HIM/GAY TIMES 74, October 1984

An horrendous report in THE EALING AND CHISWICK GUARDIAN tells of the two gay guys who dared to kiss each other in the street. They were promptly arrested and hauled before Marlborough Street Magistrates Court. The police claimed they had received complaints about the men kissing from a straight couple. According to PC Martin Holden, the young male half of this allegedly affronted couple approached the canoodling gays and said: “You filthy beasts, how dare you do that in front of my girlfriend.” The accused said no such incident took place, there was no couple and no complaint.

So, who exactly were the affronted couple? What were their names and why weren’t they in court to support PC Holden’s evidence?

The defence suggested that PC Holden invented the couple and that they were, in fact, a figment of his imagination. PC Holden denied this, but could not produce a scrap of evidence to support his claim.

Who would you believe? And, more importantly, who did the magistrate believe?

Needless to say, the men were convicted of “insulting behaviour” and their names and address were printed in the paper.

Do you remember the story of Pinocchio? Well, I don’t know how long PC Martin Holden’s nose was, but I’ll bet it’s a hell of a lot longer since this case.


It seems that straights are trying to commandeer Camp and claim it as their very own. In a new book called simply ‘Camp’ author Philip Core tries to extend the concept right out of recognition. But it takes gays to show how it’s really done. Like the anecdote quoted in THE LONDON EVENING STANDARD’s review of ‘Camp’. Tallulah Bankhead the famed Hollywood lesbian “Was at a New York wedding when a cardinal passed her in full regalia swinging a smoking censer. As he passed Tallulah remarked: ‘Darling your drag is divine, but your purse is on fire.’” Delicious.


Do you remember the legendary Alan Whicker programme that suggested gays were welcome in San Francisco’s police force? I always had my doubts about its veracity, and now I’m sure it was just a propaganda exercise.

According to THE SUN a “gay cop” called Paul Siedler was seen on a TV newsreel kissing one of the male participants in this year’s San Francisco Gay Pride March, which he was marshalling. “Shocked police chiefs were checking if there are grounds for dismissal,” says the SUN.

I knew it all along. Pigs are pigs the world over.


An item in THE MAIL ON SUNDAY reads: “Miners at Shoreham power station thought they had the perfect spot to picket — it overlooked the nudist beach. Then they discovered all the naturists were gay.”

Is it supposed to be funny? Perhaps they forgot to print some of it . . .


Get the smelling salts for Her ‘Majesty. Pass Lady Windermere her fan! The shadow of homosexuality has been cast over the cult of Princess Diana! No, it seems her step-brother Adam Shand Kydd has written a novel with gay heroes. Not that he is gay himself, of course, God forbid! “The 29-year old bachelor” says (in MIDWEEK magazine): “It’s not a gay novel, but what can you do if people slam labels on you? I chose a homosexual couple because I find it impossible to write convincingly about women — what makes their minds tick over.”

Breathe easy, your Ladyship — there’s no real taint.

But what’s this in THE SUN — Prince Andrew (he’s the rather fat boy who looks like a chimpanzee) almost went to Heaven, yes THE Heaven where the gay brotherhood gathers. Only when his bodyguard forbade the visit did Andrew think again.

But if Andy thinks he’s randy, he might meet his match within the portals of Heaven.


Obituaries of Truman Capote present him as an enigma. A writer who convinced people that he was important, but who didn’t manage to live up to his own hype. An interesting development here is the mention of homosexuality as being a major aspect of his life. How many gays have passed through the obituary columns with their sexuality unmentioned?

THE GUARDIAN says that Capote was “half in and half out of the closet” —a very strange idea because surely there can be no half measures in Coming Out. As Tom Robinson said in the last issue of GAY TIMES, once you’re out, there’s no going back. Anyway, THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH said that Capote’s taste in men changed. At first “he liked middle-aged chaps with suits and ties, happy marriages and perhaps a position in the local church”. Later “his taste coarsened” and he went for “simpler men — very simple sometimes”.

The general consensus that Capote’s life was mis-spent and his talent wasted in pursuit of celebrity, riches and pleasure, as THE DAILY MAIL put it it.


Peter Conrad’s review of the books ‘View from Christopher Street’ and ‘Aphrodisiac’ in THE OBSERVER demon­strates an unusual knowledge of gay American history and mores. He gives an interesting analysis of how U.S. gays have split themselves into “fractious cadres, each adhering to its own sartorial character, the old androgynes with their scarves and bangles against the new brutes stomping in work books and hard hats, leather tormentors in harnesses against transvestites, those critics of the macho mystique. Manhattan clones with their lumberjack flannel against those from Chicago who prefer the collegiate look.’

Conrad also identifies the growing distaste for the dehumanising philosophy of “fast-food sex” … “on the corner of Christopher Street where those en route to the disco, roller rink, or the disused warehouse by the river once bought flasks of the aphrodisiac amyl nitrate, volunteers now collect donations for medical research.”


As the world turns to the right (viz Canada electing Tories and President Reagan declaring himself a sort of Christian Ayatollah) we now have news of Australia’s own monstrous Sir Johannes Bjelke-Peterson, premier of Queensland. In an OBSERVER feature this ancient extremist, who has been in power for 16 years. is quoted as regarding homosexuals as “insulting, evil animals”.

He also opposes rights for Aborigines, hates conservation and wants The Great Barrier Reef exploiting for the maximum profit.

He bans street demonstrations by “homosexuals. lesbians, do-gooders, anyone who seeks to improve the lot of Aborigines, political moderates and critics of his wife, Flo.” He also likes to spend taxpayers’ money on aeroplanes for himself.

THE OBSERVER presented the 74-year old Aussie oddball as a corrupt, selfish, intolerant, deeply ignorant man who should never have been allowed anywhere near public office, let alone retain it for 16 years.

Such are the perils of democracy.


Michael Jackson, the hormone-gobbling warbler, is at it again. According to the front page of THE DAILY STAR, Jackson has once more issued a statement “denying rumours that he is gay”. He did it against the wishes of his advisers. I think they were right, be­cause now bad-mouth comedienne Joan Rivers is quoted in THE DAILY MIRROR as saving “Michael Jackson makes Liberace look like a member of the green berets.”

Let’s be honest – he does ask for it.

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 December 2000

In the Left corner we have Michael Portillo, who was once a homosexual but now assures us that he has outgrown it. In the Right corner is Ann Widdecombe, a woman who could make one believe that the alien invasion has truly begun. And in the centre we have William Hague, the only person alive who was born middle aged.

This is the modern Conservative Party, lost in the realms of the surreal and bizarre and desperately trying to convince the electorate that it isn’t just a bunch of losers, has-beens, borderline psychos and bloodthirsty old ladies.

First attempt at salvaging the wreck came at the Party conference in October. There, Michael Portillo made a speech declaring that there was a place for us all in the new, caring, inclusive Tory party. “We are a party for the people, not against the people,” he said. “We are for all Britons: black Britons, British Asians, white Britons. Britain is a country of rich diversity… We are for people whatever their sexual orientation. The Tory party isn’t merely a party of tolerance: it’s a party willing to accord every one of its citizens respect.”

This was greeted with stony silence by the gathered multitude of blue-rinsed tricoteuses who wanted blood and retribution, not lily-livered kindness. Indeed, as The Independent commented the following day: “The Conservative Party is, as those who know it and well attest, a party that can almost be described as ‘institutionally homophobic’. Anyone who witnessed the reception given at The Independent’s fringe meeting to our columnist and former Tory MP Michael Brown, who is open about his homosexuality, will be in no doubt about the ugly prejudices all too readily displayed by some Tory activists. Too few of them would agree with Mr Portillo’s view: ‘The Conservative Party looks for things that mark people out as individual and exceptional. We are for people whatever their sexual orientation.’”

Questioned next day about Mr Portillo’s call for social tolerance, Ann Widdecombe affected not to know what the words meant. “What I believe is that the state should have a preferred model, that it should promote the traditional family,” she said, with that characteristic purse of the lips.

So, what is “official” Tory party policy towards gay people? Are we in or are we out? Well, according to Steve Norris, the Party’s vice-chairman, we should be in. In fact, we should be leading from the front. In an interview with YouGov.com, which describes itself as an “e-democracy site”, Mr Norris said: “I see no reason why in the future we might not have a prime minister who was from an ethnic minority, or for that matter gay… As the party that was the first to bring you a woman prime minister… I have no doubt that the first gay prime minister will probably be a Tory.”

Sorry Steve, but I think we have already had our first gay prime minister and probably our second one, too. Perhaps what he meant is the first “out” gay prime minister. In which case, is he trying to tell us something about somebody?

Anyway, such talk didn’t please Norman Tebbit, the Tory party’s bigot-in-chief of yesteryear. He wrote, with his usual restraint, in The Sunday Telegraph: “If sodomites have a human right to marry would it not be inevitable for paedophiles to establish their right to child sex and inevitably would follow those with a taste for bestiality?”

Mr Norris retorted that: “Mr Tebbit thinks that every homosexual is a paedophile, is a closet paedophile. He is entitled to his view, but it’s not one that I or, I believe, any decent person shares.” Francis Maude, the shadow Foreign Secretary, whose brother died from Aids, is also a “tolerater”. He said: “Tolerance is not an optional addition to this party’s values: it is an absolutely vital part of it which sustains us.” The Defence spokesman Iain Duncan Smith, on the other hand, wants gays out of the army as soon as possible.

But these people are just the monkeys. It’s the organ grinder’s opinion we want. Surely the leader of the party can give us a definitive answer as to whether the Tory party is pro-gay or anti-gay?

We turn to a speech given by the great leader in Cardiff to a convention of newspaper editors. According to The Independent he “endorsed Michael Portillo’s call to show greater tolerance towards homosexuals”, and promised that the party’s new inclusive approach would not be a “one-week wonder”.

“I do not accept the false distinction that is sometimes made between respecting the lifestyle decisions of individuals and championing mainstream values,” Mr Hague explained. “Conservatives should do both, for we are neither libertarians nor authoritarians… I see no contradiction, nor do most people, in saying that we respect people of different sexual orientation, but we don’t want Section 28 repealed.”

So is that yes or no – because I certainly see a contradiction in the idea that we’re welcome but only as second-class citizens.

Having got no further with that, we then proceed to the Tory’s “Policy Forum on Britain’s Faith Communities” held in a church in Westminster. There, Mr Hague was addressing just about all the country’s religious leaders: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and just about every other deluded sect and cult you can think of. According to The Times, the speech he made to these people was “an attempt to balance the call made by Michael Portillo, the Shadow Chancellor, at the party conference for tolerance to all sections of the community whatever their sexual orientation.”

Mr Hague said: “On the subject of the family, I would like to thank those religious leaders who are fighting to retain Section 28. I am delighted that representatives of the Christian Institute and Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Great Britain are here with us today. Britain’s Muslims are standing tall in this campaign and millions of parents will be grateful for that.”

Ann Widdecombe was also at the “policy forum”, moving among her natural constituency of intolerant, narrow-minded fundamentalists. Would she consider converting to Islam, someone asked. She expressed her admiration for the “uncompromising” nature of Islam, bemoaning the fact that “They are like the Christian churches used to be.” And on the subject of homosexuality she said: “Tolerating other lifestyles doesn’t mean affording them equal validity.”

Indeed, The Independent reported that the whole forum had “a strong anti-homosexual odour.”

Dawvd Noibi, an Islamic consultant with the Muslim education charity IQRA Trusts, opined that the time for pussy-footing by leaders about homosexuality was clearly over. “If we don’t speak out now we’ll all be responsible before God,” he warned. There was a shout of ‘hear, hear’ and applause when Mr Noibi added that there was ‘no excuse’ for gay couples having children. Then a Ms Maqsood said there was compassion for gays, but many Muslims would like to see money invested in a ‘cure’ for the ‘abnormality’. Perhaps all that was needed was a simple injection, she said.

This rather pathetic crawling to the hard-line religious lobby horrified Matthew Parris. In The Times he chided Mr Hague for his unconvincing, new-found religiosity: “Voters in this deeply agnostic country know in their bones if not always in their heads that the world of faith comes not accompanied by love, devotion and service alone, but also with many hatreds, much censoriousness, and an insistent desire to punish. When we hear from an evangelical ‘support marriage’ we hear not only support for some, but disapproval for others.”

So, what do all these mixed messages mean? What is Mr Hague’s motivation in saying that there is a place for homosexuals in his new vision for Britain and then throwing in his lot with our bitterest and most implacable enemies?

Perhaps Alice Miles in The Times has the answer, and it is, in her words “breathtakingly cynical”.

“I asked a member of the Shadow Cabinet what was the strategy behind ‘governing for all’. It was, he explained, borrowed from this year’s Republican convention, where George W. Bush did all that public reaching out to black people. ‘It wasn’t because he thought they would vote for him,’ he said, ‘but in order to reassure floating voters who might vote Republican’ but were embarrassed by the right-wing image. The Tory leadership doesn’t expect the black and Asian communities, or the poor to vote for them. ‘Of course not, but if the people we do want to vote for us think we are uncaring, we must have inner-city policies to show that we’re not.”

So there you have it. Mr Hague is not courting the gay vote; he is courting the votes of decent people who are repelled by the Tory’s nastiness and narrow-mindedness. If he can really convince that mass of liberal, tolerant people out there that he is not really an irredeemable gay-basher, then they just might come back to the fold.

Now we see it. Mr Hague is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Ann Widdecombe is the Rottweiler guarding and reassuring the existing flock, while Michael Portillo is trying to tempt a few unsuspecting sheep from another fold with his touchy-feely, you-can-trust-me approach.

There’s only one answer. Run a mile.