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Not welcome in What's On guide


In June 1976 GLF Birmingham requested the GLF Disco be included as a listings in the councils publication ‘What’s On’. This was refused and a letter writing campaign was begun for inclusion, eventually they were successful after the intervention of Labour councillor Theresa Stewart, later to become council leader.

Below is the correspondence between GLf and the council.


Dear Sir,

I have noticed with surprise that the ‘What’s On’ guide contains no information for gays (homosexual men and women). This is a serious omission considering that many thousand gay people live in and around Birmingham. To rectify this situation, I submit an item for inclusion in the ‘Jazz, Pop and Folk’ section of the 12 to 25 July issue. It reads as follows….

Ken Jones


Dear Mr Jones
Thank you for your letter to What's on in Birmingham of 21 June 1976. What's on in Birmingham lists only events which are open to the general public at large and does not include events which are exclusive to certain sections of the community only.
For this reason, we will not be giving details of the Gay Lib Disco', which you submitted.

Yours sincerely
Chief Publicity Officer

Mr. W. Green


Dear Mr. Green

Thank you for your letter of 24 June regarding my submission to the ‘What’s On’ guide. I previously omitted to point out that GLF Discos are indeed open to the general public and are not, as you naturally assumed, exclusive. I therefore resubmit the item for the July edition of the ‘What’s On’ guide. It reads as follows….

Ken Jones


Dear Mr Jones

Thank you for your letter of 5 July. I feel I must repeat my original view that I consider the Gay Lib Discos to be functions which are primarily intended for one particular group and for this reason we feel that we ought not to include them in our What's on publication. This is a policy which is adopted vis–a–vis many organisations such as political parties and has occasioned similar conversations in the past. Believe me we are not singling you out for any restrictive treatment.

There is a very great problem with What's on that since this is a publicly provided publication we have to be very careful with the costs which we incur. This being so, we do try and restrict all inserts to those which have a non–limited appeal.

I do hope this meets the points you raise which are very legitimate ones. If you would like to come in and meet me to talk about this matter to seek further clarification I would, of course, be delighted to explain things in the fullest detail.

Yours sincerely
Chief Publicity Officer

Mr. W. Green


The following letter was written after a meeting with Mr. Green on 4 August (c1976). In the meeting he repeated his original grounds for refusing the entry. I questioned whether these grounds were in any case being applied, and added that gay people suffer particularly from just this sort of censorship. He was unwilling/unable to answer these points, but asked that we wrote down our response to his refusal in a latter and he would reply in his official capacity and as instructed. He implied that he was not acting of his own accord and would have to receive advice from his superiors, whoever they are. Malcolm (Gibb)

Dear Mr. Green,
We are writing to you, as you requested, on the matter of the inclusion of an entry for the Gay Discos in 'What's on in Birmingham'.
Before we outline our position may we re-emphasise what Mr. Gibb said in his meeting with you of Monday last, in order that you understand why we regard this matter as so important.

In the West Midlands area there are - at a conservative estimate -100,000 homosexual men and women. As a direct result of ignorance, hostility and prejudice many, if not most, of these people are isolated and lonely. In trying to reach them - to meet their various needs - gay organisations are consistently hampered by what is in effect of form of censorship. While we expect to be denied publicity by the commercial press, such a practice is wholly out of keeping with the responsibilities of media financed from public funds. Gay people, as rate-payers, support many services of which they make minimal demands (e.g. education).gay groups, in undertaking work which might properly be regarded as the responsibility of local authorities, expect and ought to receive at least minimal support for their efforts. It is against this background that we are surprised and saddened by your response.

Now, if we may, we will deal with your specific reasons for refusing our entry in 'What's on in Birmingham'.

Your first ground for refusal, in your letter to Mr. Jones of 24th. June, was that your publication "...lists lists only events which are open to the general public at large". Mr. Jones and 1 have now assured you that the Gay Discos are open events, and we take it this objection no longer stands. We would only point out that you do in fact list events which by this criterion ought to be excluded - e.g. 'Impact' disco.

Your second reason, in your letters to Mr. Jones of 24th. June and 13th. July and repeated to Mr. Gibb on Monday, is that you only include events which have a "non-limited appeal". On this basis, you say you exclude events "intended for one particular group".

It seems clear to us that if you were in fact applying this criterion your publication would be all but empty. To begin with the absurd, the meeting of the Cactus and Succulent Society (even with talk by Mr. H Moreton) can hardly be imagined to have more than severely limited appeal. Likewise, the Birmingham Esperanto Club, the Birmingham and Midland Orchid Society etc. etc. Further, in one issue alone you list nine events for jazz enthusiasts. Jazz is a special musical interest and its followers are certainly fewer in number than the gay people for which our one entry would be intended.

More importantly, perhaps, you include a whole page advertising commercial night clubs. These, as you must know, are intended for people who are heterosexual. They are places where gay people neither feel comfortable nor are made welcome. They are clearly "intended for one particular group".

For the reasons given above we are unable to accept your refusal to include the entry we submitted. We find ourselves being excluded on grounds which would clearly disqualify much of what you at present include if those grounds were applied without discrimination. We are reluctant to conclude that a publicly financed service operates such a double-standard against a section of the public already denied many of its civil rights. We hope you will not force us to such a conclusion.

We await your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Ken Jones.
Malcolm Gibb.

For Birmingham Gay Liberation Front.


Dear Messrs Jones & Gibb

Thank you for your detailed letter of 4 August and I have noted most seriously the points which you have raised. This matter is now being reassessed in the light of further observations and my meeting with Mr Gibb. I hope to let you have a definite answer as far as the city is concerned within a few days.

Yours sincerely
Chief Publicity Officer

Mr. W. Green


Dear Messrs Jones & Gibb

Further to my letter of 10 August, I write to inform you that I have been instructed to say that the Gay Lib Discos are not to be advertised in the city's What’s on in Birmingham.

If you are still unhappy at this decision may I suggest that you make your opinions known directly to Councillor Blumenthal Chairman of the General Purposes Committee of the city council, who has an office at the Council House.

Yours sincerely
Chief Publicity Officer

Mr. W. Green


Dear Councillor Blumenthal,

We have been informed by the Chief Publicity Officer, Mr. W. Green, that our submission to the ‘What’s On’ publication has been rejected yet again.

In our detailed letter to him of the 4 August 1976 we explained to Mr. Green why we were unable to accept his original decision to refuse the item. As of yet, we have been offered no satisfactory grounds upon which refusal is based. What explanation we have been offered remains unreasonable and contradictory.

We understand that this matter is now in your hands, and we would appreciate an explanation of your refusal to accept the item we submitted.

We look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Yours Sincerely

Malcolm Gibb


Dear Councillor Blumenthal,

We are sorry to note that you have not replied to our letter of the 2nd. September 1976, in which we requested an explanation of your committee's refusal of our entry for the publication 'What's On in Birmingham'.

We would like to emphasise yet again the importance we attach to this matter and look forward to a reply to our original letter to you within the next seven days.

Yours sincerely

Malcolm Gibb


Dear Mr. Gibb,

Thank you for your letter of the 7 October about the decision of the General Purposes Committee not to include Gay Lib in the council’s publication of ‘What’s On in Birmingham’.

This decision was taken after very careful consideration and the committee have reaffirmed their previous decision.

Yours Sincerely

Councillor H.C. Blumenthal
Chairman: General Purposes Committee


Dear Mrs. Stewart,

We are writing to you on the recommendation of Prank Langham, a fellow member of the Birmingham Gay Liberation Front, in the hope that you can advise us on our attempt to have an item published in the "What's On In Birmingham" guide. The item, 'Gay Lib Disco', was originally submitted on 21st June 1976. It was rejected. Thus began mulch fruitless correspondence between ourselves & Mr. W Green - Chief Publicity Officer, and Councillor H. C. Blumenthal - Chairman of the General Purpose Committee 'We enclose copies of the correspondence for your information. In his letter of 22nd October, Councillor Blumenthal states that "...the decision of the General Purposes Committee ... was taken after very careful consideration..."

This is hardly sufficient explanation, and we would naturally like to see the minutes of that meeting. Can you tell us how that would be possible, and also how we might elicit a more satisfactory replay to our previous letters from the General Purposes committee.

All we are seeking is a clear and simple statement of the reasons for the rejection. Without such a statement, we can only assumed that there are no valid reasons, in which case the Birmingham City Council, effectively, is blatantly discriminating against the many thousands of gay people in and around Birmingham for whom our ad would be primarily intended.

We feel very strongly about this matter and would appreciate any advice you can Live us.

Yours sincerely,

Ken Jones.
Malcolm Gibb.


Dear Mr Jones and Mr Gibb,

I went in to the Council House today to check out your story. It's untrue! There was no decision of General Purposes Committee, because the matter never went to General Purposes Committee. It seems to have been decided by Mr Green, Mr Sidall( a retired officer of the council who has been brought back as a 'consultant' at a very high fee) and Mr Blumenthal.

When I found this out from the General Purposes Cttee clerk, Mr Unsworth, I rang Blumenthal. I didn't have a show down with him, as I suspect he did not actually write the letter in your possession. I just asked him about it - he said,'Oh, yes - I don't mind either way - I just thought -er people suggested it would be putting the official stamp on - er- it is what I think it is? We'd better put it to the General Purposes Committee - tell them to put it on the next agenda - I think I put it to my group - lets have it decided by G.P.'

So - it goes to the next G.P.Cttee, Wed, 15th December, at 2.30 p.m. - the meeting is open to the public, although people attending cannot speak.

Mr Unsworth has now got the papers you sent to me and is preparing report for the committee. He is gay - so it will be positive. Unless there is intervention by someone!

I suggest:

1. You leave the matter of the false statement, for the time being.
2. You prepare a written statement of you request, and approach every member of G.P. (list enclosed)
3. I will speak to Cllr Mrs Marjorie Brown, who leads the Labour Group on General Purposes, telling her the history of the application - and giving her a copy of Blumenthal's letter, for her to use in the debate if necessary.

If you and the Gay Lib group would like to discuss this with me, you had better ring: XXX 1512, before 10.00 am to get a suitable time.

I won't do anything else until I hear from you - I have not got the copies of the correspondence, as I gave them to Mr Unsworth. If you let me have Blumenthal's last letter, I could photocopy it.


Cllr Mrs Stewart


Dear Mr. Green,

As you are no doubt aware, our submission of an entry for the Gay Discos in 'What's On in Birmingham' is to be considered at the next General Purposes Committee meeting on the 15th of this month. For your information, and to assist the committee in its discussion, we would like to emphasise our reasons for regarding this matter in a serious light.

In the West Midlands area there are - at a conservative estimate - 100,000 homosexual women and men. As a direct result of ignorance, hostility and prejudice many - if not most - of these people are isolated and lonely. They rarely, if ever, mix in the company of other homosexuals. Places where gay people can meet each other are few and far between, and are not widely publicised. The many commercial 'night-clubs' in the City cater for the heterosexual population, and then are places where gay people neither feel comfortable nor are made welcome. Those gay clubs which do exist confine their advertising to the homosexual press and thereby fail to reach those gays who have no contact with the homosexual community. The same is true of those pubs where gay people gather - they are not widely-known and like the clubs, their interest is more in profit than in the welfare of their customers.

The 'Gay Discos' represent an attempt to provide the gay population of this City with an alternative non-profit making and more accessible social occasion on which to meet each other. While we expect to be denied publicity by the commercial press - for a variety of motives - we would not expect to meet such discrimination in Council publications which are financed from public funds.
We would therefore be most grateful if you would included the following item in the 24th Jan - 6th Feb issue of 'What's On':

29th Jan. & 5th Feb
Gay Disco. 'The Black Horse', Ashted Row, Aston.
8pm Admission 15p.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely,
Ken Jones & Malcolm Gibb for Birmingham Gay Liberation Front
c.c Members of the General Purposes Committee.


Dear Messrs. Jones and Gibb,

Thank you for your letter of 11 December. As you know this whole question was considered at the General Purposes Committee meeting on 15 December and it was agreed that the Gay Discos should be included.

This will, of course, be done for future events. Please let us have details as and when appropriate.

May I thank you for the consistently courteous tone in which you have addressed me throughout our correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

(W. Green)
Chief Publicity Officer

Contributed by: Malcolm Gibb, 58

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