GAY TIMES 77, January 1985

THE panic the press has tried to create over AIDS is irresponsible in the extreme. There seems to be no conscience amongst the journalists who have been orchestrating this hysteria.

It started with the tragic death of three babies in Australia who had received HIV-infected blood: “Last night a major hunt was under way for more blood donated by the man, a practising homosexual,” announced THE DAILY MAIL. Queensland Health Minister Brian Austin was first among many who said: “These children appear to be the innocent victims of the permissive society Australia is becoming.”

Here we go, I thought, could this be the slippery slope, the excuse for a backlash we’ve been expecting?

Well, THE TIMES was quick to add fuel to the fire, in a scaremongering editorial: “The infection’s origins and means of propagation excites repugnance, moral and physical, at promiscuous male homosexuality — conduct which, tolerable in private circumstances, has with the advent of ‘gay liberation’ become advertised, even glorified as acceptable public conduct, even a proud badge for public men to wear.”

So, it’s all our fault is it? Overlooking the fact that gays are the victims not the originators of AIDS, THE TIMES continues: “Many members of the public are tempted to see in AIDS some sort of retribution for a questionable style of life.”

THE OBSERVER reported that Australian MPs were “demanding that the blood donor be charged with manslaughter”. While THE STANDARD was happy, I imagine, to report “Homosexuals in Sydney are being attacked by people who blame them for a nationwide outbreak of the often-fatal disease AIDS.”

THE TIMES, indeed, couldn’t leave the subject I alone and said that in Germany a “leading virologist” was predicting that “10,000 Germans could be expected to die of AIDS in the next six years.” This was followed up in their medical briefing with the unbelievable question “Is it wise to share a lavatory with a homosexual?”

THE TIMES also gave voice to a shameless bigot called Digby Anderson, anxious to take hold of this handy new weapon to with which to bash his pet hates: “It is no longer for the sceptics to show that the permissive revolution was a mistake: it is for its increasingly beleagured supporters to justify its continued incorporation in law and welfare provision.”

The right-wing SPECTATOR was moved to allow the following: “Given an inch, the homosexuals demand all. Granted legality, they have advanced boldly, noisily, immodestly, without shame, flaunting and organising themselves, proselytising vigorously, demanding ever-fresh ‘rights’, privileges, hand-outs, immunities, special representation.”

From the dangerous to the ludicrous as THE GUARDIAN said: “Police in New South Wales are being issued with plastic gloves because they fear the disease (AIDS) could be passed on by erring motorists.” If you can make sense of that, you’re a better man than I am.

Conjecture, half-truth and sensation are the last thing we need in a situation like this, which is why I was so angered not only by the half-baked things being said in the newspapers but also the BBC TV NEWS stating categorically: “20% of homosexual men are carrying the AIDS virus.” How the hell could they have arrived at a statistic like that? They mean, presumably, that 20% of gay men who’ve been treated in STD clinics have the virus — which is very different.

THE OBSERVER tried to make some kind of amends by carrying a moving interview with the mother of an AIDS victim whose son had been rejected and reviled because of his illness. After he died she ‘asked the specialist who had treated him whether he would have a word with her son’s boyfriend. This poor man wanted to know whether he was likely to get the disease, too. ‘Not unless he’s been up to the same shenanigans and has been mixing with the same company,” said the doctor. “That was the level of his counselling”.

Are you scared yet? I can tell you that the events of the last month have put the wind up me good and proper.


If I’d known there was going to be a gay TV festival last month I would have alerted you to it. It started with a chat show hosted by FRANK DELANEY (BBC2) in which Alison Hennegan had a ding-dong battle with Julian Mitchell (author of Another Country) over whether gay literature can, or should, be regarded as a separate genre. Result: Hennegan victorious, Mitchell mincemeat.

BEING HOMOSEXUAL an American documentary about gay life in the USA was tucked away at midnight on ITV whilst the OTHER HALF episode about Sir Angus Wilson and his boyfriend was repeated on BBC1. Channel 4’s JUST SEX series featured a programme about attitudes to gay sex and featured gay photographer Bob Workman. It also had a middle-aged man who averred: “It revolts me and I don’t know why.” Much of the same came from Richard Ingrams, editor of Private Eye who turned up on BBC2’s critics programme DID YOU SEE…? Discussing the aforementioned Just Sex, he spewed out his usual contorted logic regarding ‘homosexualists’ and was then thoroughly shamed by the two women on the panel. Later that week he missed being sent to jail by inches. Never mind, perhaps next time. He’s got a lot of crimes to answer for.

The came DIVERSE REPORTS on Channel 4 featuring the come-back of ex-Gay News editor Denis Lemon. Subtitled What a Difference a Gay Makes, it paraded an abysmal show of prejudice, confusion and lamentable ignorance on the part of the great British public. There, inevitably was Rugby council leader Gordon Collett gabbling absolute claptrap which seemed to leave even him foundering to make sense of it.

Finally, FORTY MINUTES (BBC2) covered the subject of ‘Rent Boys’ —a sordid little picture of self-delusion and excuse. They all said they really didn’t want to do it, but they “had to”. The ‘punter’ who was interviewed (and there seemed something particularly perverse in someone wanting to declare their ‘shame’ on TV) said he was “disgusted” but felt he “had to” keep on doing it. Oh dear.


THE GUARDIAN is anticipating that the Gay’s the Word trial will be “the biggest of its sort since the obscenity charge involving D.H. Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. Nicholas de Jongh had a background piece which turned up fascinating snippets like “Eight years ago Customs and Excise seized an edition of the work of Thomas Rowlandson, apparently unaware of the fact that the originals were hanging in the George collection at Windsor Castle.” He says that Gay’s the Word is supported by MPs, the NCCL and “a battery of writers and publishers of all persuasions.”

Meanwhile a letter in the DAILY TELEGRAPH also revealed an interesting (but irrelevant, I know) fact. Apparently one of the books the Customs philistines snatched was written by a 15th century woman called Christine de Pisan who, according to the correspondent, was “a Whitehouse of her day and fought valiantly against the obscene and depraving.”

It seems the men at the Customs had better watch out that their collected stupidity does not appear in a volume under the title “Customs Cock-Ups” — I’m sure it would be a weighty tome.

GAY TIMES 78, February 1985

More gay telly, treats last month – something which got up the nose of arch-moraliser Mary Kenny in THE DAILY MAIL: “I am profoundly against the persecution of homosexuals,” she said, after spending the whole column condemning us, “but too much pro-gay propaganda makes ordinary people feel hostile.” I wonder what she thinks all the anti-gay propaganda makes “ordinary” people feel – sympathetic?

Her ire had been raised by John Peacock’s play “More Lives than One” (BBC1). It was widely re-viewed, with Lucy Hughes-Hallett in the STANDARD saying: “I hope some toes were curling inside policemen’s boots last night …” She was referring to the cottage-squads depicted in the play, describing the police as: “Squandering whole afternoons in bullying, prurient little games.”

Herbert Kretzmer in THE DAILY MAIL observed: “Despite external signs of enlightenment, it strikes me that the prejudice against homosexuals is as rooted as ever and it was this continuing fear and loathing which provided the source of last night’s play.”

THE TIMES, of course, thought the cottage surveillance “a highly effective way of preventing a private indulgence from degenerating into a public nuisance.”

Sean Day-Lewis in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH said; “The play was a brave and mostly believable exploration of a difficult theme, but was opaque in its realisation of the bisexual capacity for taking its pleasures on all sides.” Just one comment about that Mr Day-Lewis: “Eh?”

Maureen Paton in THE DAILY EXPRESS said that “All he (the hero) wanted was to be treated like a human being – and here was a friend on the one hand urging him to suppress his instincts for the sake of his family and his aggressively liberated male lover on the other attempting to turn him into a card-carrying freak show.” Oh, by the way, subscriptions are due all those of you who want a new card entitling you to be a freak show.


LONDON Labour MP Chris Smith gave an interesting interview to NEW SOCIALIST about his decision to Come Out. With a majority of only 400, straight politicians might think Smith’s decision political suicide. But the interviewer, Christian Wolmar, put it another way: “A cynical observer might say that the timing of your coming out would guarantee that your party would re-select you because they couldn’t possibly be seen to de-select the only openly gay MP.” I hadn’t thought of that – but, anyway, how come Smith hadn’t come out before he was elected? “I didn’t do it because I was extremely worried about what the possible consequences might be.”

A Franklin cartoon

At least that’s honest, but I’m always a bit wary of gay public figures who’ve kept quiet for years and suddenly present themselves as shining examples to the rest of us.

No, I mustn’t carp – at least Smith has done it. Now, what about you other Westminster closet cases?


Rupert Murdoch, the Aussie owner of the most despicable ‘newspapers’ in the world was quoted in THE OBSERVER as saying: “I’d go to prison for The Sun but not for The Times”.

If that’s the case, he should have been doing hard labour years ago.


Left-wing councils that continue to promote gay rights really get the Tory press hopping mad. Hackney Council has produced a report that aims to give gay ratepayers the same rights as everyone else as regards adoption and fostering. Social welfare and so on. THE DAILY EXPRESS editorialised: “This is appalling foolishness. Despite the propaganda of militant homosexuals and trendy theorists, most of us still recognise the obvious truth: homosexuality is deviant.” The leader writer obviously had a bout of apoplexy while writing that – hopefully it might prove fatal. On the same day THE SUN, not to be topped, trotted out one of its hate-filled little homilies: “If it were not such a dangerous idea it would be laughable. Impressionable youngsters have enough difficulty coping with adolescence as it is. We can only assume that the Hackney loonies have taken over the asylum.” While the rest of us have to assume that the National Front has taken over the Sun.

A more considered, but equally lamentable reaction came from Peter Simple in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH. He wanted to challenge the “myth” that ten per cent of the population is gay. “When the hullabaloo over homosexuals erupted about 25 years ago, the figure given was 5 per cent. At this rate it should be 20 per cent by the end of the century.” But his real point came later: “What is thoroughly objectionable … is that homosexuals should be treated as ‘a community’ or a ‘minority group’.” He says that along with the Irish, women, blacks and the handicapped, we’ve been identified as a ‘group’ so that our vote can be manipulated by the Left. A tired argument which simply proves that if he thinks we’re that gullible, Peter really must be Simple.


The AIDS hysteria in the press continues unabated. It seems almost every day they manage to find some new shack-horror angle to splash in three-inch head-lines.

THE NEWS OF THE WORLD carried “gay plague” headlines in three consecutive issues, concentrating on the horrifying effects of the disease – on homosexuals of course. “Victims of gay plague long to die,” said one headline, whilst the following week came: “My doomed son’s gay plague agony”. The next issue carried: “Art genius destroyed by gay killer bug”. Anyone reading these stories would have got the impression that somehow only homosexuals are capable of getting AIDS. There was an element of rather sick self-congratulation in these pieces. They all seemed to be saying: “It can’t happen to us because we’re straight.”

Another batch of contaminated blood provided hundreds of column inches for the junk press. The DAILY EXPRESS was prompted to splash: “56 given AIDS killer blood” and told its readers: “The blood all came from a homosexual in his twenties who is now dying in hospital.” Lowest point was reached, needless to say, by the SUN, with a front-page story entitled: “Blood from gay .donor puts 41 at AIDS risk” (notice how, uncharacteristically, THE SUN had reduced the EXPRESS’s number of “innocent” victims by 15). “A gay blood donor with the killer disease AIDS has infected 41 other people it was reported last night.” I wonder how long it took reporter Leslie Toulson to create that first sentence which manages to make it appear that this poor man got some kind of kick from passing on the disease. The not very subtly concealed message is: see how irresponsible these queers are.

The leader-writer of THE SUN took the matter up on page two of the same issue: “In the streets of Britain there are an unknown number of men who are walking time bombs. They are homosexuals with the killer disease AIDS. When they volunteer as blood donors they become a menace to all society.” Notice the phraseology: “a menace to all society”.

I asked the editor of THE SUN, Kelvin McKenzie, whether he was prepared to take responsibility for acts of violence which might be incited against gay men by this highly provocative editorial. “I do not accept that our editorial did any more than urge all homosexuals, in the interests of the entire community, to think twice before giving blood,” was his reply.

Only THE OBSERVER tried to give balance with a small item headed: “Gays not to blame for AIDS”. It described how money was being withheld for research into AIDS because it had been incorrectly identified as a “gay disease”. “Government departments were described as reluctant to seem to ‘condone’ homosexuality. It was also blamed for an upsurge of anti-homosexual sentiment in Britain and abroad, providing a new focus for deep-rooted prejudice that years of ‘gay liberation’ have done little to dispel.” A doctor involved in AIDS research is quoted in the same feature saying: “In Africa the ratio of males to females with the disease is 1.1 to I — in other words almost exactly 50 per cent.”

Confirmation of this followed in THE LANCET, when it reported the case of a heterosexual couple, who had passed AIDS to their child. “This supports the idea that the virus can be transmitted heterosexually,” said The Lancet.

Picking this story up, the papers suddenly dropped the “gay plague” headlines. The gay angle suddenly became secondary as it dawned on them that they could get it, too. Except for THE SUN, of course, which still insisted that AIDS sufferers were “gay plague victims”.

It is papers like THE SUN and NEWS OF THE WORLD that do the whole community a disservice by encouraging bigotry in government departments and hindering research money. But what does Mr McKenzie and the rest of the Sun’s-of-bitches care — “the gay plague” makes them money and that’s the only criterion.


“Noel Coward’s friends are treating with ridicule the suggestion that he had a homosexual affair with the late Duke of Kent, the Queen’s uncle,” said the MAIL ON SUNDAY, pushing its crinolines firmly over its knees. The “allegation” had been made by author Michael Thornton, giving his book about the Queen Mother invaluable publicity in the process.

But could it be true or was it just greed for free advertising? Could His Grace really have been “one of them”? And surely our dear Noel wouldn’t have done such a thing, would he?

Well … would he?

GAY TIMES 80, April 1985

Although AIDS stories have now been mainly relegated to the inside pages, still hardly a day goes by when the papers don’t have something to say on the subject. And some of the angles they choose are nothing short of bizarre. What THE SUN lacks in restraint it more than makes up for in lunatic AIDS stories: “Gay club keys are blacked in AIDS scare.”

Then the ‘LIE FACTORY’ (as The Sun has been dubbed by its own workers) told us: “Black magic herbal remedies used by witchdoctors in Africa could cure AIDS.”

Which is fine except for the fact that in Africa AIDS really is an epidemic, which doesn’t say much for the efficacy of witchdoctors.


Leaving the SUN aside for the moment (and that’s a temptation) there have been a spate of “responsible” attempts to put right the damage the press has done. “AIDS: The Truth” said the DAILY MIRROR earnestly. “Panic is sweeping Britain over the killer virus AIDS” it began, as though the Maxwell mob had nothing to do with it. Meanwhile in equally sombre tones the NEWS OF THE WORLD tried to be informative: “AIDS continues to spread like a raging bushfire” —very cool, calm and reassuring I must say. The SUN tried to whip up . . . er, sympathy for AIDS victims with the gentle headline “I’M DYING OF AIDS!” In an interview with AIDS-sufferer Bill Ayres, THE SUN says: “Bill insists that his sexual lifestyle is similar to nearly all the homosexual population in Britain. He has lost count of how many sexual contacts he has had, some weeks just a couple, others ten or more. The total runs into thousands.” The same man appears in THE DAILY MIRROR saying “I’ve lead what you’d call a fast life. So what?”

The papers, of course, lapped this up, giving their readers a vicarious thrill while inviting their revulsion. Yes, those of us who want to survive know we have to adjust our behaviour—I hope we do, anyway—we don’t need the Sun with its hypocritical tut-tutting to tell us.

The same self-righteous message, all wrapped up in pomposity, emerged from THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: “However uncharitable it is to gloat over the sufferings of the principle victims of AIDS, homosexuals, it is unfortunately not without historical precedent that the public should look askance at the harbingers of new and virulent diseases. Homosexuals would best serve their interests as individuals and those of society as a whole by learning the lesson of unbridled promiscuity and observing a more regular lifestyle.”

Quite ironic, really, to find yourself being lectured by journalists, surely themselves among the most irresponsible and immoral section of the community. The holier-than-thou tone makes you want to throw up.

THE TIMES devoted a large amount of space to “AIDS: the facts, the fears, the future.” It was constructive and admitted: “AIDS has fuelled, not triggered, the increasing homophobia seen in recent years in the press. Curiously, and by contrast, radio and television have been a great deal more constructive in their approach.” And this is true. ‘Weekend World’ (ITV), ‘TV Eye’ (ITV), ‘Newsnight’ (BBC1), and ‘Medicine Now’ (Radio 4) have all given balanced and calm reportage. The exception must surely have been ‘The London Programme’ (ITV) which betrayed the trust of those who took part and produced a real frightener, with a blame-laden, finger-wagging approach to London’s gay community, chastising them for their ‘Bacchanalian ways’.


THE SUN, ever-anxious to keep us up to date with informed opinion on the subject, quoted an American psychologist, Paul Cameron: “All homosexuals should be exterminated to stop the spread of AIDS. It’s time we stopped pussy-footing around.” No doubt Kelvin McKenzie will be offering this man a job as a leader writer. In the EXPRESS, West Sussex County Councillor Bruce Hay urged that “homosexuals should carry identity cards to help the emergency service identify potential AIDS sufferers in accident cases”.

And just before I wipe my arse on THE DAILY STAR, I thought you might be interested in another example of its “humour”. “Whilst we are on the subject of British Airways, cabin staff are alarmed that they may catch AIDS from the 25 per cent of their number who are claimed to be gay. Seems their slogan should be ‘Fly the Fag’.”

With beautiful irony THE GUARDIAN revealed that THE TIMES has an epidemic of its own—three suspected cases of legionnaires disease have been found in the building. This is obviously a visitation from God sent to punish Fleet Street for its wicked lying. Hopefully the Times plague will spread up to the Bouverie Street bovver-boys at the SUN and strike them all down. Nobody deserves it more than Mr McKenzie and his pack of liars.


In THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, Peter Simple, he of the limitless bile, told of “a newly developed sector of the discrimination industry” —heterosexism. He quotes Annie Hughes, of the Advisory Centre for Education as saying: “even the most forward-looking authorities and schools ignore blatant discrimination against and, harassment of lesbian and gay students. The education system has a responsibility to take into account that there are many homosexuals in every school – with a possible frequency of 1 in 10.”

This extremely dubious figure,” says Simple is, of course, “part of the propaganda apparatus of those who, for whatever reason, are continually nagging away at us about this subject… her statement that it is hardly ever mentioned in lessons is pernicious. Why on earth should it? Homosexuality grows by proselytism.”

Peter Simple obviously subscribes to the idea that there is a large conspiracy going on and that no-one is really gay – we’ve all been persuaded into it by this fifth column of corrupters for reasons which aren’t quite clear. But who corrupted the corrupters?

His views represent the classic insecurity of straight men. They’re scared to death by homosexuality, probably because deep down they know it’s present somewhere in their own personality. Simple is the loser, of course. His view of humanity is so narrow and his heart so twisted by hate that it makes me shiver to think what he must be like.


There was a report in NEW SOCIETY of the progress being made in West Hollywood—the world’s first gay city. The recently-elected council of gay men and lesbians seems to be doing an excellent job, not only of protecting and promoting gay interests but those of the other residents, too. “The new city council was elected by an unlikely alliance between ‘greys’ and gays—singles and seniors.” Their common cause was to rid themselves of exploiting, parasitic landlords, and get some kind of rent control.

There are also efforts afoot to give gay relationships legal status. “The baroque circus, with AIDS as the skeletal ringmaster cracking the whip, has given gaeity a bad name, which legitimacy might improve,” says the author of the piece, Sasha Moorsom, and asks: “Where West Hollywood leads, will Islington be far behind?”

We can but hope.


The biography of Lord Mountbatten by Philip Ziegler was serialised in THE SUNDAY TIMES. The question it posed in one episode was: was Dickie gay? As “proof” that he was not, Ziegler says: “He loved the company of women, sought their affection and had an almost irresistible urge to use them as confidantes” and “his riding companions were usually invariably female.”

Now all this also applies to me (except the riding). I love the company of women and have lots of female confidantes. But please, Mr Ziegler, I am gay.

GAY TIMES 82, June 1985

Anti-gay hysteria reigns in Fleet Street and this month it has reached a new pitch. Using homosexuality as a blunt instrument with which to bash its political enemies, the Right-wing papers have poured relentless scorn, slander and hatred over us.

“Fury over sex-classes for under-16s at GLC on-the-rates gay centre” rambled a headline in the DAILY EXPRESS as it led into another of the ‘storms’ which seem to emanate mainly from the gin glasses of the well-patronised wine bars of Fleet Street. This was one of those totally fabricated ‘controversies’ which are of interest to no-one except the creepy propagandists of the press who have the uncanny ability to turn innocent activities into sinister-sounding goings-on. It was a classic of the genre.

The inventor of this particular flight of fancy was John Burns. He managed to turn the Gay Youth Movement’s Spring Festival into a “bizarre workshop” attended almost exclusively, according to him, by paedophiles. There was not a scrap of evidence to support any of the insinuations he made, not one fact to justify the shock-horror approach. And if you need any further proof that it was just another excuse to have a go at gays, just look who we have crawling from under his stone, with the every-ready quote, none other than our friend, Geoffrey Dickens MP. “It’s disgraceful,” he ‘stormed’, “Every parent ought to be concerned. This weekend must be cancelled.”

The other rent-a-gob Tory, Peter Bruinvels, was hammering on the door of that weird organ THE SUN when it revealed there was to be a gay storyline in ‘Dynasty’. He ‘stormed’ “It is sick and sad that the producers have revived the homosexual element. We don’t want this kind of thing on British TV.”

What kind of thing, exactly? Well, according to the SUN “the new affair will be more explicit. Steven is shown holding hands with Luke and hugging.” Aaaargh! Quick, pull the covers down over the piano legs, cover the children’s eyes—hugging! Whatever next?

Well, for that we have to return to THE DAILY EXPRESS for the wicked witch of the west, Jean Rook, to tell us about Greenwich Council’s decision to promote better understanding of homosexuality in its schools. Leading with her not-inconsiderable chin, the Rook crowed: “I believe in being tolerant of fairies and I don’t go round pulling off their wings. But let no man—let alone a recognised and practically qualified ‘teacher’ of the subject—attempt to teach my son how to fly off the standard course.”

A week later she was at it again: “as a 1985 mother, I’d sooner burn that classroom speech (in defence of Oscar Wilde) than deliver it to an increasingly warped and bent section of society which ill-names itself Gay. Gay? They are a miserable bunch of fanatics who spend their lives dismally pretending to revel in what they are. And outrageously trying to recruit others … Now my backlash is complete … to red Hell with Oscar Wilde!”

Jean Rook puts me increasingly in mind of one of those Daleks who screech “Exterminate! Exterminate!” in a rising pitch until eventually a fuse blows and a little wisp of smoke comes out of the top. I believe she’s now been sedated and taken back to The Home.

Then we come to turncoat ex-union leader and now Tory toadie, Lord Frank Chapple. “The latest idea from Greenwich council is as queer as I’ve seen,” he wrote in THE DAILY MAIL. “Apparently the council’s education sub-committee wants school children to be taught the ‘riches … of homosexual experience!’ I say, no way.”

But who the hell cares what Frank says? He lost his credence a long time ago.


Predictably the election of Bob Crossman as the first ‘out’ mayor in the London Borough of Islington provoked the papers to sneers. They obviously couldn’t cope with it in any other way. George Gale in THE DAILY EXPRESS said: “Homosexuals usually like dressing up. Bob Crossman and his boyfriend might fancy themselves in ‘mayor and mayoress’ gowns and chains. We will then be able to consider the lilies of Islington. They toil not neither do they spin—but Solomon in all his glory would not be arrayed like one of these.”

I suggest you go and lie down with a Valium, George.

Another columnist with a lot of impotent rage is Alan Williams in THE MAIL ON SUNDAY. “Now all this is very amusing,” he sneers, “But such idiocies have sinister implications… While we continue to deride Victorian values and giggle at the novelties of trendy ‘sexual politics’, in the end we find it is the grim, humourless zealots of the Left who have the last laugh. And when they do … we may think it about as funny as a bread queue on a cold day in Siberia.”

So, that’s how we’re going to bring down Western civilisation is it? I’d often wondered.


Straight critics, even in the gutter papers, were over the moon about Oscar-winning gay film The Times of Harvey Milk. lain Johnstone in THE OBSERVER said it was “an historical document of lasting value” and “one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.” Philip French in THE SUNDAY TIMES found it “an eloquent and deeply moving picture” whilst THE MAIL ON SUNDAY critic defied “anyone not to be moved by it”. Clive Hirschhorn of THE SUNDAY EXPRESS conceded that the film “deservedly won an Oscar”, whilst Neil Sinyard in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH said, “the film was ultimately a wide-ranging plea for tolerance and it is hard to imagine anyone not responding to it.”

Only the DAILY TELEGRAPH found sympathy with Dan White, Harvey Milk’s assassin. Trying to make excuses for the double murder, THE TELEGRAPH said: “It was perhaps due to a subconscious fear that with the multiplication of homosexuals, reproduction must eventually cease altogether, a powerful influence toward self-preservation, as it were.”

If, even after seeing the film, this man could write such twaddle, we should bear in mind the words of Derek Malcolm in THE GUARDIAN: “It shows how minorities only have to work together to gain meaningful power, and how ordinary people can be persuaded that those they have originally feared, or even hated, can work with them towards the same general good.”

If you haven’t seen the film, I urge you to do so. But for those who are not in London—start lobbying your local art cinema or film society to include it on their programme. And a letter to the film buyers at the TV stations wouldn’t go amiss.


“I cannot imagine a Christian society in which divorce, abortion, sexual relationships before marriage and homosexuality are tolerated,” said the Pope in Holland.

Coming as he does from the Vatican’s long line of thieves, murderers and criminals, John Paul II seems a comparatively mild Pope. But his dotty doctrines, with their nonsensical and inhumane demands, got a rough ride in the Netherlands last month.

How comforting it was to see the Popemobile being pelted with eggs and bottles. How gratifying to see the ghastly old duffer squirming in his chair as his ‘supporters’ gave him an earful. According to the DAILY TELEGRAPH he sat ‘stony-faced’ as a missionary leader, Henrietta Wasser, told him off for his attitudes to sexual matters. She says he “points the finger instead of extending the hand.”


Remember Donna (born-again) Summers? She’s the singer who rode to fame on the backs of her gay fans and then said: “Homosexuals have brought Aids on themselves. The disease is a retribution from God”.

Now the EVENING STANDARD reports she is “attempting a reconciliation with her fans.”

This probably means Donna’s short of a bob or two. Well, as far as I’m concerned she can piss off and ask Billy Graham for a loan.


Nobody will be surprised by the stopping of the grant to the London Lesbian and Gay Centre. In reporting the decision, THE NEW STATEMAN asks: “What gloss did the clerks of the DoE come up with to save the ‘human face’ of Kenneth Baker?” Nothing feasible, I’m afraid. But that hasn’t stopped THE SUN calling it a “seedy pick-up joint” and THE DAILY MAIL repeating the slander. THE MAIL ON SUNDAY also calls it a “pick-up joint” —even though not one of the writers has ever been near it.


I LOOK forward to seeing you all on the Pride March. Fleet Street has made it important that we all show up this year —so please make the effort.

GAY TIMES 83, July 1985

It’s inevitable with Wimbledon around there would be surge of interest in Martina Navratilova. Her honesty about her sexuality totally flummoxes the media. Because she’s so successful I can’t help but wonder how much of this prurient interest in her private life has to do with a desire to hurt and humiliate her.

When she’s interviewed the reporter usually starts off with tennis and rapidly steers the whole thing (as in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH) round to: “Her image has been affected by her romantic episodes with women, most publicly with the novelist Rita Mae Brown.”

But THE DAILY STAR started the other way round. Forgetting the tennis, they got right down to the nitty-gritty. “I cherish Martina, she means so much to me — Judy” was their front-page lead for a so-called exclusive interview with Martina’s “live-in friend” Judy Nelson. The snivelling reporter, Allan Hall, tried to present himself a close confidante of Judy’s. He worked hard on giving the impression that Judy had opened her heart to him and only him. After a load of guff about Judy’s children and the break-up of her marriage (all second-hand stuff) he could contain himself no longer. The $64,000 question just had to be put. “Are you Martina’s lover?”

Well, with Allan being so close to Judy, we could expect mystery to be solved once for all couldn’t we? I’m afraid not. “She stormed off” he wrote disconsolately, no nearer the truth than any of the tripe-hounds who pursue the women so doggedly.

Martina has been honest, told them she’s a lesbian – what more do they want? I must say, if I had Martina’s legendary forearm smash at my disposal, I’d be sorely tempted to aim it in the direction of Allan Hall and his colleagues.


TWO opinions on the subject of gays fostering and adopting children. The first, from Peter Simple, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH columnist who is marginally on the right of Attilla the Hun. His technique is to put anything he doesn’t agree with into quotes (“the women’s movement”, “Gay rights” or “ethnic minorities” for instance) trying to suggest that they aren’t quite real, the figment of someone’s imagination. He questions Camden Council’s policy of developing “positive policies in respect of lesbians and gay men interested in fostering or adopting children.”

“Only one question need be asked,” says Simple, “do these women honestly believe that this would be a good thing, or do they want, from political motives, to tease the ‘ordinary people’ they so deeply despise and confuse them so that they cannot tell good from bad?”

How refreshing, therefore to turn to someone who knows what they’re talking about, namely Graham Martin a social worker writing in SOCIAL WORK TODAY. He tells of his experience in arranging fostering for a lesbian couple he calls Joan and Mary. “They served as foster parents for 18 months and were popular, successful and skilful. I came to realise that in fact their sexuality was a minor, almost irrelevant issue.” He says that the ‘dilemma’ of Joan and Mary’s sexuality never arose. “Parents accepted their relationship as the warm, caring partnership which it is.”

He sees gay couples as a “ripe source of recruitment, many couples being childless and likely to remain so, yet they have the same parenting instincts as the rest of the population.” He says that gays are probably quietly fostering in other parts of the country too.

Joan and Mary had been warned that they might be crucified by the “gutter press” if their activities were made public, but they decided to go ahead anyway. Demonstrating an admirable courage which must speak volumes for, their suitability for the job.


A beautifully argued (and equally well-written) piece on Aids by Martin Amis appeared in THE OBSERVER. It compared reactions to the disease on both sides of the Atlantic.

After a terrifying description of what is happening to some Aids victims in New York because of the failings of the health insurance system (“What we have is diseased bag-persons living on the street. No-one will house them. No-one will feed them.”). He offers a rationale about gay lifestyles and why they shouldn’t be made into simple variations on the straight model. “The consoling idea of the quietly monogamous gay couple is an indolent and sentimental myth. With a large number of exceptions, it just isn’t like that. Friendship, companionship, fellowship — these are paramount, but pairing and bonding on the wedlock model is our own dated fiction.”

But he also tells heterosexuals that they won’t be able to regard Aids as “the gay plague” much longer. Soon it will be simply a sexually transmitted disease and it will change heterosexual lifestyles too.

“The liberation of coitus, the rutting revolution, has probably entered its last phase. When the danger is ultimate, then every risk is ultimate, too. It is over.”

Amis doesn’t see a cure for Aids, but the disease will “probably obey Darwinian rules and seek an evolutionary strategy, becoming less virulent, non-fatal.”

But as we know evolution takes a long time and, in the meantime, “Aids victims are in the forefront of the very pinnacle of human suffering.”


In THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH we have Alexander Chancellor writing about the shortcomings of the Post Office. So, what has this to do with homosexuality? You may well ask. We must be careful not to imply for one moment that the Gay Post Office / Telecoms workers bears any part of the responsibility for the appalling deficiencies in the postal serves,” he says.

The piece ends with a rebuke to the Post Office for their failings. Now can someone explain why he introduced the gay group into all this? We’ve already been blamed for the fall of the Roman Empire, the litter on Hampstead Heath and so on — but the late delivery of first-class letters?

I must be careful not to imply for a moment that Mr Chancellor has gone off his rocker.


In the Jehovah’s Witness journal THE PLAIN TRUTH (which contains anything but) there was a letter from a supposed reader (name and address withheld on request) who says “After years of being ashamed, crying and seeking a crutch, I prayed for God’s help. It took over a year . . . now I don’t enjoy going into gay bars. In fact, when I went in there lately, the surroundings made me somewhat sick. I thought of different guys who were gay … I asked God to change me. He has!”

Changed to what? Changed from being simply an unhappy gay man to being a miserable, carping Christian gay man. Some choice.


The Cyprus “secrets for sex” trial (which enabled THE SUN to feature the word “Gay” in three-inch letters on the front page yet again) opened sensationally. It’s the sort of thing the papers love.

I’m looking forward to more details of the fascinating-sounding “splash parties”. And a small tip for those in pursuit of the dirty details — you have to get the posh papers. The limitations imposed on the tabloids by their ‘family’ pretensions must drive their editors wild during cases like this.

The most prurient particulars only come out in papers like THE TIMES and THE GUARDIAN.

And my prediction is that homosexuality will have no real part in this trial at all. But we’ll have to wait and see.

GAY TIMES 85, September 1985

We’ve been well represented on telly this month starting with a modest little American documentary called Greetings from Washington (C4), a simple record of the 1979 Gay Pride march there. Then we were given a chilling glance of what life was like for gays in pre-1967 Britain in the Dirk Bogarde film Victim (C4). It is difficult to believe that only twenty years separates us from those terrible times.

Those intervening two decades are supposed to have been the “permissive” era and in Twenty Years On (ITV), David Frost chaired a lively, if superficial, discussion about the whole thing, including contributions from Denis Lemon, Richard Kirker and Germaine Greer. There was cheering news that a Gallup poll revealed that 82% of the British public thought that “homosexuals have rights”.

What seemed to be emerging was that people don’t feel happy with ‘movements’—be they gay or women’s—but they have no trouble accommodating individual people’s needs and feelings.

Germaine Greer popped up again presenting a religious programme called Choices (BBC1) in which sexuality—and particularly homosexuality-was discussed from a ‘spiritual aspect.’ Instead of the usual stereotyped responses from the fundamentalists, we had a rational (as far as reason can enter into religion) debate which came down firmly in favour of progress. Perhaps, though, this had something to do with the composition of the participating panel than a real change of heart amongst orthodox religionists.


The most pervasive image in the papers last month was that picture of Rock Hudson—gaunt and enfeebled. Day after day the same sunken-eyed, hollow-cheeked face looked out from headlines which ranged from “Rock Hudson Dying of Cancer” (SUN) to—when Aids was confirmed—”I saw Rock Wed Man” (NEWS OF THE WORLD), and the floodgates opened once more.

Poor Rock Hudson. The vultures have swooped in to pick at his bones before he’s even dead. “Our gay nights out with AIDS victim Rock” gloated THE SUN whilst THE STAR ran a three-day series purporting to be “the truth about Rock Hudson” which told us nothing but that Rock Hudson is gay and dying from Aids.

All the old clichés were wheeled out “Living a lie”, “secret torment” “bizarre lifestyle” and so on. Oh how they wallowed in it. John Junor in THE SUNDAY EXPRESS said: “There is rightly much public sympathy for Mr Hudson. Might there not have been more if when suspecting, as he must have done, the nature of the ailment from which he was suffering, he had not gone out of his way, as do homosexuals who offer blood, to place other and innocent people in danger.”

Innocent? What is Rock Hudson supposed to be guilty of? As far as the vile Junor is concerned he is guilty simply of being gay.

But who will be the next victim for them to “expose”? The rush to deny gayness has been rather undignified. Burt Reynolds is the hot favourite—he is reported to be suffering from some unnamed illness but insists it is not you-know-what. And the sneaky William Hickey in THE DAILY EXPRESS carried a little piece about Rudolph Nureyev. Apparently, the ballet star has had pleurisy and pneumonia. “He just overworked himself so was vulnerable,” his London agent Tony Barlow was quick to point out. But we got Sickey’s message.


Also, anxious for the world to know that they are not gay are George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham. “Gay? I’ve never been in love says George” in THE STAR. THE SUNDAY MIRROR carried much the same kind of thing from Wayne Sleep “Don’t Call Me Gay—why bachelor Wayne sleeps alone.” THE MIRROR said that Boy George had a “secret lover”—none other than Jon Moss, drummer of Culture Club. But what does Jon have to say about this? Very little, but his spokesman says: “This is so ridiculous.” Thanks a bundle you guys.


But back to Aids and how is this for five-star hypocrisy? THE DAILY TELEGRAPH carried an editorial that chided newspapers for, “a tendency to hysteria and myth”. It then goes on to say: “Moreover the scarcely concealed glee in some quarters about divine retribution for perversion is at best lacking in any Christian compassion, and at worst morally repugnant.” But wasn’t it this same newspaper that only recently wrote about the temptation to “gloat over the sufferings of homosexuals”? Now they say: “Homosexuals are seen as carriers of a deadly disease, and a threat to society at large. In this climate, a typical response … is for the gay community to retrench even further into a stereotyped politicised minority. Nothing could be more detrimental to better understanding nor be guaranteed to bring this controversy to a more bitter and fruitless end.”

Isn’t this rich coming as it does from Fleet Street which has consistently ignored the real needs of homosexuals and continues to present us as “bizarre” and “weird”. I think it’s what’s called a no-win situation.

Take THE SUN which carried this gem: “The sickest joke among America’s 12 million gays goes like this. Son: Mom, I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is I’m gay. The good news is I’m dying.” I would stake my arm that such a “joke” did not emanate from the gay community—more likely from the sick minds festering in the Sun offices.

Meanwhile, THE DAILY MAIL tells us that “Aids is spreading through Europe as rapidly as in America, says the World Health Organisation.” Does the Government listen? “The country is sitting back waiting for half a million people to be infected, instead of the 10,000 or so that we have at present,” said Professor Julian Peto in THE OBSERVER. “We are heading inexorably towards an Aids crisis like the one in America today.”

To demonstrate this Government’s strange priorities, I quote Dr Richard Tedder, consultant virologist at the Middlesex Hospital in the same OBSERVER feature: “We are planning to spend £10 million a year screening all the blood in the transfusion service, which will prevent about 50-100 patients from receiving affected blood. Why are we not spending £100 million on trying to prevent the 10,000 infected people from spreading the disease by sexual contact and other means?” Dr Jon Weber of St Mary’s Hospital said the Government was showing “incredible complacency.”

Maybe the first shot in a gigantic threat to us all was fired in THE TIMES. Dr John Griffin said that there should be “compulsory” screening of male and female prostitutes and “Laws aimed at trying to ensure that Aids sufferers do not pass on the infection are being considered in Sweden”. Then he says: “If the morbidity and mortality due to Aids is to be contained, it could well be necessary to take swift action in a number of controversial areas.”

What these “controversial areas” might be is not clear, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to know what our enemies would like to see. The Government, which is starving researchers and educators of funds, is no friend of gays. We are vulnerable and our only hope is responsibility and a united voice in the face of hostility.


William Hickey reports that Lord Snowdon “chose author Charles Castle to write the first biography of his bachelor uncle Oliver Messel” but told him that he must not mention the interior decorator and stage designer’s homosexuality.

Well, that’s one little volume I won’t be soiling my hands with.


THE LONDON STANDARD says, “A million people who work with children are to be subject to new police vetting to make sure they do not have records of sex offences, Home Secretary Leon Brittan announced today.”

That sounds like bad news for all those gays who work in “sensitive” jobs with young people. For my personal experience is that you don’t have to have a criminal record to find yourself on the police computer listed as gay.

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 87, November 1985

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)

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

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.