“Actionpacked Gayness” – The First Issues of Gay News from 1972

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.

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.

First Issue of Gay News

First Issue of Gay News from May

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.

 

Gay News issue 2

2nd Issue of Gay News, June 1972

 

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.
Issue 3 Gay News

Issue 3, July 1972

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,
LONDON W.2.

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.

Yours sincerely,

H.A. Baron
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.

 

issue 4 Gay News

Issue 4, published 1st August 1972

Ads for accommodation 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.
Issue 5 Gay News

Issue 5, published 14th August 1972

Fourteen –
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.

Fifteen –
I joined the army today.
I’ve grown up now, you see.
Yes.
I’m old enough to kill…
or to be killed.
And yet…
I am not old enough to choose the way I love.

Eighteen –
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.
But still…
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

 

Drag

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.

WINDSOR CASTLE
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.

THE ALEXANDRA
Alexandra Road, St.John.s Wood, NW8
Wednesday’s Mr Angel. Friday’s Derek Rees.

 

Issue 6 Gay News

Issue 6, published by September 1st 1972

Readers letter:

WARNING
Brixton Hill
London

Dear Gay News,

Piggery alas at yet another cottage. On August 16 at Strawberry Vale cottage, Finchley, on the North Circular Road near the A 1000 intersection. I arrived to find a cute looking fuzz in fetchingly butch mufti – leather jacket and lovely black hair and moustache – taking down the particulars of several gay brothers whilst a colleague with an alsation dog looked on.

In early May the same cottage was invaded by-two Security Express guards, again complete with alsations. Whether the London Borough of Barnet had hired them for this purpose or they decided just to have a little go at any fucking poufs they might find whilst passing I can’t say, but clearly this is a terrifying precedent.

Love and strength, Jim Scott
Upper Richmond Road,
Putney Sw15

 

Discos

KINGS ARMS. Liverpool Street, London.
(corner of Pinder Street) Tube/BR Liverpool Street.
Dicks Inn, Gay Disco every Monday
Compere Tricky Dicky.

THE ARABIAN. Cambridge Heath Road, London. (corner of Bishops Way) Tube Bethnal Green/Bus 277. Dicks Inn, Gay Disco – closed for the Summer. Re-opens early October.

KINGS ARMS, Liverpool Street, London.
(corner of Pindar Street)
Tube/BR Liverpool Street. Buses 8,8A,22,6, 47,97.
Tricky Dicky Show on Saturday Nights. 8.30-11 00. Admission Free. Saloon Bar Disco. Impersonations etc. Gay Atmosphere.
Gay News is on sale at all Tricky Dicky Disco’s.

Sussex G.L.F. Disco every Friday 8-11pm at Stanford Arms, Preston Circus. Brighton. Only 15p.

Gay Disco in . THE CRYPT. ST MATTHEWS CHURCH, (opposite Town Hall). BRIXTON Sept 18th & 25th & hopefully every Monday. BR/Tube – Brixton Buses 35. 37, 109. 59, 2. 3. 26. Admission 15p – Beer and Sandwich Bar.
LOVE -KISSES-SOUTH LONDON GLF.

DRAG MOBILE DISCOTEQUE
Tuesday Nights – ROYAL OAK, 62 Glenthorne Road, London W6.
Wednesday Nights – THE PONTEFRACT CASTLE 48 Chapel Street, Edgware Road Tube.
Dancing Permitted, complete with Drag Show featuring Mr.Jean Fredericks, Peter Martindale & Diamond David.

Weekly GLF Disco starting shortly at BULL & GATE pub. Kentish Town. Phone GLF Office at 01-837 7174 to check details.

THE FATHER RED CAP Boys Only, Girls Only, and Mixed Disco’s.
Gay News is always on sale at the Father Red Cap (upstairs disco).

 

Issue 7

Readers letter:

Hypocrisy

West Kensington.

Dear GN,

How about dropping the only bit of hypocrisy that I can find in your otherwise super paper? I mean that silly bit about taking no ads with any form of racial prejudice … are you scared of the Race Relations Board, at a time when you’re obviously not scared of anyone else? Since your ads are mostly blatantly discriminatory — ‘no effeminates’, ‘early mid-twenties’, ‘slim, non-kinky’, “attractive literate preferred’, etc.— what would be wrong with a stated deisre for a ‘hairy homo Hindu’ or sorqe^uch?

Love and peace.

Fair (greying)., Fat and Forty (+)

ED. We are neither scared or beholden to the Race Relations Board. Racial prejudice of the type we refuse to print, and hopefully discourage through our paragraph at the end of the personal ads, is something that is odious and uncivilised, and we believe it to be very different matter to the forms of preference/discrimination found in that column.

We realise that this may be a point of controversy amongst our readers and we welcome any further correspondence on the matter. Particularly, we would welcome comment from our black brothers and sisters.

 

Issue 8

An angry reader wrote to Time Out (London’s weekly entertainment guide) complaining that while viewing ‘Dulcima’ and ‘Family Life’ at the Biograph cinema in Wilton Road, Victoria, no less than eight different men sat next to him, and there was a constant stream of visitors to the toilet. All this coming and going caused such a disturbance that he had to ask for the soundtrack volume to be turned up. He knows, he says, of the cinema’s reputation, but those who don’t “are in for a bit of a shock”. He’s willing to help establish a gay cinema, on the lines of those in New York, as the “goings on” in the Biography will not help the straight world accept gays.

The Biograph, London’s oldest cinema, is well known among gays as a trolling place and sexual outlet; a great deal of mutual masturbation allegedly goes on in the cinema.

But it is not a gay cinema as such, since its usually good programmes are advertised continuously in the London evening papers, “Time Out” etc, and because most heterosexuals are embarrassed by public sexual display and presumably want to watch a film, without having to get up every few seconds to let someone else pass, a visit to the Biograph is obviously going to heighten any anger or misgivings they might have about homosexuals.

However, many gays who go to the Biograph, cannot for one reason or another, take their pick-ups home, and even if they can, where else is there to procure a sexual partner? Basically, in police entrapped lavatories or Earls Court pubs, and while peoples’ behaviour in pubs and clubs is more “acceptable”, they are not necessarily happy places.

The Biograph has a lower admission price (25p) than any cinema in London, and is always crowded, because of its “reputation”, without which it would probably have closed years ago. It exists because society refuses to accept homosexuals on the same terms as heterosexuals, who broadly speaking, can take boy/girl friends home and can kiss and cuddle in any public place. Homosexuals are forced into dark ghettos like the Biograph, which reinforces the idea in our minds that we are second class citizens and must hide our sexuality away, in between the occasional hurried experiences in the dark.

The creation of a completely gay cinema would not really change attitudes for the better on either side, but as in the gay saunas in Amsterdam, it would mean that we could troll undisturbed and without harrass-ment; but we would just be creating another ghetto. Straights will not have the chance to accept or reject us, because they will be more oblivious of our existence.

Whatever we do to improve our situation, whether it involves the creation of a gay cinema, or organisations such as CHE or GLF, it seems to perpetuate our separation and lack of contact with society at large, which would seem to demand, as a condition of acceptance, that we live their life style. In other words retire monogamously to the suburbs, and hide our sexuality behind the net curtains.

Gay News

Issue 9

HOUSTON, TEXAS: America’s first fully-legal gay marriage was performed by a minister of Troy Perry’s Metropolitan Community Church (see GN8) and it was something of an occasion because even London’s Evening Standard noticed it had happened and published a picture.

The Rev Richard Vincent, pastor of the MCC church in Dallas performed the ceremony for ex-high-school-football star Antonio Molina and William Ert, at the Harmony Chapel in Houston.

Antonio comes from Brownsville, Texas and William is a female impersonator who’s working Houston currently.

The two exchanged marriage vows and told the press that theirs was the first legal gay marriage in the USA.

After they’d exchanged rings and said: “with this ring I thee wed”, William lifted his white wedding veil above his face and they kissed.

Neither plans to have a sex change operation they told pressmen.

William, who wore white and a blonde wig for the wedding, said: “Why should I have anything removed or added when he’s marrying me for what I’ve got.

“I’m just like I was when my mother brought me into this world, and I don’t intend to change.”

 

Issue 10

STAFFORD: The Crown Court here has not yet heard the case of four men charged under the 1956 Sexual Offences Act.

The men were due to appear at Stafford Crown Court in the week beginning September 18, but the court delayed the case until this month or next.

On September 10 – slightly more than a month after the men were first arrested — the one facing most charges was re-arrested at his home. He was said to have been found in the company of a 19-year-old boy, but they were not having sex – the police admit.

The next day his co-defendant – also facing charges of buggery and attempted buggery – was allegedly found with a 14-year-old boy.

He, too, was arrested.

Both defendants were remanded in custody again.

Altogether the four men face 14 charges under the Act.

 

Issue 11

TAKIN’ YOU THERE – Various Artists – Stax 2369008

Without a doubt the Stax Takin’ You There sampler is the best soul compilation album to come out this year. And priced as it is at 99p, it is also the best value.

Amongst the hit soul cuts included are Isaac Hayes Shaft, Frederick Knight’s I’ve Been Lonely For So Long, Jean Knight’s biggie from earlier this year, Mr Big Stuff, and the recent chart-buster In The Rain by The Dramatics. Other standouts are Rufus Thomas’s Funky Penguin. The Sould Children’s chart success Hearsay, the most underrated soul track of the year, I’ll Take You There by the Staple Singers and a funky reggae cut from William Bell titled Lonely For Your Love.

Of the other tracks Booker T & The MG’s Melting Pot, which opens side one, is guaranteed to get your feet tapping, if not dancing. Love Means by Carla Thomas is another great song, that should have received more attention than it did.

In all there are twelve excellent slices of contemporary soul. And at such a low selling price it is a must for collectors of good pop music and for the parties that’ll be happening in December and the New Year.

 

Issue 12

Personal Ads:

Shy lonely gay guy 22, seeks companion for friendship, same age group. (Northumberland Durham area) Box 594.

Muscular, well-endowed guy (33) give and take, would like to meet real hairy guys 25-40, Manchester-Cheshire area. Transport would help, gorillas welcome. Box 593.

Slim guy, 40, wants to meet boys interested in leather. Ex-bike owner. No freaks. Box 592.

Semi-retired bachelor, very fit, CHE member would like to join genuine active man for Xmas as P.G. Box 591.

Col – Please contact Brian who also has disability problem. Box 589

Bike owning leather guy seeks similar companions. Somerset area. Box 590.

Young strong active soccer player 23, urgently needs used football shorts and gear. Also strict trainer. Box 582.

Healthy lanky guy, 29, with own London accommodation seeks uninhibited slim hirsute type interested in leather etc. Immediate answer with phone no. to reply including photo for exchange. Box 581.

Young man, London, hoping to buy country retreat during next year wishes contact other(s) interested country weekends and willing drive reasonable distance. Box 580.

 

Issue 13

LONDON: Sources at the BBC say that censorship at the Corporation is reaching insane proportions. They are either worried about the renewal of their Charter in 1976 — or there is interference, from some person or persons nominally designated as “Someone Higher-Up”.

Apart from the Wilde sketch from a programme of series three of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, other things to be censored include part of a song in which a character sings: “I’m getting pissed tonight”, whereas, in the same episode the words ‘piss off’ were allowed to be broadcast. It seems that you’re strictly limited to the number of ‘pisses’ in one show.

A competition in which contestants were given 12 seconds to summarise all the volumes of A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu, one contestant claimed that his own hobbies were golf, strangling animals and masturbation, after which the MC remarked he must have let himself down a bit on the hobbies there – “golf isn’t very popular round here”. This, too, was banned. Apparently you are not allowed to say the word ‘masturbation’ on comedy shows, although it would be permissible on the news, in ‘serious drama’, or documentary.

A rather childish and commendably ‘silly’ sketch in which a wine taster was being asked to give his expert opinion on various vintages of ‘wee-wee’ was hacked out of the show completely on the grounds that the second wine appeared to be rosé. (The BBC bosses, knowing very little about ‘medical matters’ assumed, without any reason, that this was intended to be ‘menstrual urine’!)

A thought that never occurred to the writer or the cast and in all probability would never have occurred to the general public!

Their only logical complaint could have been that the so-called rosé came from someone suffering from a disease of the urinary tract or who’d been eating a lot of beetroot. Menstrual Urine! Who’s getting paranoiac.

Any further example of this kind of censorship will, of course, be passed on to this important newspaper. The above article has absolutely nothing to do with Graham Chapman, who wishes to remain anonymous.

 

These issues of Gay News can be viewed in their entirety at the Gay News Archive Project