GAY TIMES 76, December 1984

THE acquittal of Keith Hampson brought favourable comment from many of the Fleet Street commentators. [Note: Keith Hampson was a Conservative MP who was arrested in May 1984 at a gay theatre club in Soho after being accused of touching the thigh of what turned out to be an undercover policeman. The subsequent court case against him was dropped, but it ended his parliamentary career.]

“Police constables’ time is surely better spent than hanging around Soho clubs in tight jeans, necklaces and training shoes,” said THE GUARDIAN, whilst THE DAILY MAIL said: “Where there is no suggestion of corruption of youth or any other criminal activity, many people may well wonder why charges of this kind are brought against citizens — prominent or not. Surely the police and courts have better things to do.”

Alexander Chancellor in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH chided PC Stuart Marshall for his “off-duty” clothes: “He possibly looks very nice in them, but might they not, I wonder, convey a slightly misleading impression if worn in a homosexual club? They would not, at any rate, appear the ideal attire for a policeman intent on avoiding the embarrassment of any indecent interest being directed towards himself.”

The sympathies were the same, but the expression offensive, as you’d expect, from John Smith in THE SUNDAY PEOPLE: “One wonders whether PC Marshall went there looking like a proper poof in the hope that he would be treated like one.”

So, will all this mean anything or is it just – again – empty cant?


THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH reveals that Sir Kenneth Newman, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner “has ordered that all uniformed policemen and women assigned to plain clothes duties must be properly briefed by a senior officer against acting as agents provocateurs.”

The order was made on October 12th and is contained in the Metropolitan Police General Orders, the “two-volume Bible” of the force. How seriously can we take this? Well, a letter from Scotland Yard, dated 30th March 1984 (reported in POLICING LONDON) said: “Guidance on entrapment is contained in paragraph 1.92 of Home Office consolidation circular … that no member of the police force should counsel, invite or procure the commission of a crime.”

This was just over a month before the arrest of Keith Hampson. Or, as Larry Gostin, General Secretary of The National Council for Civil Liberties said in a letter to THE GUARDIAN: “Policing the morals of the community of the kind illustrated in these cases will continue unabated. The only thing that will change now that the Hampson case is over is that the subject will be eased out of the news while the police practices carry on as before.”


According to THE SUNDAY TIMES book review of the New Longman Dictionary, a note in the lexicon declares: “Gay is the preferred word used by homosexuals of themselves and this has become such an important sense of the word that one may be misunderstood if one uses it simply to mean ‘cheerful’.” At last — the word is officially ours!


Not noted for its radicalism, THE BOOKSELLER (organ of the book trade) managed an angry editorial about the Customs action against Gay’s The Word. Noting the techniques so far employed, THE BOOKSELLER observes: “If many of the titles are not believed by Customs to be indecent or obscene but are held to weaken the trading position of the shop, and to increase the cost of preparing a defence, many will see the tactics of the Customs and Excise as a clear abuse of power.”

They are perfectly right, of course. There can no longer be any shadow of doubt that this is not an attempt to keep “obscenity” out of the country, but a direct attempt to destroy Gay’s The Word.

And that is why it is the duty of all of us to hasten to the shop’s defence. If the authorities succeed in this endeavour —what next?


I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over a letter which was published in the Portsmouth SOUTHERN EVENING ECHO. It was from an idiot called Stuart Wallace, who informed readers about the meaning of the term “street dog”. He says it’s well known gay terminology (obviously I’ve led a sheltered life, never having heard it before). “Street dogs are those who roam and tramp the street and ‘cottages’ (public toilets) seeking out male prostitutes or willing partners.” He then goes into great detail about Portsmouth’s cottages — surely none but a regular could have such a comprehensive knowledge. Finally (and you can almost see the slobber running down his lips) he informs his horrified audience that he has “rubbed shoulders” with “these fermenting fruits”.

It goes on like some kind of diseased sex fantasy until Mr Wally (er … I mean, Wallace) tells us he had to leave the crew of the QE2 because “it was so rife” and he was afraid it would become “compulsory”. Daft as a brush, as my old mother would say.


THAT’S FAMILY LIFE (BBC1 TV) dealt with gay teenagers and their coming out problems at home. A young man called Keith spoke movingly about his homosexuality and how afraid and isolated it had made him feel. His mother, in turn, described her shock of first hearing the news (“I cried non-stop for three days”) and his stepfather described the profound change in his own attitudes when Keith came clean about his sexuality. “To be honest, before I knew about Keith, the idea of homosexuality made my flesh creep. I didn’t want to be anywhere near them.” “And now?” probed Esther Rantzen. “We still love Keith very dearly and we want him to be happy in his own way.”

I hope a lot of families with gay children were watching this programme —it would have inspired and reassured them and provided proof that parents can understand, even though, on the surface, they might seem completely anti-gay.


On the day President Reagan was celebrating his re-election by saying (for the twentieth time) “You ain’t seen nothing yet”, there was another celebration going on in the U.S. of A. to prove him right. A report in THE STANDARD says the Los Angeles suburb of West Hollywood has declared itself to be America’s first homosexually-control-led city. The 36,000 inhabitants voted two-to-one to create the new city and install lesbian activist Valerie Terrigno as the new mayor.

So, you see, geriatric religious maniacs are not the only ones who can manage a landslide victory in the madness that is America.

GAY TIMES 88, December 1985 – January 1986 (Double Issue)

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.