Gay News launched in May 1972, and was at first collectively edited by a group of people including Denis Lemon, Doug Pollard and Glenys Parry, all of whom were gay liberation campaigners before, during and after their involvement in the newspaper.
The Gay News Archive Project writes about these first pioneering issues:
The newspapers tell an important story in the history of LGBT+ rights in the United Kingdom in the 1970s – an area of queer history that is often overlooked, partially because, in the words of Tom Robinson, “the buggers are legal now, what more are they after?”. The era covered is one where male homosexuality had been partially decriminalised, so long as only two men were doing it, and they were alone, and the building in question contained only them (ruling out hotels and having friends staying over!), and they were both over 21 – the age of consent remaining at 16 for straight people.
Yet it was a fun a time. The newspaper revels in the joy of being gay, of having gay friends and of breaking free from the constraints of straight society in a time before the arrival of HIV and AIDS in our community. There are as many laughs to be had in its pages as there are sorrowful stories and angry rants – all of life is in these pages.
SNIPPETS (page 12)
From the Observer……”Writing biographies of Edward Heath is becoming a cottage industry.”
And from somewhere a little nearer home……”Course, Teddy’s never had any trouble, ‘cept once, when he went with someone who wasn’t in the services.”
We also hear the Gay Liberation Front’s newspaper, ‘Come Together’, is now being referred to in certain rather structured gay circles as “Fall Apart.”
And while we’re in that corner of the world, may we express our condolences to the exalted gentleman who slipped his disc in a counselling session.
Finally, a sobering thought for all gay newshounds everywhere.
“Over and above everything else Jeremy was in love with himself: but he didn’t get on together.”
Or, as we were told the other night in the caff up the road………
“Toilet? It’s downstairs, it’s the ladies. We share everything here.”
Bye for now.
Personal Ads from the second issue
- Versatile, middle-aged Male, slim, lovely cheeks (been told often), seeks intelligent similar, any age up to 45. Preferably fond of Mozart. For companionship, and everything else. Box 9.
- Bournemouth – Young Man or Male Student wanted as Part-timer in Small Guest House for Summer Season. Accommodation if required. Box 10.
- It is an offence to conspire to incite males to commit homosexual acts – The Law Officers Department. Box?
- Hardworking young man, 21, looking for an older, steadier person to live with in London. Versatile, well educated and refined, and not ‘camp’ or ‘kinky’, just happy. Box 11.
- Beautiful young gay male seeks companionship of gay people willing to provide lodgings. Box 12.
- Mature Gentle Man own flat car etc., seeks young companion with varied interests in Winchester-Southampton area. Box 13.
- Slim 26 would like to meet active partner. Reply with photo. Box 14.
- Friendly, unprejudiced 38, a loner, would like to meet similar guys, any area. Interested in cinema, correspondence and photography. Guaranteed ALA. Box 15.
- Affectionate Lonely Male. Slim yung 50’s anxious for another who is alone 50-65 yrs, to share all included flat and mutual fun. Separate divans.N.C.P. please, recent snap please. Ilford. Box 16.
- Young Man Seeks large well built companions. for friendship, also seeks permanent friend. I like well developed people. Genuine replies only and photo. Box 17.
- Gay Male Student,23, needs place in gay flat/house. Reasonably central. Box 18.
- 4th Energetic Young Man Wanted, London-Venice lift only or 2/4 weeks camping, late July on (2 cars, 2 tents). Share costs. No other obligations. Photo. Box 19.
- Gay Students in the Redhill/Croydon/Guildford area interested in vacational experiences. Contact College Lecturer. Group meetings could be arranged. Box 20.
- Young Man, tired of playing games with straight gay scene, also GLF and CHE, wishes to meet for recreation. Box 21.
- Educated and Creative 22 year old seeks companionship and love as well as a place to live in London. Box 22.
- Writer, 40, seeks long-term relationship with thoughtful partner. Unluxurious accommodation probably available. Give phone number if a member of the phone-owning classes. Box 23.
- Gay Male, 25 inexperienced, wishes to meet masculine gay 21-26. Photogrphs required. All letters answered. Box 24.
- Wanted long-haired dolly young male to share all of my home, and car. Box 25.
The third issue contained this letter from WH Smith:
W.H. SMITH & SON LTD.
Strand House, Portugal Street
London WC2A 2HS
D. Pollard, Esq. 24th June, 1972.
Gay News Ltd.
19, London Street,
Dear Mr Pollard,
Thank you for your letter of 23rd June enclosing a copy of your projected fortnightly newspaper GAY NEWS.
I am afraid that I cannot feel that this publication would be a commercial proposition so far as W.H. Smith are concerned. As I am sure you will appreciate, one of our biggest problems is lack of display space and it is essential that such space as is available is given to titles which, in our opinion, will sell and sell quickly and, quite frankly, I do not think that GAY NEWS comes into this category.
I must, therefore, refuse your offer of supplies for W.H. Smith and thank you for giving us the opportunity.
News Buyer & Administrative Manager
News & Book Sales Department.
On page 3 there was a warning about the police in London:
DANGER! POLICE AT WORK
DANGER – Police and Transport Police are at work in the cottage at Baker Street Underground Station, and being rather physical too.
Also beware of the cottages in Battersea Park, where conveniences are under constant police surveillance.
Accomodation ads featured in Issue 4
- Young man in twenties (with large dog) requires immediately furnished flat in Central/North London. Up to £12 per week Box 67.
- Urgently Needed. 2 Large free or inexpensive rooms in Central London for Gay Social Activities, for both men and women. They will be needed continuously, but for at least 3 nights a week. Contact Gay News. Tel: 01-402 7805.
- Ilford Area. Batchelor offers share of flat. Prefer shared cost basis — any age/nationality considered. Permanent or short-term. Box 91.
- Andrew offers share of Trendy South Kensington Bedsit, £4.50 p.w., to trendy dishy butch fella for long or short let. Ring 373 2781, ask for Room 8 only.
- Young Man 20’s to share luxury garden flat in Hampstead, colour TV etc. £8 per week. Philip 794 8041 after 6.00pm
- Designer, 26, would like to share in gay flat/house towards the east end of London, or Islington. Box 88.
Old enough to wear long trousers.
Old enough to protect my sister in the dark of the night.
But I am not old enough to choose the way I love.
I joined the army today.
I’ve grown up now, you see.
I’m old enough to kill…
or to be killed.
I am not old enough to choose the way I love.
Now I really am a man.
Because I am old enough to marry, and to raise a family.
I’m old enough to drink in pubs –
No more kids shandies for me.
Yes, I can even vote.
I am not old enough to choose the way I love.
Twnety-one at last.
The day has finally come.
The way I love is mine to choose.
The only trouble is…
those I love,
are not old enough to choose
the way they love.
Love’s Laws by Karmon
THE CRICKETERS, Battersea Park Road, SW11.
(BR Battersea Park).
|Sun. The Trollettes.||Fri. Various Artistes.|
|Tues. Steel Band.||Say. Singalong & Dancing.|
|Wed. Various Artistes.||Compere/Organist|
|Thurs. Talent Night.||Kenneth Mancell.|
THE DORSET ARMS, 124 Clapham Road, SW4 (Oval Tube)
|Tuesdays. Michael and Bow.||Thursdays. Michael.|
|Sundays. Michael and Bow.|
THE NEW BLACK CAP 171 Camden High Street, NW1 (Camden Town Tube) Drag Every Night.
Featured artists include Mark Fleming, Bow, Mrs Shufflewick, Jean Fredericks, New Dumbells, Sandy Graham, Chris Kay.
Alan McGorrin is Gay News’s super salesman at The Black Cap. Be nice to him, he works very hard for us.
ROYAL VAUXHALL TAVERN.
372 Kennington Lane, SE11. (Vauxhall).
|Thursday (Alt.) Mr.Tammy or Lee Paris with Lettuce.|
|Friday. Mr.Tammy.||Monday. Bow.|
|Saturday. Lee Paris.||Wednesday. Lee Paris.|
|Sunday. (Lunch) Bow.||New Act Starting Soon.|
|Sunday. (Night) Mr.Tammy.|
ROYAL OAK. 62 Glenthorne Road, W6 (Hammersmith). Drag every night except Tuesday.
ELEPHANT AND CASTLE’. South Lambeth Place. SW8 (Vauxhall). Every nght except Tuesday.
Friday Mark Fleming
OXFORD TAVERN 256 Kentish Town Road. NW5 (Kentish Town) Drag on Tues. Wed. and Thurs.
Resident host Perri St Clair.
309 Harrow Road,W9 (Westbourne Park)
Drag on Wednesday and Sunday (Lunch & Eve)
THE BELL. Pentonville Road, N1 (Kings Cross).
Every Alt. Friday. Derek Rees. – Sandy Roy
THE BUSH HOTEL. 2, Goldhawk Road, W.12. (Goldhawk Road). Every Thursday.
Alexandra Road, St.John.s Wood, NW8
Wednesday’s Mr Angel. Friday’s Derek Rees.