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Second City Gays Anthology


Second City Gays (unpublished anthology)

This unpublished, draft, anthology is compiled from published articles in Birmingham Gay Liberation Front Newsheet and Gladrag from around 1971 – 1975. These represent an overview of GLF politics and aspirations in the early seventies.

Second City Gays


Birmingham Gay Liberation Front arose from within the local Campaign for Homosexual Equality group in mid-1971. Several of us felt that, whilst a lot of what CHE did was valuable, it was not going far enough. We felt that the problems gay people faced were fundamental to the way society operated and not just
a form of persecution that could be done away with, within existing social frameworks. For us, CHE was not sufficiently active, militant and open.

After a few preliminary discussions we decided to hold a public meeting at 'The Peace Centre' - an alternative bookshop. We had openly appeared on a BBC Midland television programme 'Contact' (while other gay people were shown in shadow), and we gave out leaflets at the gay pubs and clubs asking people to come along to a discussion of the programme. About sixty people crowded into the Peace Centre. And from that point on the group flourished, forming sub-groups on education and entertainments and arranging leafleting, discussions etc. At first we called ourselves 'The Gay Action Group' because we felt that we couldn't fully identify with London GLF. However, in time we realised that our ideas were not so different and we had more in common than we first thought: we became Birmingham GLF. But we were very concerned to be based on the town, rather than the local universities (like so many GLF groups are), and this has remained the emphasis.

Our early activities included leafleting gay pubs and clubs about issues of gay oppression. To our then surprise, people in the clubs were extremely hostile to us - they felt we were 'rocking the boat', or that, since they had clubs to go to, how could anyone say that we were oppressed? We were often pretty sweeping in our condemnation of the clubs (including on a programme we did for Radio Birmingham), and the terms 'ghetto' and 'straight gay' arose from somewhere and have stuck in the jargon of GLF.

The first newsletter was written to coincide with a 'Gay Pride Week-end' about nine months after the first meeting of the group. It was a wet cold week-end; there was a disco and demonstrations in the Bull Ring and Cannon Hill Park; the demonstration consisted of giving kids an orange and a balloon and their parents a leaflet. By this time the short-lived 'Radical Queen' movement had hit us, and there were several unshaven men wandering about in frocks - perhaps one of the most challenging images in the history of GLF.

An important moment in the group's history was the discussion over whether or not GLF should support a march to protest against the killings in Northern Ireland - the events of 'Bloody Sunday'. The connections between gay politics and other sorts of politics were severely contested, and the split between those who saw GLF purely in terms of life-style and those who saw it purely in terms of militant socialist politics became clear. The one led to an emphasis on political drag, the use of drugs, communes, and consciousness-raising groups; the other to links with trade unions and left groups, leafleting, demonstrations, education work and so on. The split tended to raise passions, and whether or not it was the cause, it marked the beginning of a considerable decline in GLF around mid-1973.

In the new Birmingham GLF that has emerged during the past year there seems to be an increasing awareness that life-style and socialist politics are deeply interconnected and interdependent: it seems to be a more modest and viable movement.
All the articles collected here are taken from past issues of our newsletter (now called Gladrag'). The newsletter has appeared every few months since GLF began in Birmingham, and now sells widely both on and off the gay scene.

From the many available we have tried to select articles that are both interesting in themselves and which deal with subjects that have been - or still are - much discussed within the gay movement. Some will certainly read very differently today from when they first appeared. Ideas that at the time seemed to point the way forward, turn out to have been interesting, if not important, excursions. Controversies and crises come and go.

These articles then, reflect moments in both the personal development of the authors and the political development of the movement for gay liberation in Birmingham in the early 1970's. What we hope emerges throughout is the sense of excitement, argument and exploration that is gay liberation.


A few weeks ago GLF relieved an invitation to go to Coleshil Comprehensive School, where a sex education programmed had been arranged to cover the whole day. Although in the past we've visited colleges, we've never been successful in getting into schools so the fact that we were invited was a surprise on two counts. One, the fact itself, and two, that someone had eventually seen that sex education was not complete if it didn't involve homosexuality. The talk lasting the whole day narrowed down the amount of people in GLF who could go, and eventually there was Nick, Ray, Adrian, Graham and me.

When we got to the school we were shown to the staff room, and were politely ignored by everyone other than the chap who had arranged the whole thing. The latter told us he had encountered opposition from the other teachers when he wanted to invite us, and I gather the usual snide commends were made to him. To his credit, he had not allowed this to change his mind, and spent quite a lot of time with us, later having lunch with us as well.

The first part of the day was given over to Mrs Went from the FPA who, considering that she had to talk for half an hour longer than expected due to a film not turning up, did rather well on the whole. Her attempts to make the pupils (and herself) more at ease, by making naughty jokes, was spoiled by her rather condescending attitude. The things she talked about were, to us, old hat, and although the talk wasn't for our benefit, I've a feeling it was a bit old hat to the thirteen year olds as well. She came out with all the hair-raising ideas about how wonderful it was that boys just happened naturally to grow up into swearing, football-playing stags, who occasionally pandered to women's natural vanity by screwing them. And how good this situation was. Then she went on to tell the girls how they should look forward to 'growing up' into brainless, simpering idiots, who could never hope to compete with men, because "men develop bigger muscles". Women's Libists, she said, are defeated before they start, because men are naturally physically stronger so, of course, are superior in every way. She did dress these ideas up a bit and made them seem almost desirable, but the general ideas still came over very strong.

Then we had a quick break during which we stood cupping cigarettes in our hands hoping, for some reason, that no-one would notice. Such is the atmosphere that schools generate that I did actually feel guilty snatching that cigarette. We had a chance to talk about what we'd just heard and found that we'd nearly all fallen off our chairs at exactly the same points, so that must mean something.

Back in the classroom, we were treated to a film on lesbians (I deliberately don't use gay girls). This film must be one of the oldest in circulation, and makes the case that female homosexuality is depressing, frustrating, unnatural, and generally a bit hopeless. These films do give you something to argue against, but it's about time we had a film showing what being gay can be like rather than searching out maladjusted, ageing individuals and framing the questions so that the answers have to make the interviewees seem even more anti-gay than they probably are.

After the film Nick opened the talk on gayness. He deliberately sat on the desk rather than pacing back and forth behind it, as the previous speaker had done, and I think most people saw the point in doing this. Nick neatly countered all of the most outrageous points made by Mrs Went and the film and then suggested a question and answer time. This was a bit slow starting as we expected but in fact quite a few asked questions and the general atmosphere seemed fairly casual and interesting.

After lunch, on which I will not dwell, more than to say that school meals seem actually to have deteriorated in the years (?) since I was at school, the pupils were able to attend whichever classroom they preferred ranging over sex/marriage, V.D., homosexuality, etc, and Graham and myself found ourselves with Mrs Went and about twenty pupils. I gather that Ray, Nick and Adrian were in similar situations. We found that the pupils were quite serious and very interested., Mrs Went doggedly dragged the conversation to boy/girl relationships and the horrors of V.D. We equally determined, dragged it straight back to the horrors of boy/girl relationships and the horrors of present attitudes to V.D. Quite fun really.

There were a few more moments of high excitement, like a film on V.D. which was rushed through at a speed of knots, for some reason which I've forgotten, but not all the events have stayed with me in the right order. My general impression is that all the kids we talked to had a more sensible attitude to sexual matters than the adults did which is encouraging, on one level, but rather depressing when we face the reality that in all probability most of them will end up like their teachers, unless we can do a lot more to prevent it.

Jan '73.

Editor's Note: Some six weeks after the above report appeared in our newsletter we received a phone call from a reporter from the 'Birmingham Evening Mail'. He wanted more information about what had happened. We explained that we had been part of a whole days conference on sex, that the pupils had seemed interested in what we had to say and we had enjoyed going.

The following day he rang again and it became obvious that the 'Evening Mail' was determined to create a sensational story out of our visit. The next day, the 'Evening Mail' carried the front page story 'SCHOOL ROW OVER "GAY LIB" TALK TO PUPILS'. It should be noted that the newspaper 'created' the story by ringing the secretary of the school's Parent Teacher Association in the first place. Reports then started to appear in


A few months ago my parents asked me if I was a homosexual. Up until this time when either of them had approached the subject, I had laughed in their faces and changed the conversation rather rapidly. However, on this occasion, my mother had almost forcibly entered my bedroom where I was in the process of putting on make-up. I managed to remove the make-up before she 'broke in' and insisted that I had merely been changing my clothes. I eventually joined my parents and what followed was an animated and rather unpleasant argument, my father asking me outright, "Are you a homosexual?" At that moment I realised that if I was ever going to improve my relationship with my parents, they would have to know the truth. So I told them

Their first reaction was pretty horrible (tears and threats included). My mother ordered me to see my doctor - I refused. After another heated and tearful discussion they explained that they would try to understand.

Everything was fine until one Sunday evening when I returned from spending a weekend with a friend. This time my mother quietly left the room pretending that she had something important to attend to, and left me with my father, who 'took me aside' and began questioning me:
"Have you had intercourse with a man?"
"What do you do when you have sex with a man?"
"Have you ever had intercourse with any of your girlfriends?"
"What do you find attractive about men?"
I answered mainly truthfully and eventually broke down and told him that I would leave home as soon as possible. He told me that he didn't want me to go as he had reason to believe that mixing with homosexuals would be most unhealthy for me. He had come across some while he was in the Army and they had been transferred to a mental institution. I listened but did not digest.

Since then various conversations have led me to understand that they are hoping that they will change and settle down with one of my ex-girlfriends. To be honest I don't think that they want to accept that one of their sons might be different from the rest of the family. In fact, I don't think that they believe me anymore.

Have I got to lead two separate lives, and by doing this am I denying them any hope of ever understanding me?
Little Les
Nov '72.


It seems that whenever a gay person, particularly a member of GLF becomes the slightest bit heated or emotional about a particular topic he is immediately condemned as being aggressive.

The original purpose, as I remember it, of GLF, was to alter the position of homosexuals in society. At the first few meetings in Birmingham at least, there were lots of angry people who were well and truely pissed off with being sneered at, treated as some sort of inferior being, scared to death of being seen and recognized as 'queer', scared of losing their job, scared of losing the affection and respect of their families and of 'friends who didn't know'. They were angry, and justifiably so, because all of these were real, valid fears. There are many, many examples of people who have suffered most, if not all, of these indignities, and not only were they upset and angry, but the new friends they made in the GLF group shared their anger.

Out of this might have been born the militancy that might have led to real changes being made. And then, Lo and Behold, along came a different ideology. Along came the people who told us just how lucky we were after all. Pointed out how fortunate we were to have people with whom we could sit and air our grievances. And so we sat. And still are sitting. Suddenly all the anger dies and everyone remembers they have a job to do and money to earn, so that it seems all we are left with is a group who sit around, rattling and camping about, and in a totally artificial way, loving each other. Perhaps this isn't all that bad, but how does it alter things from what they always were? Where on earth did all the gay pride disappear to? Where is all the solidarity that we intended to build so that we could develop the confidence to move on? What little there was, has been stifled by pretentious, highly articulate hot air.

Because the people who might have been confident to start something like the Radical Feminist movement, have been systematically put down, over and over again, for being aggressive even those worthwhile groups have begun to fall off. The pity is that they are not falling off because the idea was bad, and logical reasoning has shown up the flaws. It is because some people, who are so terrified of anyone who might attract attention to the group, which might not be seen as genteel or suitably cultured, are often in a position to impress others with their more articulate, 'educated' arguments against them.

Of course they are afraid, they have good reason to be. But this is the very fear we set out to fight. It was this which made us determined to have the courage of our convictions and to come out and meet the oppression face to face. Their arguments are not based on logic, they are based on fear. It is a fact that not only are some people afraid of the aggression that might make them known as homosexuals, they are, in fact, afraid of aggression because it goes against their up-bringing anyway. No-one should criticise for that alone, however infuriating it is, but this element must see that this inherent fear is oppressive and destructive. Let them adjust themselves to the new ideology first before they stifle the anger that others felt to bring them along to the meetings in the first place. We hear all the time that we are not doing anything. This often comes from people who are new to the groups and they are told in no uncertain terms, that we are in fact doing a great deal. That we are going along to universities and colleges to have a moan (and that's all it amounts to, whether any good comes out of it or not that's really all that it amounts to) but, of course, that is simply not what these people mean by 'doing anything'. They are referring to the fact that no-one seems to do anything which tells the straights that we are not blissfully content with being under the carpet anymore, in a straightforward way. It would be really something, wouldn't it, to have a recording of those early meetings in Birmingham and to hear again the individuals who were always saying how we were going to show the straights that we were not happy, that we were not prepared to accept the tolerance they were prepared to show by letting us meet in a few tatty clubs, and letting us fuck only when they say, and where they say, and with whom they tell us to. Those people who said that are the very ones who chickened out at the first hint that GLF might have started to stir up something, and they are the ones who are telling us now that aggression is quite revolting and really not quite the thing.

We must not allow ourselves to become complacent. We must remember that although we can sit around with our steady boyfriends and girl-friends, that there are still exactly the same amount of poor sods who are sitting around on their own, afraid to open their mouths. We must also remember that when we set ourselves up as an organisation to alter the position of gay people in society, that we take on an obligation. We should have something to tell people when they come along to see what we are doing about their miserable circumstances, something that will let them see we are not just another bunch of screaming queens, and that if that is all we are, that we are screaming loud enough for people to hear beyond the walls of the Peace Centre. It really is 'stand up and be counted time'. That fist you are all wearing on your badges is beginning to look decidedly limp.

Nov '72.


After a G.L.F. Education Group meeting recently we had a long talk about fucking, both our ideas about it and other people's. As we were all gay men we confined our talk to gay men. It went like this:

The discussion started because we feel that a lot of people in G.L.F. are very critical of fucking for a lot of reasons. The main criticism seems to be that fucking created sexual roles (active/passive) which are parallel to stereotyped heterosexual relationships. Another criticism is that fucking is looked on
as the 'ultimate' in sexual experience, and people are therefore pressurized to fuck or be fucked, even when they might prefer other forms of sexual expression. This pressure is reinforced by the general idea most straight people have that fucking or being fucked is what all gay people do. Alongside these criticisms is the idea that an insistence on orgasm as the necessary climax of all sex really limits peoples sexual enjoyment.

In G.L.F. we've spent a lot of time talking about roles but we still seem unclear as to quite what we mean and sometimes why we are so critical. Do sexual acts all necessarily involve role playing. If one man fucks and another man is fucked does that mean that one is active/masculine and the other passive/feminine? For instance, if the man being fucked sits on top of the man fucking him who is active, who is passive? To see the physical act of being fucked or fucking as necessarily involving one man playing an oppressed, 'unliberated woman', role; and the other playing the dominating male chauvinistic, role is to over—simplify gay relationships. If to liberate ourselves, we decide to drop fucking, might there then arise the question of who sucks first? Whilst we need to be aware of how oppressive role playing can be, we also need to be careful in connecting particular acts with particular roles.

Gays who are critical of fucking also seem to prefer other sexual activities because they are further away from straight sex (represented by the man fucking the woman) and therefore further away from role playing and oppressed sexuality. We feel that to judge how liberated our sexual activity is by how far removed it is from straight sexual activity opens the door to an easy gay chauvinism. What we want to say is that it is good for gays to explore all forms of sexual pleasure without being at all limited by what straight people do or do not do. This is the real gay freedom. But when gays involved in that exploration stop at a certain point in their development, and then put forward their own particular form of sexual activity as being 'the most liberated' form of sex around, this is bad. Firstly, because it replaces one hierarchy of roles by another (e.g. sucking replaces fucking). Secondly, because rather than making your own experience available to other people it imposes your own experience as a limit on other people. This is really a new form of sexual puritanism.

We are all beginning to understand what a complicated process sexual liberation is. It is clear that lots of gays who don't want to fuck feel pressurized to do so, (either by what straight people expect of them, or what their sexual partners demand of them), just as lots of gays who don't want to play 'feminine' or 'masculine' roles feel pressurized to become one or the other. We want to help ourselves and each other to find our full sexual identities in the face of all these pressures. But we have to do this in ways that leave all kinds of sexual exploration and enjoyment open to other people, to share our own experience without setting up limitations for other people. For example those gay people who rightly object to the idea that orgasm is what sex is all about, need to be careful not to impose the tyranny of non-orgasm on others.

The centre of our discussion of sexual liberation is the question of our conditioning, both our conditioning as children growing up in families in the straight world and our conditioning on the 'straight gay scene'. How do we decide how far our inability to agree on what is 'the most liberated sex' is due to repressive individual conditioning, and how far is it due to differences in sexual drive and taste? Which is really another way of asking how do we really know who we really are after all the different people others have made us. And perhaps behind these questions is the further question of how we can find the love for each other to share our own sexual discoveries with other people in ways which do not oppress them.

Nick, Trevor, Frank, Karl, Graham.
Nov '72


It took me literally ages to come out. I think that probably my background was the biggest hindrance. When I was sixteen I started to find gay friends and started to think of myself as a "gay person". I suppose up to that age I had had a fairly ordinary experience as gay - I had started having sex when I was ten and had infrequent relationships with other boys until when I was sixteen I decided that I had fallen in love. It was quite exciting and I used to write letters to my friend. Unfortunately one of my letters was intercepted by my mother and shown to my father. That was the start of the dramas.

My father is a doctor and his first reaction to my letter was a professional one. He assured me that I was not a homosexual -"I can tell after all it's my job to spot these things." I (He's a psychiatrist as well). First lesson: never let non gays tell you what being gay is all about. I half believed him. I knew that men turned me on but I believed that I would get through that "stage". I think that I spent the next five years trying to get past that stage. It made me very unhappy, and every sexual experience I did have made me feel incredibly guilty. I was sent to, or volunteered to go to half a dozen or so psychiatrists. They all tried to convince me that I would soon go on to better things. I even tried going out with women. The results were not
a fantastic knock-out. Anyway I eventually got pissed off waiting for the great transformation and slowly started to recover my gay identity. It took a long time, but by the time I was twenty three (yes - what a long time) I think I was coming to understand that gay is good.

One of the last and most important parts of coming out was to tell my parents - it had a double importance for me; firstly as my parents, I felt it important that they should know me as .I really was. Secondly they had told me that I wasn't gay. It was important that I should assert my gay identity and tell them that I was gay and proud of it. Characteristically I told my mother first when I was drunk and out of my little head on librium/mandrax, at the end of a fairly traumatic relationship
I had been having. My mother was a bit alarmed I think - largely, I suspect because she was afraid of that 'horrible world' that I was bound to get sucked into. Second lesson: to accept myself as gay I had to push out of my head all of the hysterical and lurid fantasies that the straight world attributes to gay life. I had a job convincing my mother but over the years she has come to see that gays are not ogres. Her first spoken reaction was to say - "You never know perhaps you'll change". I said that I wouldn't and she's come to accept this. My father was the biggest fear. He'd had a couple of heart attacks just before I had "confessed" to my mother, so I ducked out of telling him for a year. When I did pluck up the courage to tell him I was expecting the most dramatic outburst. Instead he said - "I see. Well if you say that it's good for you, then I suppose it is". End of conversation. Final lesson: if you assert that gay is good, even "enemies" (psychiatrists) can sometimes be convinced, or at least neutralised.
So I finally came out. I think that if I had had the understanding and courage to assert that gay is good when I was sixteen, I might have saved myself a lot of sweat. I don't know of course but I really think that that's really true.

Gay Is Really Good
Nov '72.

SERVICE NO LONGER REQUIRED (Section 164: Lesbianism)

I joined the Womens' Royal Army Corps on February 15th, 1971.
I had hoped to give four or six years service, but because of my nature it was cut down to six months.

Before I went into the Army, I knew I was a lesbian, but it wasn't the thought of meeting girls that made me join. I wanted to have a career. I had no idea at all that the Army was made up of lesbians, nor did I know that according to military law it is a criminal offence to be a lesbian in the Army, and that the S.I.B. (Secret Investigation Branch) will do all in their power to have lesbians kicked out of the service.
While I was at a unit I found out that SIB investigations were taking place. This worried me because I had had affairs with girls before I joined the WRAC and although during these investigations I wasn't having an affair I was worried in case the SIB got hold of me and made things sound dirty, and I would be discharged for being a lesbian.

One really depressing morning I was fed up with people going on about the SIB going into personal handbags, reading letters, stripping beds, all in the hope of finding evidence that the person was gay and so would have to be discharged. Anyway, I thought it would be better to give myself up and just admit I was gay than to give the SIB the satisfaction of crossexamining and going through my personal letters. Nor did I like the idea of being hounded by the SIB for the rest of my service. So up to the company offices I went and gave my confession.

The platoon officer was very understanding and said if it was what I wanted she would put my discharge in, but thought I should go and have the weekend to think about it. So I thought about it all weekend and came to the conclusion that what I really did want was my career, and I told my platoon officer this on the Monday morning. But by this time my discharge application form had gone to the commandant who, I might add, is very anti-gay. I was also told that once the commandant knew I was a lesbian I would definitely be discharged. I explained how much I wanted to stay in the WRAC and asked if it was possible for me to do so. My platoon officer told me she would do all she could to help me. She told me she would appeal for me, and that also my other platoon officer and also the 0.C. would do the same. The platoon officer told me not to worry, and keep my chin up as, things would take a long time before I knew where I stood.

The waiting was hell... I felt as if I was on trial before a judge and jury. During my wait I was sent to a psychiatrist with two other girls who were being discharged for being gay.

We were all waiting to see the psychiatrist and were very nervous as being a military hospital we had no idea what to expect. I was the last to go in so I had the longest wait. When my name was finally called I almost froze on the spot. Anyway, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but I was on edge all through my interview. I asked the psychiatrist what chance I had of staying in the WRAC and he told me that would be up to the WRAC.

When all three of us had had our interviews we had to wait for the clerk to type the reports out. We managed to get the clerk to tell us what the reports said and he told us we would all be back in civvy street within two weeks. As soon as he said that, I wanted to be on my own, and I ran like mad through London not knowing what to do or where I was. However, I did manage to get back to camp.

The following morning I was sent for by my platoon officer and was told I had a 50-50 chance of staying in because my papers were being looked at and were being given great thought. I was also told that a person in high rank was in favour of me staying in the Army.

Anyway, after more weeks of torment and long waiting I was once again sent for and as soon as I saw my officer's pale face I knew why she had sent for me. It was to tell me I could no longer remain in the Army and I would be discharged as soon as my papers came from records.

When my papers did come through I was given only a few hours notice to hand in my uniform and kit back, have a medical, and wait for my papers. I was told to be off the camp by the evening and that I would never be allowed on it again.

A Gay Sister.
Jan '73.


The last two months have seen an increasingly acrimonious controversy over what G.L.F. ought to be doing, and how. It seems to me that this is a very important debate, since it deals indirectly with the basic problem of what G.L.F. is, which ought to be fully discussed.

As I see it, G.L.F. is about two things. Firstly, what might be called changing people. We are attempting to achieve community among gay people, to reach levels of deep intimacy and directness with one another, to be self-expressive, to clean out the guilt and self-hatred imposed upon us. The achievement of some of this, on any occasion, we take to be worthwhile.

Secondly, we seek a radical transformation of the social order. In short, we act politically; because our values cannot be realised without a pretty fundamental alteration of the social system of this country, and of the capitalist world generally.
I feel it important that our movement should encompass both approaches. Politics without the change in ethic will become manipulative, corrupt and 'straight'. The 'existential approach' without politics is even more dangerous. The danger, it seems to me, is irresponsibility, a search for personally satisfying modes of life which becomes so intense that the need for helping others to change theirs is forgotten. This threat becomes all the more-real when it is remembered that the 'existential' approach is much more attractive, in the sense of demanding less contact with hostile society - the achievement of 'community' for ourselves and those close to us seems to be something within reach, not decades away.

This, then, is what I feel to be basically wrong at the moment - that the existential approach has gained an undue ascendancy, and has become, in the cases of some of its devotees, openly hostile to a political line. Even more importantly I believe that those who put their hopes exclusively in this existential approach, of achieving personal salvation and gratification, will be cruelly disappointed. Our alienation and unhappiness is not some metaphysical equivalent of bubonic plague, some irrevocable doom, it is a sense of powerlessness resulting from a failure to act. It is not a solvent of will, or an obstacle to useful work. To enter into the society which is responsible, and forming bonds with other men to change it, is the way to, overcome it. Those who attempt to alter themselves without altering the causes which made them as they are, are writing in sand, and very possibly end up thoroughly disillusioned with G.L.F. Other results of this line are the people who act out their hang-ups in a larger arena, like a Thursday meeting, and attempt to make their problems take precedence over collective concerns; yet another result is the group which wants to turn opium (or LSD) into the religion of the people. The whole problem of this kind of person was summed up by Trotsky's comment on the poet Yesinin. "He thought to frighten the bourgeoisie by making scenes, but as it turned out, the bourgeoise was delighted, it adores scenes. One thing alone does not delight it — a decrease in its power".

My argument is, therefore, for the restoration of balance, of creative tension between a personalist approach and a political one. At the moment the latter appears to be a minority, and one which is not very well regarded. It is ironic that to the other line, all talk is relevant and acceptable even the most neurotic and irrelevant ramblings, except a serious political discussion. This, apparently, 'alienates gay people'. The whole middle-class, timid, personalist ethos of G.L.F. alienates gay people already and it is interesting that those who cry most loudly about 'alienating gay people' are quite ready to tell other gay people who happen to be politically committed to go and talk elsewhere. I believe that if this should happen, as it very well could, it would be a very grievous loss to both sides.

As I write this, Vietnamese peasants are being napalmed once again by the military of the most powerful nation in the world. A G.L.F. that requires me to sit once a week in an awareness group social gathering and ignore the wider context causes and solution of gay oppression, and all oppression, is not one to which I choose to belong, nor will others who feel strongly that they cannot separate their identity as citizens and workers from their gayness.
It has even happened that opponents of the extreme personalist line have been attacked as being 'anti-gay' - an accusation which could be applied with far more justice to those who attempt to those who attempt to isolate gay people from general movements of their society.

Jan ‘73.


Four of us went along on Tuesday, 5th February, to the Methodist Central Hall, Corporation Street, to witness the Grand Premiere of Arthur Blessit's Film titled "GO GO GO WITH ARTHUR".

Prior to the film the audience, with the conspicuous absence of the G.L.F. members, sang songs and said prayers, led from the platform by various well-drilled speakers who all put on a good theatrical performance.
Much to our amazement we were informed by Don Summers (president of the Don Summers Evangelistic Association) that it is planned to hold a "Heart of the Nation Crusade" at Bingley Hall between the 9th and 30th of June which is expected to attract 100,000 people, all for Jesus.

To finance this extravaganza thousands of people were asked to contribute 20p a week, (the price of an orange, we were told by Don with a plastic smile). Everybody was given a card which they were subtly pressurised to fill in immediately (thereby saving the postage, they were told) and asked to volunteer to be a prayer-partner or a share-partner (no bed-partners, unfortunately, so we didn't bite).

Arthur's film was of his visit to Birmingham last year which culminated in his rally at Handsworth Park. Four members of G.L.F. had been present at this rally, but no mention of their protest, or of gay people in general, was made in the film.
Arthur's whole line of thought can be best be summed up in the story he related of how, in America, he set up his Crusade H.Q. next to a porn shop. As people left the porn shop he would proposition them and say, "Psst, wanna see some stronger stuff?" and then pull out .... THE HOLY BIBLE. This sort of story typified his method of preaching, and was met with roars of approval from the youth-dominated audiences.

Without waiting for the credits we left the meeting and strategically stationed ourselves on the pavement outside the main entrance ready to distribute our leaflets. These said we were opposed to the Jesus people because they believed the homosexual expression of love to be a sin.

To start with people accepted the leaflet thinking that it was more Jesus literature, but as soon as they realised what it was various attitudes were adopted towards us. The older people were barely prepared to read the leaflet let alone talk about it, whereas the younger element were, and we talked to them for about 90 minutes. The basic line was that if all gay people turned on to Jesus not only would homosexuality be unnecessary but we would in fact find in repulsive. One "former" homosexual who was there actually said that this had happened to him but Loire, who spoke to him, felt that he was trying to convince himself as much as her of his belief in Jesus, and his rejection of homosexuality.

At one point we were struck quite forcibly by the proximity between their "love" and the undercurrent of violence which demonstrated itself by their crowding around us chanting Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

From our discussions with them we continually came up against the idea that the Bible was the absolute authority on human lifestyles. Fighting this was like hitting one's head against a brick wall, but nevertheless we believe that we gave them food for thought in that they were speaking, probably for the first time, to homosexuals who were glad and proud to be gay and were expressing their solidarity in the face of oppression.

Frank, Richard, Louise, Colin.
March '73.


We had been married for seven years when my husband told me that he was a homosexual. We had had several rows - all variations on the same theme; I would say "Why can't you love me?" and he couldn't give an answer. Finally he broke down and told me. The strange thing was that I had never suspected but once I knew the reason his attitude towards me became crystal clear. I tried to answer but at first it was difficult. I knew nothing about homosexuality really, there was no-one to turn to, and the one book in the library simply gave statistics and was really no help.

We decided to part at some time in the future, perhaps when we had both found someone else. It wasn't long before we realised that that wasn't the easiest thing in the world. My husband had had no relationships with anyone until then and we both
wondered how I would feel when he did. The event came and went and I didn't feel much. It's a bit different if your husband has sex with another man rather than with another woman. In the former case he can't love you properly and in the latter he can, but doesn't. I didn't feel rejected or jealous; I knew he loved me as much as he could love any woman.

I decided next that I would like to meet his boyfriend. So I did although he's admitted since that he was scared stiff at the thought of meeting me. But as time went by we became friends and after knowing each other for a year are still friends. He still comes to see me although my husband and I are not separated and is one of the few people who isn't embarrassed at talking about the fact that my husband has left. Why is it that the only people who will admit to the fact that I've got troubles are either gay or have troubles themselves? The gay people I know aren't inhibited in talking about their emotions or yours. Most happy (well, so called happy) people tend to treat me like a leper. Afraid I might cry or mention love or something equally un-British! Is it because my gay friends have suffered that they can communicate with the suffering? Not original observations I suppose, but at this moment that's how it seems to me.

It's miserable to have your marriage break up and I wish that the objecting PTA members at Coleshill* and others of their ilk would realise what tragedies ensue when a gay man or woman decides to try to be "straight" and get married because they think that there is no alternative for them. The situation isn't so rare either, I've heard of several others. To me it seems imperative that education should include sympathetic help, advice and information for all young people about homosexuality. If this had been available when my husband was at school or college then he and I would have been spared a lot of unhappiness.

On the face of it you could say it was time wasted. But in spite of everything we've managed to salvage quite a bit. Our three children are still ours, they havn't suffered because we've parted. I think this was because there was no bitterness between us and we parted very good friends. We havn't used the children as pawns to get back at one another, They just accept now that they've two homes - in fact they use this as a status symbol when boasting to their friends. I've learned not to make snap judgements about other people's marriages; it took me seven years to find out what was wrong with my own.

Now that we've separated and everyone knows and we can both begin again, we're happier. And even if it wasn't the most successful marriage that ever was, we'll try to have the most successful divorce!

March '73.

*This refers to the Coleshill incident recorded in the article "A Camp Day at the Comp". (ed.)


Having just gone through the processes of the law again, I'm reminded of my previous experiences with the police. My thoughts about liberation are still somewhat confused. Perhaps you, the reader, can sort out the answer to my problem.

The police began to take an unfavourable interest in me in the 1940s. Already, during the previous ten years, society and its way of life had instilled into me the jumbled-up feeling of having a very twisted wicked mind that couldn't be straightened out. Although I expected British justice when I was arrested, the occupation of a police-cell was a most frightening experience. The time alternated between absolute solitude, periods of abuse, being physically pushed around, and the ordeal of having my finger-prints taken.

A person walking the streets with a male body dressed in female clothing was an object of great amusement to the many persons entering and leaving the police station. They were quick to show there disapproval of such an object as a "queer". This was also carried on during my appearance in court, and even included .the remarks and grins of my so-called peers, the members of the Bench.

They, in their wisdom, placed me in Winston Green for seven days for a medical report to be supplied by the M.D. of the prison who, besides head shrinking, specialised in inspection for body lice. He also seemed to be general dogsbody and the very roots of the grape-vine, as the details of my "crime" seemed to be
known by everyone in the prison. The aim of some of the prisoners, and most of the warders, was my discomfort.

After being weighed up, tried, and judged as something very unpleasant (though not a spy in my native land - this possibility was investigated - or a deserter from H.M. forces - my discharge from the army was honourable, and on physical, not mental, grounds) I was cast to the overworked probation officer, with whom contact seemed almost non-existent. This lasted for twelve months, after which I was free, having paid for my "crime", but still dejected, depressed, more disillusioned, and as "queer" as ever.

At this stage I would like to point out that from my early teens, until some three years ago, I had never encountered anyone like me, and therefore no-one who understood me.

My second encounter with LAW and JUSTICE was some twenty years afterwards. During the intervening period, to agree with the general attitude, and fit in with the mentally sick state I was considered to be in, I had a period as an in-patient, and long periods as an out-patient, at a mental hospital. This second encounter with the police also had its full quantity of ridicule from the police. This included holding my skirt up in front of three giggling police women. I was also given fatherly advice by the station sergeant, who thought he would help me confiscating my female clothes (this was without a court order) and having them burned. The magistrates decided that, for the offence of walking in the streets in a manner of which they disapproved (but which was natural to me) justice would be done by binding me over to be of (what they considered to be) good behaviour. This, although there was no press publicity, left me feeling again very uncertain of what life was all about.

From that date we go forward another ten years, with more treatment for periods of deep depression and despair, which included taking drugs which were prescribed entirely by trial and error. This treatment was carried out by a psychologist
who stated that this was the first time he had carried out this treatment. It consisted of him getting me really "high", so I didn't have a care in the world, and getting me to dress up in my very best clothes. He then injected something into my vein which made me violently sick and supposedly, filled with remorse. For good measure a variety of electric shocks were tried under different conditions.

This first treatment seemed to fail because the dosage was so experimental that I either became "too high" to be able to react to the other drug, or I became too sleepy to do anything. The electric shock treatment seemed to have no positive reaction, perhaps because the equipment used was entirely home-made by the head shrinker himself and continually broke down. Part of the treatment, incidentally, took place in the hospital toilets.

The only treatment that I've found successful is that prescribed by G.L.F. This consists of the company of fellow queer brothers and sisters, with the complete relaxed feeling of being accepted, for the first time in a lifetime.

The latest clash with authority was a Saturday night during January this year, when a number of "bovver boys" started calling and badgering me while walking through the crowded Coventry central shopping area when, although I had passed some six or eight of the Fuzz at different spots, and they had taken little or no notice of me or the way I acted or was dressed, I was grabbed by the arm and told that I was being arrested for "acting in manner against the peace of our Sovereign Lady the Queen, her crown and dignity", was then pushed into a police van and taken to the station. There I was told that "I should thank my lucky stars, as the louts had told the arresting P.C. that they were about to knock the living daylights out of me". From this we must conclude that the victim is much easier to arrest than the aggressors, especially if they number more than one.

One important question was asked of me while there, it being "Have you any male clothes?" The importance of this was explained afterwards by my solicitors. The law as it stands is interpreted as follows: - No action can be taken against the person possessing no male clothes, therefore in effect living as a female. My crime was having male clothes to work in, and so acting in a manner di da di da and this charge therefore can be bought at any time by the bloody-minded.

Perhaps another interesting point was that after being detained in a cold station cell for over three hours I was released on my own security of ten pounds dressed entirely as when arrested and, as it seemed, in a perfectly respectable acceptable state to all concerned.

My sentence was to be bound over to be of good behaviour for the sum of twenty pounds. So how do I proceed now? Do I now cast aside my glad rags and return to despair and all that goes with it? Or do I still dig for liberation? The latter I am sure is for me. Under no circumstances will I turn back.

with Love from Connie.
March '73.


"Can I meet you somewhere?"
"Row about the Vic?"

Well how about it? I get the feeling that more and more people are beginning to hate going to the Victoria (Birmingham's most popular gay pub), yet every week there seems to be more and more people in the place. Having been leafleting there on several occasions and going there for the occasional drink, I must say that I am getting fed up of the place and the horrible atmosphere that seems to be the regular thing these days. The manager (affectionately known as Adolf) has often threatened GLF people when we have been conspicuous (and I must admit that we are conspicuous by being some of the only 'gay' gay people who frequent the place). On past occasions he has assaulted several people that I have been with and usually threatens to call the police when we leaflet outside the pub.

The place is also used by many straights who come to look at the queers' or who on finding that the place is frequented by homosexuals start sending everybody up. I am happy to note that certain members of GLF are now beginning to send up the 'straights' by chatting up the young men and being generally outrageous.

Many of the gay people there can be very bitchy to us leafleTters too, but I am prepared to make some exception as they will usually take a leaflet if I can be bitchy enough back to them (Can anyone tell me why gays have to be so bitchy to one another?). Recently, I have been almost hit on the nose by some tough who said "Do I look as if I'm gay?" when I handfed him a leaflet on our discos (Well what was he doing in the Vic anyway?). One girl came up and said "You're not really queer are you?" I told her I was to which she said "You mean you go round fucking little boys?" To which I answered "No dear, I just go round fucking him (indicating GLF friend)".

Well last Friday was the best I think. It was probably the one night at the Vic that I will really remember. We were leafletting for the dance and there were about about eight GLF people there and it was a really good feeling of gay solidarity. Soon after we arrived the cops showed up to deal with some fight that was going on in the Vic. They stood outside and watched as we continued to distribute leaflets. At first we were a little hesitant but soon we had enough courage to be handing them out with the police and the manager watching. So much for the threats of the manager.

June '73.


Would gay people still cottage or would the majority of it disappear if we lived in a non-repressive all-accepting society, for I have always thought it mainly a product of our oppression in that our ways of contacting other gays are so minimal and restrictive. Cottaging, however, provides a very easy instant anonymous form of sex and I think it will always exist to some degree.

I have cottaged, and will probably do it again, but I always feel a sense of guilt and can only justify it in terms of our oppression. It always seems so sordid and such a lowering of human dignity to have sex in lavatories, some of which are extremely dirty and unhygienic. Yet lasting friendships do start in such places and to that extent they are not just whorehouses. It can also be argued that there are probably a large number of older and perhaps unattractive people for whom the cottages offer their only sexual outlet.

What disturbs me most about cottaging is the anonymity of it and the way people are sexually objectified to the point almost of dehumanisation. We run down the gay clubs and pubs for being "meat racks" where gays objectify each other and talk sexual barter, yet surely the cottages are much worse. Here the ultimate in sexual objectification is seen with none or very little talking and usually no wish to see each other after the episode. In fact many people who have sex together in a cottage would wish to ignore each other in the street afterwards as if to try and forget the incident. This type of reaction is obviously a product of extreme guilt and I wonder to what extent cottaging as a whole intensifies people's guilt about their gayness and therefore works against the cause of gay liberation.

Cottages, with their instant furtive sex and easy exit are tailor-made for some people who seek to maintain a self-image of heterosexuality, and a recent survey carried out in America showed a high proportion of the people who cottaged to be married men. There are probably many other gay people who feel so guilty and are afraid of discovery so much that they avoid above all any lasting or non-physical contact with other gays outside the cottages. To me the tragedy of the cottages is not their sordidness but that so few gays who use them refuse to see their homosexuality as other than a genital urge.

Obviously while gays find it so difficult to contact each other and the existing social outlets are so limited and bad they will find the need to cottage and certainly in those circumstances
I think there is every reason to excuse it. However, part of our liberation must involve working towards the creation of a more genuine, rewarding and friendly gay community, one in which people will not find the need to cottage.
In conclusion it should be said that cottaging would seem to be the province of the male gay only, there being no evidence as far as I know, to show interest being taken in it by our gay sisters.

Sept ‘73


The problems of a homosexual in our society stem directly from the attitudes to sexuality which are taught by the family (emphasis on heterosexuality, monogamy, the desirability of having children - GLF members will be familiar with the ideas). It is therefore important to understand how and why the present family structure i.e. the nuclear family, father mother and a few offspring living together, is maintained by our society.

We live in a capitalist society i.e. one in which the few own great wealth obtained by producing vast quantities of commodities which are sold to the many at a profit. In Britain 7% of the population own 84% of the wealth. Since wealth is power, these people are the ruling class, and are able to gain control of the mass media using them to disseminate ideas which benefit themselves. Thus the ruling class succeed in putting across the idea that the nuclear family is 'right' and 'natural' when what they mean is that it is useful to them.

Why is the nuclear family in the interests of the ruling class? Firstly this class needs a large labour force to produce the commodities, so it needs people to produce and rear children. Since a wide variety of commodities are bought at the rate of one per family (house, car, T.V. etc) the larger the number of families the more commodities are sold. The smaller the family unit, the larger the number of families. The nuclear family ideally suits the capitalist, as it is the smallest possible family unit.

Secondly, the ruling class justifies its activities by invoking the desirability of aggression and competitiveness. All those characteristics are ones which men in our society are expected and trained to exhibit. So the values of capitalism are masculine values. The nuclear family, in which the father is head of the household, and the womans function is to attend to the needs of her husband and children, exemplifies these values and passes them on to the next generation. The family trains children to accept capitalist society. Once the working class has accepted the nuclear family they become subject to the favourite ruling class tactic - divide and rule. Each worker believes that his purpose is to provide for his own family. This discourages workers from acting collectively to obtain a fair share of the wealth. Since the worker is isolated in a small unit the spread and development of revolutionary ideas is hindered.

In the family the man is the provider - even if his wife works her earnings will be half his. The family man is thus reluctant to strike or take any other measure since this might resolve in loss of his earning power and his family suffering. As Alexandra Kollontai remarks "Worry for his family takes the backbone out of a worker, obliges him to dicker with capital. What will the father and mother not do when there children are hungry?" ("Communism and the family" Pluto Press page 12).

While the husband is the provider the wife is the main consumer, she does all the shopping and pays out the money he earns. Consequently the conflict between high prices and low wages tends to occur in the home, not in the shop or factory, where it might harm the capitalists interests. The husband blames the wife instead of blaming the capitalist. The wife is also used as a scapegoat in other ways; the frustration and alienation caused to the man by doing monotonous boring work at low pay is taken out on the wife and children, instead of causing him to try and improve his lot.

We have said that the womans function is to serve the husband and children. Because she has to be at home during late pregnancy and until the children go to school, the wife is not able to work full time she must therefore accept any job which fits in with her family needs; womans role in the family puts her in a position to be exploited as cheap labour. Because of her family role she is neither taught nor encouraged to be interested in politics, but only in the home and the family. Women are usually conservative and inactive, and thus less likely to resist the poor pay and conditions thrust upon them.

Thus the nuclear family is necessary to capitalism in all these ways; it provides a useful unit of consumption and provides the new labour force; it trains future generations in the values of capitalism; it weakens the solidarity of the working class; it diverts the anger and frustrations of workers away from the ruling class; and it provides women as a source of cheap labour.

It seems that Don Milligan is wrong in his claim that "The family is not economically necessary to capitalism, but it is vital as a mechanism of social control" ("The Politics of Homosexuality" Pluto Press page 12). The family is more than just a mechanism of social control; however the distinction between social and economic is somewhat inappropriate since any threat to capitalism is a treat to the wealth of the ruling class, and thus an economic threat.

Since the ruling class has the power to maintain the nuclear family as an institution, we can only achieve complete sexual liberation by the overthrow of capitalism. But we can also threaten capitalism by attacking the nuclear family. This is one of the tasks that lies ahead of us.

Pat Hubbleday.
Nov '73.


Very few, if any, straight men spend time wondering why they are straight - flicking through their puberty for the fatal incident or thumbing the pages of a psychology book. But for someone who is gay the question of why they are is likely to be more pressing, and the more painfully they experience their oppression the more they may see their sexuality as a 'sickness'. Psychiatry both plays-off and fosters this self-doubt; it has assumed the right to slander, assult and destroy us as gay people, no matter what the idiocy of its arguments or the hollowness of the sentiments justifying them. And though we are fighting back, having learned that it is us alone who know about being gay, psychiatrists and psychologists continue to turn a fast and fraudulent buck at our expense.

But we should be careful that in showing-up the nonsense of their attacks on us we do not miss the underlying logic of their 'theories' and 'explanations'; for so often they betray a commitment to, and defence of existing values and forms that gay people have rightly realised are deeply involved in our oppression - in particular, the nuclear family and tightly defined gender-roles. To illustrate what I mean I'd like to take some notes on "Male Homosexual Orientation' that were used as the basis of three lectures given by a psychologist for the course I'm attending.

To begin with, and predictably, these notes assume that to be gay is to be sick, or to have failed to develop in some way - and, as usual the bitter fruits of our oppression (self-hatred, loneliness, anxiety) are offered confirming this. With this sort of inability to tell a cart from a horse, the fact that gay people have to struggle to find love, affection and sex - often at great cost - goes quite unremarked. Anyway, having made this assumption the possible factors that drive a person to this 'sickness' are then listed. Reading carefully these can be seen to fall into two categories: 1. Ways in which the mother and father have been less than perfectly and clearly feminine and masculine, and 2. Ways in which the individual becomes 'neurotic' in a general sense, thus opening the way for the specific 'symptom' of homosexuality.
Let me give some examples from the first category:
a."Domineering mother may discourage masculine assertiveness and heterosexual competition."
b."Insecure father may discourage assertiveness on son's part and ridicule masculine attempts."
c. "Many girls and women are not as effective psychosocial and sexual reinforcers as ideally desirable."

Now it is rather difficult to know exactly what these sort of statements really mean, but the jargon doesn't succeed in masking their ideological character. It's fairly clear that what goes wrong with gay people is their 'failure' to learn proper assertiveness and competitiveness that goes with being a 'real man' and lusting after "ideally" attractive women. Once again there is the implied and thoroughly antique identification of gayness with effeminacy, with the successful adoption of the male gender-role (particularly in its assertive character) being seen as some sort of mysterious inoculation against being turned-on by men. This seems to me a sort of quarter-truth (though a social one, and not a psychological absolute as both the language and the assumption of the 'naturalness' of straightness imply); for though the male gender-role anxiously excludes any expression of gay feeling, yet merely being a pig doesn't confine one to the sty. The real point is that gay men are pushed into the oppressive male role with varying degrees of success, and hence to varying extents continue the oppression of themselves and women. But perhaps we should not expect too much, for psychiatrists and psychologists have always had great difficulty seeing human creations - like the roles we play - as other than 'laws of nature'. And to go against 'nature'

Contributed by: Gladrag

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