09BYN3DD9/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Homosexuality has definitely been flavour-of-the month as far as the media is concerned. And, in the main, it has been sympathetic coverage.

The Keith Hampson affair, coinciding as it did with a parliamentary debate on the subject, ensured maximum exposure for the ugly ‘pretty police’.

But did all this attention really make any difference to the situation? Well, perhaps the promise from the Metropolitan Police to “tighten up the rules” is pretty meaningless, but, as far as public opinion goes, I think we have made major inroads.

It was interesting to see how various papers treated the issue. According to THE SUNDAY MIRROR: “Police deny claims often made in clubs that they act as decoys to trap gays.” Whilst on the same day in THE OBSERVER: “Police sources said the decision to use agent provocateurs was taken at a very high level.”

The commentators were unanimously favourable in their support for an end to entrapment. It was as though someone had, at last, shouted foul! and all the media gurus joined in the call for fair play.

Lynda Lee-Potter in THE DAILY MAIL said: “If the destruction of Dr Keith Hampson MP’s career results in ending the vendetta against homosexuals which the police have been conducting for years, possibly one iota of good will emerge from this sad and sorry case.”

John Vincent in THE SUN wrote: “As the police know full well, the real crime that worries the public is out on the streets. For most people safety on public transport and in their homes comes before private morals.” Even the ghastly Woodrow Wyatt in THE NEWS OF THE WORLD managed to admit that he had “no room to cast stones” and ruminated on how the sex drive can “make worthy and sensible men behave like lunatics.”

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH carried a large and sympathetic piece entitled Law, Liberty and the Homosexual in which Paul Williams explored the gay world and its reaction to police activities.

Ken Livingstone was reported in the LONDON EVENING STANDARD as saying: “I think it is absolutely monstrous that in a city where mugging, burglary and rape are the main concern, we have police officers wasting their time around gay bars, waiting for someone to pinch their bums.”

And even the normally vituperative SCOTSMAN managed to say: “Just as in the era before homosexual law reform, the blackmailer was generally regarded with greater detestation than his homosexual victim, so in today’s different moral climate the police agent provocateur might be more generally disliked than the homosexual he arrests.”


I hate to return to the distasteful subject of DAILY EXPRESS gossip William Hickey, but his recent spiteful anti-gay tirades have been too much to ignore.

First, he set about trying to destroy the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality. He did this by publishing the names of those Tory MPs brave enough to offer themselves as vice-presidents of the group. This was supposed to be some sort “expose”, but the story amounted to nothing but spite, malice and ill-intention.

But he went one better a few days later by calling on Sir Peter Hayman, the elderly diplomat recently fined for cottaging, to surrender his knighthood. Or better still — in Hickey’s book — the Queen should take it away from him.

It took a pretty heartless bastard to write, as Hickey did: “After treachery one might suppose that fiddling about in public lavatories is only one down the scale in bringing dishonour to honours.”

He wrote this about an old man who has given most of his life to the faultless service of his country.

If Hickey knows what shame is, I hope he’s hanging his head at this very moment.


REPORTING that Tory MP Richard Alexander had resigned from the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality (see previous item) THE SUNDAY MIRROR says: “Mr Alexander stressed that he did not practise the group’s activities.”

Eh? Can we just have a re-run of that? …”he did not practise the group’s activities.”

Like what — licking envelopes? Organising meetings? Lobbying parliament?

Or does the CGHE have livelier ‘activities’ than we know about?


In an astonishing about-face, Sir John Junor, editor of THE SUNDAY EXPRESS and long-time critic of gay rights, has actually admitted that gays are often treated unjustly.

He was commenting upon the case of Richard Longstaff, who emigrated from England to the USA in 1966 and has now been denied American citizenship because he failed to declare his homosexuality on his original visa application all those years ago. “I hardly go singing and dancing in the streets in favour of the Gay Liberation movement,” writes JJ, “But isn’t it a little tough that someone who cannot be blamed for having been born the way he is should be victimised for not having had the courage to give a truthful answer to a humiliating question put to him when he was little more than a child?”

You’re making progress, Sir John. But hasn’t it dawned on you yet that America isn’t the only country that persecutes homosexuals?

John Junor

Why not drop a line to your friend Margaret Thatcher. She can give you all the details.


According to THE SUN, ITV has sold The Benny Hill show to Russia. But the Soviets insist that all references to homosexuality be deleted from the shows.

It would be nice to think that the Russians didn’t want to insult the sensibilities of their gay citizens by exposing them to Hill’s vulgar and unfunny jibes. But the truth is more likely to be that they want to keep alive the myth that homosexuality does not exist in the USSR.

Whatever the benefits the revolution brought to the people of the Soviet Union, gays were, as they are everywhere else, excluded from enjoying them.


That haven of tolerance and love, Belfast, has, according to THE SUNDAY NEWS, been up in arms at the idea of Man Around’s gay holidays being made available to Ulster homosexuals.

“DUP leaders lashed out at the ‘filthy’ holidays,” the paper says, and with unusual restraint Assemblyman Wesley Pentland said: “Package holidays for homosexuals are dirty, deplorable, filthy, anti-God and unscriptural.”

Whereas East Belfast MP Peter Robinson said: “I’d like to send perverts and degenerates on a one-way trip to gay resorts.”

Believe me, if I lived in Belfast, I’d be the first one knocking on Mr Robinson’s door begging for that one-way ticket. Anything to get away from the poisoned minds and soiled mouths of these ga-ga men of god.


“Straight Talking John Smith” in THE SUNDAY PEOPLE chides the homosexual community for “hijacking another perfectly decent English word.” He refers to ‘pink’, telling readers that there is a ‘pink’ economy. And the money spent in this twilight world is known as the ‘pink pound’.

“Thus tainted,” he says, “the word pink will take on a simpering new significance far removed from its original intent.”

Well, as you’re so fond of straight talking, why don’t you take back all the words you and your wonderful kind have lumbered us with in the past? To start with you can have “queer” and “puff” and “fairy” and “nancy” and all the other perfectly innocent words you’ve corrupted in your sickening attempts to insult and belittle us.

GAY TIMES 87, November 1985

Terry Sanderson’s autobiography “The Reluctant Gay Activist” is now available on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reluctant-Gay-Activist-Terry-Sanderson/dp/B09BYN3DD9/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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 88, December 1985 – January 1986 (Double Issue)

Terry Sanderson’s autobiography “The Reluctant Gay Activist” is now available on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reluctant-Gay-Activist-Terry-Sanderson/dp/B09BYN3DD9/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Lock your doors, bar your windows and watch out for the Hypocrites. They’ve escaped and are running amok in Fleet Street. Primary among them this month is a creepy Mancunian slob by the name of Bernard Manning who purports to be a comedian. With the collusion of THE SUNDAY PEOPLE who gave him two full pages to do it, he launched a vile assault on gay show business personalities like Kenny Everett, Russell Grant and John Inman under the headline “Ban the Panto Fairies”.

It seems Mr Manning doesn’t like homosexuals. “They ought to keep themselves to themselves,” he says. He also says that gays should not be allowed on “television, on stage, in clubs or in pubs.” But the main thrust of his ‘argument’ is that gays shouldn’t be allowed to entertain families because they are likely to “corrupt the children.”

This is rich coming from someone who for years has made a living out of uttering the most filthy racist abuse imaginable. Each time he opens his mouth his own unarguable corruption spews forth. A more worthless and degraded individual it would be difficult to imagine. Why then did The Sunday People give him column inches to expound these views? This is something that must remain between the editor and his conscience—but when the Hippodrome had the cheek to put Manning on as cabaret at one of their gay nights the discerning audience booed the bastard off the stage.

I am pleased to say that Manning did not escape totally unscathed. Alix Palmer of THE STAR wrote: “I once went to his grotty little club in Manchester and found he was the same in the flesh as he had been on television: a nasty, sweaty, blubbery teller of fartling jokes. He also keeps a bust of Hitler on his mantelpiece.”

Now we turn to the pages of that august journal THE SPECTATOR for our next hypocrite. The Spectator, for those fortunate enough not to have seen it, is the haunt of many a Conservative intellectual and thinker (if such a creature isn’t a contradiction in terms). A regular column called ‘High Life’ is written by ‘Taki’, the pen-name of a Mr Theodoracopoulos. He recently decided to “break his silence” on Aids: “Gutless politicians … are afraid to come straight out with the fact that extreme promiscuity has led to the Aids epidemic. In an age when pornography, expletive language is in every movie and rock disc and full frontals on television … the yellow-streaked pols are refusing to say that Aids is a disease caught by men who bugger and are buggered by dozens or even hundreds of other men every year.”

In the following issue a correspondent pointed out that Taki’s opinions weren’t original. In fact, he’d pinched them almost word-for-word from a column in the New York Post by Norman Podheretz. Not able to write his own bigoted column he plagiarises other people’s.

This, by the way, is the same Mr Theodoracrapolous who was recently released from prison after serving a sentence for drug offences so you’ll recognise his qualifications to moralise at the rest of us.

Taki? More like Tacky!


Not only the national press is engaged in the growing anti-gay propaganda campaign, the local papers are doing their bit, too. Just look at some of the stuff that has appeared in local rags around the country over the past few weeks.

“An attack on a South Wales gay society was made by Ogwr councillors yesterday. They were branded “perverts”, “drug takers” and a corruptive influence on the young by Tory councillors, while a Labour councillor described homosexuality as an illness which should receive medical attention.”—SOUTH WALES ECHO.

“Sick, evil and inferior are what a Bromley doctor has been accused of branding GAYS”—under a huge front-page headline reading “Gays are Evil” in the BROMLEY LEADER.

The PLYMOUTH EVENING HERALD told us that “an offensive gay club poster” had been hounded out of the local Citizens’ Advice Bureau by the Mayor of Looe, Mr John Enever. “I don’t mind as long as they’re counselling, but when they talk about gay clubs, I’m afraid I take exception.”

“Row over poofs and queers,” was the giant front-page lead of THE SOLIHULL DAILY TIMES, reporting Tory council leader Bob Meacham saying: “We took a liberal attitude to poofs and queers and now we’re knee deep in them. God has sent Aids to get rid of them.” THE COVENTRY EVENING TELEGRAPH reported him as saying: “The disease is evidence of divine retribution on a par with the fire which hit York Minster last year.”

These are crude and extreme attacks but they are becoming more frequent and local papers are giving them more prominence. It’s up to us all to ensure we don’t let these slanders go unchallenged. If we remain silent you can be assured that the Bible-thumpers won’t. We mustn’t allow our enemies to occupy both the editorial space and the letters columns. It doesn’t take long to write a letter—but it takes a long time to counter hatred and persecution once it takes hold.


And still Fleet Street criticizes those who try to help gays. THE DAILY MAIL slagged off Lambeth Council for organising a lesbian and gay conference. What the conference was about was of no interest to THE MAIL. All they cared about was that it cost £4000 of “ratepayers’ money”. They talk as if gays are somehow excused from paying rates. Are we not entitled to some small return from our massive contributions?

Meanwhile the bluer-than-blue SUNDAY EXPRESS said: “Gay city snub for cash crisis scouts.” Gay city? Where could that be? San Francisco? West Hollywood? No indeed—it’s Birmingham. “Cash starved scouts should not be considered for rates relief, but homosexual and lesbian groups should, according to Birmingham City treasurer Paul Sabin,” the paper reported. Proper tugs at your heart strings, doesn’t it?

The DAILY TELEGRAPH headlined: “Islington flats offer open to homosexuals.” But when you read the report underneath you realise that gays have no more chance of getting a flat than anyone else. But what’s the truth when there’s a message to get across?


A new threat to the Government’s long-delayed public education campaign on Aids comes from the strange British attitude to sex. When Thames TV put out an hour-long special on Aids, it included a clip from an educational video aimed at gays. Gay sex acts were discussed. The following day, James Murray, TV editor of THE DAILY EXPRESS reported that “viewers raised a howl of protest about a report on the gay plague Aids. Homosexuals interviewed in the programme used basic words to describe what they did to one another.”

But who were all these howling viewers? We have to take Mr Murray’s word that there were any because the one he quotes doesn’t have a name.

On the same theme, THE GUARDIAN told us (in a two-day “Aids Extra”) that the Gay Medical Association has had printing plates for a “safe sex” leaflet seized as ‘obscene’ by the Metropolitan Police.

How on earth are we ever going to get an effective campaign under way when we aren’t even allowed to talk openly about sex? People’s lives are at stake but the precious two-faced sense of “propriety” has to be protected at all costs. The Sun will gleefully print lurid details of rape cases and parade pictures of naked post-pubescent girls, but they won’t help gays save their own lives because that wouldn’t be “normal.”.


Speaking of THE SUN, it has carried negative gay stories almost every day for the past few weeks. One said, “Barmy Bernie in ‘race and gays’ threat” in which their new hate-figure, Bernie Grant leader of Haringey council was criticised for wanting to protect black people and gays from being murdered and abused. The Sun presumably wants the violence to continue and even increase. Does Mr Murdoch’s excuse-for-a-newspaper applaud mindless thuggery then? It seems so.


If you think things are bad in this country, you should thank your lucky stars that you don’t live in Queensland, Northern Australia. That blighted land is ruled over by Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen, who the TIMES rather charitably described as “profoundly Conservative.”

Sir Johannes has recently introduced legislation that banned “sexual perverts or deviants and child molesters” from public houses.

The Prime Minister of Australia, Gough Whitlam, described the detestable old fart as “a, Bible-bashing bastard” and the Australian press called him “a real raving ratbag.”

But this is mild stuff. Gay Times—being a family journal—could not possibly print what I’d like to say about the Premier of Queensland.


However, raving rat-bags are not confined to the deep North of Oz. Take our own dear John Carlisle, “the hanger and flogger MP from Luton, North” (as THE GUARDIAN termed him). He wrote to Ken Livingstone about the GLC’s Charter for Gay Rights, describing it as “a stain on the people of London pandering to sick and depraved people.”

Ken Livingstone replied: “Dear John, perhaps if you studied it in more detail you could come to terms with your sexuality instead of denying it. Yours Ken.”


THE DAILY MAIL carried the encouraging headline: “Gays axe Christmas”. It referred to West Hollywood’s progressive policies. Sounds like my kinda town!


As this will be the last Mediawatch column of 1985 I’d like to thank all those readers who’ve sent in cuttings and to have a single Christmas wish: that there be a controlled nuclear explosion in the vicinity of Fleet Street.

GAY TIMES 90, March 1986

Terry Sanderson’s autobiography “The Reluctant Gay Activist” is now available on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reluctant-Gay-Activist-Terry-Sanderson/dp/B09BYN3DD9/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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.