HIM 68, April 1984

Gossip columnists obviously have a hard time filling their columns. Much of their material is weak in the extreme and their ‘wit’ for the most part embarrassing. And nowadays it seems only homosexuality is scandalous enough to raise eyebrows. There are few other subjects ‘gossips’ can sneer at and get away with it.

They’ve had a field day with poor old Elton John. But then, Elton does seem to ask for it. Not happy with just quietly getting married he has to give journalists all the ammunition they need to shoot him down. [Note: Elton John married German recording engineer Renate Blauel on 14 February 1984].

“Straight talking John Smith” in The Sunday People started his item with the hilariously witty and original “Oh my goodness, what a gay day”, and to prove what a wag he is he included the phrase “good on yer, yer pommy poofter”.

William Hickey in THE DAILY EXPRESS headed his tribute “Elton and The Boys He Leaves Behind-which managed to avoid the libelous while leaving little of Elton’s past gay life unexplored.

From other sections of the papers the overwhelming message to Elton was: “We knew you were really one of us all the time. Nice to know you’re normal.”

When, er, I mean if,the marriage ends, Elton is going to reap a nasty harvest from the sick publicity machine he is courting.


Another favourite target for the columnists is Peter Tatchell. Described in THE DAILY MIRROR by the execrable Peter Tory as “an admitted homosexual”.

Tatchell found himself in the limelight again because it is exactly a year since his notorious Bermondsey debacle.

That’s enough for the papers to rake it all over again and throw any residual mud at Tony Benn. Peter Tory, the MIRROR’s ‘gossip’ seemed positively gleeful in reporting that Tatchell had almost been shoved under a bus and threatened with several kinds of death.


Meanwhile, William Hickey again, this time reporting that Gay News has taken a poll in gay circles and found Neil Kinnock to be “man of the year” (a fact which the publisher of GN, raving right-winger Nigel Ostrer wasn’t pleased about). [Note: Nigel Ostrer bought the title Gay News from Denis Lemon after the original folded, but the new version did not last long and the title was sold on to Millivres and was incorporated into Gay Times].

According to Hickey, Neil Kinnock’s reaction on hearing the news was “That’s all I need right now”. There is evidence to suggest that Kinnock is a homophobe — but I still resent Hickey trying to use homosexuality as a chisel to chip away at the Labour leader’s reputation. It seems to be an increasing habit in the press — associate your worst enemy with homosexuality (however vaguely) and hope that his popularity will plummet. The evidence seems to suggest that it doesn’t work anyway.


One person who can’t be caught in that particular trap is Christopher Isherwood. THE STANDARD Diary reports that Isherwood recently met Bob Fosse, the man who turned the book Goodbye to Berlin into the film Cabaret.

Isherwood hated the film because it suggested that there was more to his relationship with the singer Sally Bowles than mere friendship. The irate Isherwood said: “I never slept with a woman in my life.” Hard for THE STANDARD to make innuendo out of anything as plain as that.


THE SUNDAY EXPRESS gossip column, however, carried a cleverly-worded piece about Rock Hudson and his manager Tom Clarke.

Although nothing was said directly, there was enough suggestion and insinuation to get the message over loud and clear.


THE DAILY MIRROR and THE SUN carried the story of the lesbian couple who had been allocated a flat by Hereford Council. THE MIRROR said: “the women are jumping the queue because they are being treated as a married couple.”

But as lesbians can’t get married, there would be no hope of them ever being housed if the MIRROR’s criterion were applied. Never mind, I thought, the councillors in Hereford have their hearts in the right place, and the women have their flat in which to live happily ever after.

But then THE GUARDIAN reported that there was to be a “rethink”. The publicity has been so hysterical that the anti-gay feeling in the Council (orchestrated by a Coun. Bert Evans) resulted in the women being “hounded remorselessly”.

Mr Evans said: “If this goes through we could see an invasion of sexual deviants which would mean that normal people would never get rehoused.”

If Mr Evans thinks Hereford is about to become another San Francisco he can rest in peace. Not many gay people would want to breathe the same air as such a bigoted burgher as he.


LIKE a lot of gay people, I have a great affection for Kenneth Williams. In the closeted sixties, his outrageous Julian and Sandy sketches in Round the Horne were like a lifeline to those of us isolated and alone. We seemed to share with Williams a naughty secret joke that straights could never hope to understand.

You can imagine my horror, therefore, on picking up the NEWS OF THE WORLD colour magazine and seeing our Kenny quoted as saying: “Man is made for woman and anybody who pretends that two men can live together happily like man and wife is talking a load of rubbish. Let’s not kid ourselves, there would no life in that kind of relationship.”

At the beginning of the interview, Mr Williams proclaims: “I am a cult” although I’m not sure he’s spelt it right


And like a vision from heaven to prove Kenneth Williams wrong, Sir Angus Wilson and Tony Garrett, his lover of 32 years, put their relationship in front of the TV cameras in THE OTHER HALF (BBC1). It turned out to be a loving, giving partnership with lots of humour and a good deal of quiet contentment.

The other nice thing about this programme was that it explored the texture and workings of a gay relationship rather than presenting another heavy tract on the nature and tragedy of homosexuality.

Sir Angus said he didn’t feel the need to wear a badge saying “I’m homosexual.”

He went one better and declared it on prime time television. In doing so he rendered a great service to the gay community.


In Mary Kenny’s attempted hatchet job on The National Council for Civil Liberties [Note: Now called simply “Liberty”] in THE DAIL MAIL she said the NCCL had been greeted on its 50th birthday by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and other “frankly lunatic causes”. She contended that by Mrs Thatcher declining to give her support it must be proof (if any were needed as far as MAIL readers go) that the NCCL is just another group of left-wing, gay-loving maniacs. Ms Kenny says she will believe in the NCCL when it “champions, everybody’s rights”.

This apparently, includes The National Front, Ku Klux Klan and others with murder in their hearts. Ms Kenny wants freedom for “racists to be racists” — as long as they are peaceful. Yes, the National Front is noted for its peacefulness, isn’t it?

The NCCL has consistently championed gay rights and maintained a justified watch on the police. It is an essential organisation in these times of rapidly diminishing personal liberty.


Peter Adamson, ex-Len Fairclough of Coronation Street, wrote a series of exposés in THE NEWS OF THE WORLD telling earth-shattering “secrets” of life backstage at Granada. There was an awful lot of schoolboy-type sniggering about tits, bums, lavatories and rather childish horseplay.

His memories of Peter Dudley, who played Bert Tilsley, were hardly surprising. He reveals that Peter was a “cottager” and a “harmless homosexual.”

A more tawdry set of memoirs would be difficult to imagine.

HIM/GAY TIMES 75, November 1984

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

A grim prospect indeed.


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

GAY TIMES 86, October 1985

“Truth is the greatest enemy of fear and ignorance. Truth will surely conquer Aids, maybe within a relatively short space of time.”

Brave words—but from which paper? Believe it or not, it’s THE SUN. But, of course, this editorial rhetoric is nothing more than the usual empty cant. The Sun has no more regard for the truth than it ever had.

If The Sun had wanted to tell the truth about Aids, why did it headline “Cough can spread Aids”? Leading experts were quick to point out that there was no evidence to support such a wild claim. Professor Michael Adler said on The Jimmy Young Programme (Radio 2): “When you see me dying and everyone at the Middlesex Hospital dying who are looking after Aids patients then you can come back to me and say that I am wrong.” Even THE DAILY MAIL carried that. Did the Sun? No, it did not. Instead it said: “And whilst there is no proof it can be passing by kissing, the theory that it might be passed by mouth has not yet been ruled out by experts.”

We must also look at whether the SUN is reflecting reactions to Aids or it is it attempting to create them? Take the story it carried headed: “Aids scare empties pub.” It claimed that “terrified tipplers deserted their local after the landlord sent out a special invitation to gays.” But is it true? Well, we have only tie SUN’s word for it. Could it be that this detestable rag is trying to encourage a leper mentality towards gays?

Miriam Stoppard tried in her “Where There’s Life?” programme (ITV) to calm fears by talking to Aids victims in a sympathetic and sensible way. It was a moving programme, but it cut no ice with The DAILY EXPRESS’s TV critic. “Thanks doctor … but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” he wrote, “despite what they try to tell us on television, maybe they will permit a sceptical public to take their own simple precautions.”

For “simple precautions” you can read mindless persecution.


Columnists in the British Press are overwhelmingly right-wing reactionaries. They all have a great deal in common, being pro-South African government, anti-women, pro-Thatcher and very anti-gay. Their attitudes seem to have been fixed when they were young and immature and are now impervious to change. Now that they’ve got Aids as a subject they can get all that phoney moralising off their chests.

“Stop this public posturing!” demanded John Akass in the DAILY EXPRESS. He was referring to the “powerful homosexual lobby” and the “gay publicity machine”— some-thing I’ve yet to see operating—and telling us to “change down to neutral” in our demands for equality.

As a regular consumer of the Fleet Street press, I can assure John Akass that any positive mention of homosexuality would be very hard to find. There’s plenty about homosexuality to be sure —you could almost say they’re obsessed with it —but all of it is either critical, mocking, censorious or titillating. Aids, says Mr Akass is the homosexual’s “private sorrow, their own exclusive sorrow. They deserve pity. What they do not deserve is air time and space for advertising” But where is all this pro-gay propaganda?

Never mind, facts need not get in the way of the message, and so we move to the outrageously inflated and pompous George Gale, also in the EXPRESS. “We are constantly invited to feel sorrow for individuals who suffer from the disease and for the homosexual community in which it particularly flourishes,” says the self-satisfied windbag. “Those who choose unnatural methods of sexual gratification choose thereby to put themselves at risk …It is more important to protect the lives of those who might innocently or accidentally catch the disease than to protect the reputation of those who have caught the disease through their own self-indulgence.”

Then we turn to the other self-appointed moralist, the Catholic martyr herself, Mary Kenny. She was writing in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH about the appointment by Manchester City Council of two officers to look at the question of discrimination against homosexuals. According to the blessed Mary there is no such thing as anti-gay discrimination. “In many artistic spheres, queers (as they are still called in the theatre—’queer as a coot darling’) are widely believed to be more gifted, more sensitive than straights.” She then goes on to say: “If prejudice against homosexuals is now a special problem in Manchester, it may be because ratepayers feel resentment towards councils who spend resources on ‘sexual orientation officers’.”

I wonder if Mary could be so hot under the halo because Manchester happens to be a socialist council? Or perhaps she’s just let her persistent smugness get the better of her.

Now we go to THE DAILY TELEGRAPH to greet the very wonderful Peter Simple, who took space to congratulate the Salvation Army on their campaign against the liberalisation of the anti-gay laws in New Zealand. “Let it stand firm. I am sure it will.” Mind you, in the same issue he was also congratulating the South African government for ‘standing firm’ against international opinion that it should dismantle apartheid.

On the ‘lighter side’, THE STAR’s Peter Tory says he’s had a message from “our delicate-natured Los Angeles correspondent Orville” who has exclusively revealed to him what the term “a friend of Dorothy” means. The incredulous Mr Tory, always first with the news says: “So there you are. Just another little lesson in the increasingly gay ways of this funny old world.”

If Mr Tory would like another ‘little lesson’ perhaps it could be in growing up.


Paul Johnson got his two-pennorth in with an article in THE SPECTATOR some weeks ago but is worth mentioning. It begins by castigating the press: “Since the Press Council was created, the conduct of Fleet Street, far from improving, has been worse, than ever. Never would I say that Fleet Street has been held in such contempt by the public, and justly so.”

One can’t argue with that. The thrust of Mr Johnson’s article concerns gay matters. Paul Johnson doesn’t like homosexuality. “The great majority of Christians and Jews, for example, continue to regard it as evil and many believe criminal sanctions should be restored.” And how does Mr Johnson know what “the great majority” thinks? He doesn’t make clear, but he goes on say that and says as much as he despises the press and resents its intrusion into people’s lives, he’ll make an exception for the coverage of Aids “It is clear then that the Aids outbreak and other consequences of homosexual promiscuity, are matters which the press must explore and discuss, distasteful, difficult and contentious though they are. All kinds of precautions, including the re-imposition of the criminal sanctions abolished in 1967… are areas for debate.”

In the following issue, Julian Meldrum wrote to the editor, suggesting that only person who should be locked up is Mr Johnson. I’ll echo that.

I don’t want to deny anyone the right to their opinion, but I must say that reading some of these columnists is just about the equivalent of putting two fingers down your throat.


The Tory press has often used homosexuality as a means of “tarnishing” the image of the Labour Party. The habit is well illustrated by an article in THE DAILY EXPRESS headed “Gay Lib poses new threat to Labour hopes”. The article said that “Labour is facing an embarrassing new storm, this time involving the gay rights movement at next month’s party conference.”

Apparently, because there are a couple of gay rights motions likely to get on to the agenda, we are going to inflict as much damage on the party as Arthur Scargill, Tony Benn and the TUC conference put together. This is the gleeful hope and opinion of the Express’s political editor John Warden.

It didn’t stop the TUC conference overwhelmingly passing their resolution in favour of gay rights. THE SUN reported this by quoting only one speaker at the debate which was, of course, Frank Sweeney who said: “Gay people are absolutely vile. They corrupt anything and everything they touch.” Not a single word of support was reported.


THE BOOKSELLER carried an article by Charles Clark, copyright adviser to the Publishers Association, which he submitted to the PA’s Freedom to Publish Committee. It concerns, of course, Gay’s the Word and HM Customs and Excise. He says the case against the Customs would make “hilarious reading” if the proceedings did not, as they do, concern a hundred individual charges against the eight directors of GTW. “But,” he says, “The publicity surrounding the behaviour of the Customs in their action against GTW may well provide the PA and the Booksellers Association with the right opportunity to press the Government for a review of the Customs’ powers, procedures and practices.”

No doubt HM Customs are kicking themselves for opening this particular can of worms.

GAY TIMES 92, May 1986

Eddie Shah’s fuzzy newspaper TODAY, carried the text of a speech by Noman Tebbit, chairman of the Conservative Party and, I’m told, an extra in the film “Zombie Flesheaters”. Mr Tebbit says that all the ills of the present day stem from the permissive sixties. “Legislation on capital punishment, homosexuality, abortion, censorship and divorce – some of it good, some of it bad – but all of it applauded as ‘progressive’ as ushered in in quick succession, leaving an overwhelming impression that not only were there going to be no legal constraints but there was no need for any constraints at all. Tolerance for sexual deviation generated a demand for deviance itself to be treated as the norm,”

Commenting on the speech THE GUARDIAN said: “There are two things wrong with what Mr Tebbit is saying. First, the problems are about things that are happening now, not twenty years ago. After seven years of Conservative government it is pretty pathetic to blame the wrongs of today’s world on the Wilson era… Was it really a debasement of standards to legalise homosexuality? Mr Tebbit’s speech came close to being outright anti-gay”

The Guardian believes that Mr Tebbit is “testing popular temperature to see how a general slagging off of liberal values will go down electorally.”

Hopefully it will go down with all hands.


The Press Council’s rejection of my complaint about THE SUN and its notorious “I’d shoot my son if he had Aids” story has taught me a bitter lesson – never make a complaint to the Press Council, My disturbing conclusion is that this complaint might have done more harm than good because now The Sun can crow that it has ‘official confirmation of how responsible and balanced its coverage of Aids has been.

The story complained about was, to my mind, a classic example of the sensationalism, exaggeration and distortion that has led to the present climate of hysteria. The Press Council maintained that the article would not provoke “discriminatory action against people with Aids.” This is clearly nonsense. As Anna Durrell, another complainant about the same story, pointed out, the article implied that the only way to stop the spread of Aids is to kill people who have it.

My advice to people who are angered by the continuing scaremongering in newspapers and magazines is to forget the Press Council and find an alternative way to complain. There are lots of ideas in the “Right to Reply” pack which is available for £2.95 from The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom.


To illustrate how newspapers feed off the myths they themselves have created about Aids, let’s look at some of the stories that have appeared during the past month.

The CHISLEHURST TIMES reported that Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World is being held this year in Chislehurst Caves. “Sex Show in Caves Plan” said the headline in the paper and quoted a local councillor, Mrs Joan Bryant, as saying: “Ordinary people have got to use these facilities and I couldn’t be more alarmed. Aids may fester in the drains and sewage pipes.”

The STAR gossip columnist, Peter Tory—a man hardly noted for his sensitivity—reported that: “It is proving difficult to sell the late Rock Hudson’s house.” The reason—you’ve guessed it. “People are just spooked by Aids. I don’t know whether they are afraid of catching it from the door-knobs or what. But they just don’t want to know.”

THE DAILY EXPRESS told us that “Two prison officers wore green ‘space suits’ to flank an Aids prisoner in court yesterday. As well as the protective coveralls, the officers had respirators available, they did not carry them into the dock.”

The “Aids prisoner” in question was, it turned out, simply antibody positive (this was not what the Express said, they don’t seem to have grasped the difference between being antibody positive and having Aids). “He has been treated like a leper while on remand in Leicester Prison. His food was passed to him through a hatch and everything he touched, including reading material, was burned.”

The Express also told of the “scandal” of three “Aids victims” (once more, they meant HTLV-3 positive) being allowed to “mix will other prisoners in at overcrowded, under-staffed, top-security jail.” A spokesman for the prison officers is quoted as saying: “Needless to say, the other prisoners don’t know. You can imagine what would happen if they did.”

The MAIL ON SUNDAY tells us that “insurance firms are considering ways of identifying Aids victims who apply for life insurance.”

The catalogue of appalling ignorance, the frightening over-reaction and cruel prejudice continues to grow. It must have started somewhere. Someone must have fanned this panic. For the culprits I think you need look no further than Fleet Street and Wapping.


Commenting on the Government’s advertising campaign on Aids, NEW SOCIETY says: “Isn’t there something missing here—like homosexuals? They do, after all, account for 90 percent of the 305 Aids cases recorded in Britain so far. Yet the word ‘homosexual’ features only once in that ad and in a negative context: ‘Does Aids only affect homosexuals?’ it asks.  No. If your eye happened to jump over the ‘only’, you would get a message that was the precise reverse of the truth.”


In the face of all the anti-gay propaganda which newspapers carry, I wondered whether they actually have formal policies of homophobia, or does it all stem from the ignorance and prejudices of individual journalists?

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH is quite open about it. When it announced its ‘new look’ a few weeks ago, the editor, Max Hastings, wrote: “The Daily Telegraph’s political commitment to the Conservatives as the only party currently fit to govern the country remains undiminished. So too does our belief in traditional moral values. There will be no sudden discovery of enthusiasm for Gay Lib in the columns of the Telegraph.”

Well, at least we know where we stand there. But what about THE DAILY MAIL which published that grotesque and slanderous piece by George Gordon last month? I asked the Assistant `Managing editor of the paper, Mac Keene, what their policy was about homosexuality and the reporting of Aids. “The Daily Mail does not have what you call a ‘policy’ towards homosexuality or Aids, just as we have no ‘policy’ towards deaf people or towards diptheria. We cover news stories on all subjects factually as they arise.”

Factually? You will remember that George Gordon’s article contained the sentence “If their teacher was gay, and in my mind that means a carrier of Aids, I would want to yank him straight out of the class.”

And now we have ‘Lord’ Frank Chapple, posing as a journalist, writing in the same paper that Aids is a “homosexual-induced epidemic”. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘induce’ as “Bring on by artificial means”. Is Frank Chapple inferring that gays somehow created Aids?

I asked ‘His Lordship’ this very question. He replied: “Let me ask you a question. Don’t you think it would be a good idea if homosexuals stopped spreading the disease?”

My answer is yes, I do. I also think that it would be a good idea if those who have access to the mass media stopped spreading clap-trap about a serious and tragic issue.


On telly we have another American sitcom tackling a gay theme. Kate and Allie (Channel 4) concerns two divorced women who set up home together to save money, and as a mutual support system. In one episode this month the two women decided to pose as a gay couple in order to avoid paying a rent increase. (The serial is in a part of America where gays are recognised as having rights.)

The landlady who demanded the increase was very happy that her tenants were gay because so was she, and she produced her lover to prove it. From then on the misunderstandings and embarrassments that stemmed from the initial lie snowballed.

Kate didn’t like the deception because she had come to like the two lesbians and didn’t want to hurt them. And besides, she wailed, although she hadn’t done much with her heterosexuality lately, she didn’t want to give it up.

As is the fashion in these rather syrupy sit-coms, they came clean —and everything turned out right in the end. The two gay women made friends with the two straight women, there was a little homily about tolerance working both ways and they all ended up at the gay centre having a wonderful time.

Although these American series have a constant undertow of schmaltz, they are invariably good-natured. The gay theme was handled sensitively and the gay characters given a full range of expression and dignity.

Our home-grown comedy shows are crude by comparison—they only seem to be able to present gays as mincing hairdressers or silly waiters. Which says a lot about the state of things here.


Now for the case of the invisible gay customers. It happened at Lucky’s, a restaurant/cocktail bar in West London which operates a gay night each Sunday. In an advertising feature in the WEST LONDON GUARDIAN we are told “There’s never a dull moment at Lucky’s … with our new kid’s disco on Sunday afternoon. On Monday and Tuesday nights you can tune in to Lucky’s jazz-band. Wednesday it’s Ladies Night … Thursday, Friday and Saturday disco nights … something for everyone.”

Everyone? What happened to Sunday night? It seems to have disappeared. Along with a very lucrative band of Lucky’s customers.


Writing in NEW SOCIETY, Jeremy Seabrook warns against the dangers of dismissing The Sun as “a ‘comic’ unworthy of serious attention.” He makes a convincing case to explain the Sun’s popularity. “The details of the horror stories are not important; it is their cumulative effect which counts.”

And, indeed, the cumulative effect of their relentless homophobia counts against us very dearly.

GAY TIMES 97, October 1986

This month’s award to gross disservice to British journalism goes to The Star. Step forward Lloyd Taylor editor of that detestable organ, and claim the honour of managing to achieve the impossible—becoming even more squalid than The Sun.

The scene was set by The Star’s gossip columnist Peter Tory who still subscribes to the “gay plague” interpretation of Aids and therefore considers it a suitable topic for jollity. On two days this month (3rd and 5th Sept) he made bad taste and vicious “jokes” at the expense of people who are suffering from the disease. A more despicable use of newspaper space would be difficult to imagine until you come to The Star’s new columnist “Mills”.

He was introduced to us on 2 Sept under the heading “The Angry Voice”. We were told we could expect yet another semi-fascist ranter. “Mills will often find himself sharing a political bed of nails with… the National Front … ‘patriots’ … and all those whose political philosophy is entirely encompassed by the four-point plan: ‘Hang ‘em, flog ‘em, castrate ‘em and send ‘em home.” He would, he promised us, also rail against “Wooftahs, pooftahs, nancy boys, queers, lezzies—the perverts whose moral sin is to so abuse the delightful word ‘gay’ as to render it unfit for human consumption.”

“Mills” assured us that he would be an original and refreshing voice, but from this introduction he sounded to me just like all the other raving right-wingers who pollute the pages of our press: George Gale, Jean Rook, Paul Johnson, Peregrine Worsthorne, Richard Ingrams—any of them could have described themselves as Mills did.

Needless to say, his lack of anything new to say about gays was proved in the following column (9 Sept) which was headed: “Get back in the closet!” He wrote: “Insidiously, almost imperceptibly, the perverts have got the heterosexual majority with their backs against the wall (the safest place, actually …)” (Yawn) “The freaks proclaim their twisted morality almost nightly on TV … where will it ever end? Where it may end, of course, is by natural causes. The woofters have had a dreadful plague visited upon them, which we call Aids, and which threatens to decimate their ranks. Since the perverts offend the laws of God and nature, is it fanciful to suppose that one or both is striking back? … Little queers or big queers, Mills has had enough of them all—the lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, the hermaphrodites and the catamites and the gender benders who brazenly flaunt their sexual failings to the disgust and grave offence of the silent majority. A blight on them all says Mills.”

Sound familiar? “Mills” hadn’t finished, though, and continued to cram in every cliché, myth, lie and prejudice that has ever been invented by the anti-gay lobby. At any other time I would have written all this off as a sad example of the lamentable state of our press, but taken in conjunction with the other things that are happening all around us I can only describe it as an incitement to hatred and violence. It made a mockery of the NUJ’s “Campaign for Real People”, flaunting all the union’s codes of conduct. I have complained to the NUJ’s Ethics Council, but I hold little hope that there will be any check on the way the press are orchestrating this vicious campaign of anti-gay propaganda.

Campaign for Real People? Perhaps the NUJ would be better engaged in a Campaign for Real Newspapers,


When is a disease not a disease? Answer: when it’s associated with homosexuals. Then, apparently, it becomes “a straightforward moral issue.” This is the opinion of the Scottish Health Minister, Mr John McKay as quoted in The Guardian (5 Sept). Letting us know that he “did not think the public would expect him to make extra resources available to combat Aids”, he is quoted as saying: “I’m afraid it will just have to be treated as one of the problems of the health service. The only other payround is for people who get it to pay themselves, or someone else is always going to have to pay.”

So where does the “morality” come into such an argument when human misery and suffering has to take second place to money, and gay lives have a significantly lower price than heterosexual ones. If Mrs Thatcher and her insane back benchers share these values then I fear greatly for the future.


Thelma Holt “a middle-aged, heterosexual Christian” wrote a passionate, and compassionate letter to The GuardIian (12 Sept) in reply to the Minister’s comments. She spoke of her horror at the insidious idea that gay victims of Aids should be regarded differently to others. She also made the point that Aids is no more “self-inflicted” than those diseases caused by excessive alcohol, tobacco or rich food. Indeed, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the hoo-ha if it was suggested that lung cancer victims or those with hardened arteries should be compelled to pay for their own treatment.

“Psychiatrists,” Ms Holt wrote, “point out that those who agitated vociferously or hysterically to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexual acts in private were often fighting their own sexual proclivities; we were to understand that such a theory held good however many children such campaigners had fathered. We need to recall this theory…”

She also chided “some newspaper commentators who have for years incited the public to harry and despise: homosexuals” and reminded them that theirs was a “line of argument which Adolf Hitler pursued and took to its ghastly conclusion in the death camps.”

Is anybody listening?


The Sunday Mirror carried another of its interminably boring Royal Gossip features of 14 Sept. It started with the old story about the Queen Mother wanting a drink. “She simply shouted down to the kitchen ‘Is there an old queen down there who can bring an old Queen up here a gin and tonic?’”

In a single moment Britain’s best-loved royal had shown how many of the family feel about the known homosexuals working in their service.

Shock! Horror! Scandal! A “Gay Mafia” operating at the palace! But the royal family don’t seem unduly perturbed even though these pernicious gays have “brought the Royal Family some of its darkest moments”. Like what? “There was the time for instance,” says The Sunday Mirror, “when nine members of the Royal yacht Britannia’s crew were jailed for forming a homosexual vice ring.” Now just a minute—what the Sunday Mirror perceives as a “vice ring” ordinary people simply call “affairs” or “loving relationships.” In the bizarre world of the tabloids, of course, homosexuals are incapable of such things.

The truth of the matter is that all the “gay scandals” that have been attached to the royal family have been entirely contrived by the tabloids. Their two favourite subjects, homosexuality and royalty, can’t often be linked, but when they can… well, batten down the hatches your Majesty.

I hold no brief for royalty, but my estimation would rise if once-just once—they would repay the loyalty of their gay staff in standing by them when they are being hounded and vilified by the press.


The whole confused cocktail of Aids, homophobia, sex education and Tory “morality” was given another outing in a ludicrously contradictory editorial in The Daily Telegraph (16 Sept). While the leader writer accepted that “education” was essential to stop the spread of the virus the good old Telegraph couldn’t just say “OK get on with it” – there had to be ‘controls’. “Councils which insist on instruction on homosexuality cannot be prevented; but they can be sensibly countered… If the medical message on Aids is as serious as many believe, a campaign to instruct, to counsel and to warn – in which, dare we add, a moral undertone, would not come amiss – is the first priority.”

This gibberish is what I think is commonly known as going round in ever-decreasing circles.


The anti-gay lobby is increasing its visibility, egged on by the political strength of its right-wing sympathisers. The Tory Government has created a perfect climate in this country for the anti-sex brigade to propagate its views. The papers are more than happy to assist in the puritan backlash, and here is a selection of quotes to illustrate just how widely the views of our potential oppressors are being disseminated:

“When it comes to aggressive promoting of homosexuality, it is wrong. There is a difference between encouraging and accepting homosexuality.”—Kenneth Baker, Education Secretary, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (14 Sept).

“I do not, of course, have anything against homosexuals and lesbians … my concern is to prevent the corruption of children who are at an impressionable age.”—Harry Greenway MP, EALING LEADER (5 Sept).

“To date there has been no public discussion about the isolation or quarantine of Aids carriers neither about recriminalisation of homosexuality … Such measures may still prove effective.”—Dr Adrian Rogers, DAILY TELEGRAPH (10 Sept).

“The only valid variety of relationship is between a man and a woman. Any other relationship is abnormality, even if – like homosexuality – it is a very common abnormality.”—Coun. Tony Young, EALING GAZETTE (12 Sept).

“If homosexuals themselves are really unashamed of their abhorrent sexuality… they should be able to emerge from behind the gaudy ‘gay’ curtain, and openly and consistently declare and confess themselves to be no more nor less than what they truly are, namely, homosexuals”.– -Dr EJ Micham, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (7 Sept).

“Man was too highly sexed for his reproductive needs. He was out of balance with nature, so nature was killing off the most highly sexed, the promiscuous. The homosexuals were being killed off first because they were more promiscuous and now the promiscuous heterosexuals were following.”—Dr Kevin Hume, DAILY TELEGRAPH (15 Sept).

“Few health officials go so far as to educate the public that homosexuality is not only biologically illogical but spiritually a sin.”—The PLAIN TRUTH (sic) (Oct).

“What next? Can we soon look forward to special TV epics for paedophiles, necrophiliacs, pyromaniacs, sado-masochists, satanists and sundry other freaks?”—WORCESTER EVENING NEWS commenting on the Channel 4 gay season (15 Aug).

“The 1967 Sexual Offences Act sought to remove the fear of blackmail from male homosexuals but did not confer approval on homosexual lifestyles. If Parliament could have foreseen Hackney Council’s Gay Pride Week things would have been very different. But how to put the genie back in the bottle? There’s the problem. – Newsletter of the Conservative Family Campaign.


George Gale was interviewed in London listings magazine City Limits (14 Sept). The interviewer found him rather an amiable chap rather than the expected ogre.

Gale insisted that when he wrote so vituperatively about gays he was really only getting at “the lunatic antics of some left-wing councils.” But George Gale writes regularly about homosexuals being responsible for Aids, and about our promiscuity (“Just as pedarests flit from boy to boy so do homosexuals flit from one to another.”). This doesn’t sound like an attack on left wing councils to me —it sounds like straightforward homophobia.