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?

GAY TIMES 76, December 1984

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HE 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 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.