GAY'S THE WORD

Columnists in the metropolitan glossy magazines aimed at metrosexuals (as opposed to mere homosexuals, or bisexuals) have been, for some time, chewing the fat about the use of the word ‘gay’. Apparently it is, (or was), all the rage in school playgrounds. And other places where young persons gather. ‘Gay’ is used to describe anything limp, or second rate, or just plain bad. What is worse, middle class kids are using the word in this manner. This is a dreadful insult to us… queers. ..And there lies upstart’s problem. We, non-heterosexuals, have ‘reclaimed’ the formerly, in the ‘Anglosphere’ anyway, most grosSeand insulting word used to describe us. Why is it illicit for young people who have probably never heard the word ‘queer’ used in the old, coarse manner, and are not benders themselves, to reclaim the word ‘gay’?. The English language is flexible mainly because it is something of a shotgun marriage between two disparate tongues. English as she is spoke in

England is also class-ridden. The French / Latin element in it is almost unknown to many (largely working class) young people who have had the sort of education Mrs Thatcher (and therefore Mr Blair) approved of inflicted upon them. They may well be sneering at the word ‘gay’ because it is from the element in the Ianguage used by authority figures from politicians to teachers. This is not to say that there has not been a coarsening of society. The mention o f Mrs Thatcher above was not gratuitous. She and her ‘ites’ destroyed a great many of the institutions which had made society in England (as opposed to ‘ Great Britain’) a pleasing, kindly place to live in. The trade unionSeand ‘one nation’ Toyism come to mind. She brought in a vision of society which replaced the collaborative, co-operative one born out of the horrible experience of the Great Depression, rather than even the 1939-45 War. This vision was based on her notion that there ‘is no such thing as society’ (she claims she did not use that precise phrase…). The grisly economic free-for-all she introduced was based on the ownership of large(sometimes obscenely large) amounts of cash. And hard cash was the crucial aspect of this; the owners of said dough were not expected to behave in a ‘social’ manner. And they didn’t. They did not endow universities, schools or churches (except possibly the Church of Scientology). They are making money out of fantastical (PFl – private finance initiative) arrangements whereby they get vast sums of the taxpayers’ money to build collegeSeand schools. Which they will eventually own as private property – you couldn’t, to coin a phrase, make it up. This has led to the situation where there are growing numbers of ‘gated communities’ in the area around London, the ‘Home (whose home?) – it used to be the monarch, but now it is probably Roman Abramovitch) Counties’ in particular.

The twee phrase ‘gated community’ is a poIitism for a kind of ghetto, a place where the very rich gather for their own protection (and that of their goodSeand gains -well-gotten, or otherwise). It is also the reason why boys (and some girls, mostly complete innocents) who should be running Scout and Guide troops are being shot and killed on a regular basis. An element of racism, real and inverted, has been introduced into this because most of these children have been ‘West Indian’, as even third generation Londoners are described by the media. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear knows quite well that this cohort of ‘immigrants’ have become not’ British’ but specifically English. They are responding to the same stimuli as the men who got obscene ‘bonuses’ in The City [the ‘square mile of

London], just before Christmas. They have found their niche in the market economy. They supply drugs which are – effectively – quasi-legal. Even supplying heroin is something of a ‘gray area’ in the policing of large conurbations, it is the source of the killings. The profits are just too large to temper greed with mercy, for the people who administer the trade.

That may sound an oddly pompous way to describe such people, just remember that generations of sound chaps (George Orwell’s father, for example) administered the trade in opium between the proudly-entitled ‘British India’ and

China. (There was a move to add China directly to the Empire, but Uncle Sam did not appreciate the idea. Orwell’s Da waSean Inspector of [opium] Plantations; his job was to ensure that the stuff was of sufficient quantity and quality to keep the Chinese masses befuddled. And the Chinese State enfeebled.) ‘Our’ great universities (i.e. Oxbridge) operate on the dictum ‘pecunia non olent’ – ‘money doesn’t stink’. The most disgracefully plundered booty, Cecil Rhodes’s riches, for example, becomes mature old money when it is spent in accepted ways. The filthy rich these days prefer to buy football clubs rather than endow Chairs in universities. The Irish and the Indians are (somewhat) different in this regard, but only just. Sport is also, traditionally, an excellent way of ‘laundering’ dirty money.

It’s true to say that the cohort who use ‘gay’ as ‘not good’ have been joined by the likes of Chris Moyles (seen on the telly being ‘interviewed’ by CharIotte Church and behaving like a dirty old man whose wa*k’ fantasy has just come true). That’Sean extremely coarse image – but we are not ashamed of using it – he iSean element of the coarsening of English, or metropolitan, culture made flesh. (Lots of it.) The metrosexual glossies are also affected by this style. Their columnists bemoan the use of ‘gay’ as a put-down, but the word ‘c*nt’ is scattered throughout them like confetti. And it is used as a much more crude ‘adult’ form of put-down, than kids using gay’.

We are ‘right to be worried by this trend to use a word with which we chose to describe ourselves (apart from having sexual connotations since it entered the language in Plantagenet times, it usefully contained the acrostic Good As You’) being used aSean insult. But we clearly have the odd mote in our collective eye. This is not (more’s the pity) a Gay Liberationist call to the barricades but if we cleaned up our own act it might encourage others to clean up theirs.

The Youngest Director

Auth: Martyn Goff

Pub: Brillance Books Written in the 1950’Seand first published in 1961, this, Goff’s second novel with a Gay theme, is the story of a successful Company Director whose rise to the top is thwarted by the Chairman’s discovering that he Leonard, the youngest Director is Gay, due to betrayal by another Gay man in whom Leonard confided. He refuses to conceal his private life and thus loses his position. The theme of the novel is the conflict between private desire and enforced public practice, between the social and cultural traditions of the British Establishment and the sub-culture hidden within it. The power of public morality is demonstrated by the fact that although the youngest Director rejects the heterosexual, set-up his own life is a mirror image of his fellow Directors. I would recommend this book to Gays who think we live in a “liberated” age. We have come a long way since 1961 – but we have still got a long way to go.

Death Trick

[Death Trick: A Murder Mystery (Donald Strachey Mysteries)

Author: Richard Stevenson

Pub: Alyson Pub Inc

Very, very good – best of its kind – according to the people who read it. But nobody’s produced a review]

Mates

Auth: Tom Wakefield

Pub: GMP

The story is about two men who meet on National Service. They are both passive characters – no fight, no bite, they failing, rather than create, a relationship. There is no real change in them or their relationship though it goes from the 1950’s until the mid-seventies.

About upstart Publishing?

Mission Statement:upstart publishing” is a Gay community publication which provides support across all ages, all social levels, all genders, all ethnic communitieSeand all faiths.

 

In 1982, Se n McGouran, and David (Terry) McFarlane took over as the editors of NIGRA (the Northern Ireland Gay rights Association)’s publication Gay Star, following in the foot steps of previous editor Peter Brooke and Brian Gilmore(who had produced a photocopied update’ for Belfast GLF, and edited NIGRA NewSeand Northern Gay). It was felt that the community had already outgrown the need for a news bulletin. They and many other creative Gay women and men in out (then) catchment area needed an outlet for their talents. These included memoirs, articles about every possible aspect of Gay life from leather’ to nudity to religion (and irreligion). There was much poetry, and a solid input over years of cartoonSeand illustrations, articles to free standing and distinguished graphic material.

 

 

A fair number of contributors rode their favoured hobbyhorses in both Gay Star and upstart, from the general superiority of human culture anywhere on mainland Europe to those of the Islands of the North Atlantic (in particular Ulster’) to the total lack of anything like a Gay culture’. There was also nudism and leather’ (and drag’), Thomas Mann’s sexuality, (and that of Roger Casement), the singer-songwriter Diamanda Gallas (and the English poet John Gallas) and Benjamin Britten.

 

 

Our catchment area’ broadened out from the Six Counties of Northern Ireland to include contributors from all of Ireland, all of the British Isles, and as far afield as Denmark and all over the

USA.

 

The two journals covered all the trialSeand tribulations of the Gay community (everywhere, in so far as it was possible) and the many and various campaigns of NIGRA. These ranged from the administering Jeff Dudgeon’s case at the European Court of Human Rights which led to Thatcher’s government having to extend the relevant elements of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act to the region. This was described by NIGRA at the time as inherently homophobic but it led to a position where all Gay people in the UK State were equally oppressed. (We could have campaigned together to demand equal citizenship, NIGRA organised a conference in 1984, to attempt to get an all-UK organisation off the ground but it failed in that respect). The Dudgeon Case’ had been used frequently in the past, in the Supreme Courts of Columbia and Romania, and in national assemblies as far apart as Azerbaijan and

Barbados.

 

Other campaigns included many clashes with the police, they were resolved, – we thought – by the RUC’s response to a number of phenomena. One was NIGRA’s monitoring of the law courtSeand visits to RUC barracks which had been involved in purges’ of men engaged in sex in the open or in public conveniences. Most of the Superintendent’s in charge of the stations were amenable to plain talk. We told them that the response was often hugely out of proportion to the crimes committed. That the men arrested could take their own lives (and this has become more prevalent, by the objects of moral cleansing’ by paramilitaries). And that families break up and divorce can ensue from what is usually very low level law breaking.

 

 

They in every single case told us that any such arrests were due to complaints from the public. This destroyed a long-cherished Gay urban myth’ which the police go out and arrest people in cottages’ and cruising areas, to boost their arrest targets.

Germane to the above were two campaigns, one on the murder, in July 1979, of Anthony McCleave, which the police claimed was not a gay-bashing killing. That was probably to spare’ the family the shame’ of owning up to Tony being queer. The family, which had lost a brother in the early 1970s, in a sectarian assassination, were determined that the case remain open’, even though there was little hope that the killer, or killers would ever be caught.

 

 

The other campaign had to do with the use of the Portsmouth Defence’ (or homosexual panic defense’) whereby men can plead that they killed other men because they allegedly made sexual advances to them. These killings were (and are) usually appallingly violent and, despite the sheer horror of being the objects of sexual advances by another male theft plays a part in many such killings. NIGRA fought mightily to get this matter onto the agenda of the Gay movement and it was taken up by many in the legal profession. The Portsmouth Defence’ is for all practical purposes a dead letter not just in the

UK but in all common law’ countries. (This is also due to the great change in the legal perception of Gay women and men women were victims of this same legal perversion.)

 

 

The RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary now the Police Service of Northern Ireland-PSNI) attended the major conference in

Manchesterin 1995, ‘Policing Diversity, An agenda for change’. In 1997 NIGRA commenced a series of seminars for students at the police college in Carnerville. For some reason the RUC unilaterally changed this arrangement, in 1999. The PSNI made a series of disastrous decisions about policing male sexual activity in various venues all over the region in 2006. This led, like all the other purges in the past, to suicides, family break-ups, men losing their jobs and social difficulties for their spouseSeand children. A sinister aspect of this particular crack down’ was the involvement of the UVF in the harassment of the men accused of very low level crimes. The behaviour of the Belfast Telegraph, the region’s largest selling journal was as bad, if not worse, than it has been for the past twenty years. The editor appeared to be condoning the vigilantism of a quasi-criminal paramilitary organisation, which has not surrendered up one bullet, twelve years after the original ceasefires’.

 

 

The journalistic queer-bashing of the Telegraph (aka Bellylaugh) and its stable mate Sunday Life has been the object of vigorous campaigning by NIGRA. This included pasting up a Wanted’ poster about a particular journalist in 1995. An article about this matter was published in Fortnight, and the journalist in question, in an interview in the Irish News, said that the person he was persecuting would have been treated better if he had played ball’. The Belfast Telegraph group had accused NIGRA of attacking press freedom, with a handful of yellow A3 posters! Yet here was the perpetrator of a publicity stunt that could well have ended in at least one suicide glorying in his power over other’s lives. The other papers are editorially liberal in regard to Gay women and men (but the Irish News still refuses to publish Cara-Friend’s advertisements), the New Letter has taken a liberal line since the early 1970s. The Sunday World and the now defunct Sunday News tried to outdo each other in tabloid’ silliness, but essentially did little harm. But NIGRA took the decision not to facilitate them for a number of years in the 1980s.

 

 

The ban’ was lifted when the Gay Pride festival got off the ground in 1991. The LGBT Pride is going from strength to strength (and has been a free-standing organisation since 2000). The police presented themselves for questioning in 1998, and there were a number of debates on ethics involving people as diverse as Brian McClinton of the Ulster Humanist Association, Michael Harnack an American queer Catholic’, and Bishop Pat Buckley. In 1999 UTV (

Ulster television) made a half hour programme on LGBT Pride. 1999 was also the year a Pride Reception was held in Belfast‘s City Hall. This video (donated by the makers*) was shown at the InterPride (the international organisation for LGBT Prides) held in Glasgow that year. Delegates from Mexico were particularly impressed by the fact that a bishop graced our Pride, and by the City Hall Reception. (Ours is a genuinely supranational movement this is not the first time a tiny region like NornIrl’ has affected the general movement in other parts of the world. A showing of a half hour video has almost certainly spurred those delegates on to more ambitious things.)

 

 

upstart

 

This publication was started in 1984 for a number of reasons GS was a quarterly and a regular news sheet was necessary for a number of reasons. NIGRA held its InterInsular Conference to attempt to get an all-UK Gay law reform movement off the ground, and tell our friendSeand allies in the Republic {of Ireland} about the proposed purge of workers by the Eastern Health and Social Services Board (one of the biggest employers in the region) which might have become relevant to them (fortunately it has not but many activists in the Republic realised in listening to Lawrence Pimley of NIPSA (the NI Public Service Alliance), who addressed the Conference, that they had solid allies in the trade union movement. This iSeanother example of cross-fertilisation within our movement the

UK‘ aspect to the event was not a success.

 

 

There was also a very widespread purge by the police all over the region we printed a guide to what not to do while in police custody. This was re-printed three times over the next twenty yearSeand produced as a bust card’ in A1 fold over format. As demonstrated in 2006, even the most widespread and regular activity is not always successful. 1984 was also the year the NI AIDS Helpline was set up after a conference in the Carpenter Club. It used the Cara-Friend men’s line for most of the year, until the Helpline got its own premises.

 

 

The publication had a number of titles, Belfast Gay News, update (which developed into a printed sheet with a rather elegant masthead designed by Gary Ho. upstart was a serendipitous slip of the tongue by a reader it seemed very apt at a time when the people producing it were out of office’ and could write what they liked. This is what we hope to do with this e-zine’

 

 

(part II of this article to follow soon, covering areas about our sponsers, links to other publications etc.)

A DEMAND FOR EQUALITY OF CITIZENSHIP

or Sixteen All Round

TWO CABINET MINISTERS have promised two different correspondents in Northern Ireland that they will support the extension of any change in the (homosexual) age of consent to this region. They were Chris Smith, Secretary for State for Culture, the Media and Sport, (whose disinterested support we are glad to acknowledge), and Marjorie (‘Mo’) Molam, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Her promise was that we would get an age of consent o f17. Dr. Molam repeated this offer to the Executive of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association, whey they met her on December 18, 1997.

This is in line with the reply to a Parliamentary Question put by Kate Hoey MP (Labour, Vaux-hall), to Adam Ingram MP, a Minister of State at the NIO [Northern Ireland Office]. This written response (dated Thursday, July 24, 1997) was to the effect that the different age of consent was due to the recommendations of the Lynn Committee. It was passed into law in the Children and Young Persons Act of the Northern Ireland [Stormont] parliament in 1950: it is dated February 14, 1950.

This is ‘ on the face of it ‘ pretty conclusive, though it does indicate that this oddity (the differ-ential age of consent) is not some ancient enactment of he vassal Irish parliament. 1950 is quite a long time ago, but it is not ‘time immemorial’ (a legal term meaning before the reign of Richard II).

 

 

THE COMMITTEE

The Lynn Committee stated work on December 10, 1935, and produced its Report in 1938 (no specific date is given in the text). The title of the Report is The Protection And Welfare Of The Young And The Treatment Of Young Offenders, it is long, thorough, and well (even elegantly) written.

In Scope Of The Inquiry, section 1, the fourth (unnumbered) paragraph reads: “We have not attempted to define exactly in terms of age the expression “young” and “young offender”; but we have in general confined our inquiry to persons under 21, though we go beyond that limit in dealing with the treatment of Borstal inmateSeand young prisoners.”

In Recent Changes in the Law in England and Wales, Section 3, the second paragraph reads: “The differences between the existing law in England and WaleSeand in Northern Ireland are explained in detail in the succeeding sections of this Report. It is sufficient to note here that among more important changes brought about by the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, were the raising of the maximum age on the definition of “young person” from 16 to 17 years ””.

(An Act containing the same provisions was enacted for Scotland in 1934 ‘ NIGRA).

The Northern Ireland Children and Young Persons Act, 1950, (the languid pace of law-making is very striking), in its first section reads:

 

“It shall be no defence to a charge or indictment for an indecent assault on a child or young person under the age of sixteen to prove that he or she consented to the act of indecency” (Our emphasis ‘ NIGRA)

 

This is practically the first item one reads in the [Children and Young Persons] Act referred to by Mr. Ingram, and it is as near to being an age of consent as it is possible to get. (“Age of consent” is not a technical legal term; it is “journalese”).

 

The Act, like the Lynn Report itself, is very clearly written and thoroughgoing.

 

The age was changed by adding a Schedule to the Criminal Law Amendment Act [13 & 14 Geo. 5] (Northern Ireland), 1923.

 

It is obvious from the above, that for nearly seventeen years, the effective age of consent was lower in Northern Ireland than it was in the rest of the UK.

 

To ask for the same age of consent as the rest of the UK, it to ask for this region to return to the approach to the law and to law-making, which informed the deliberations of the Lynn Committee (an eminently respectable group of worthy citizens).

 

WHAT PRICE SEVENTEEN?

 

There is a further argument against the proposition put forward by the NIO. It is a piece of legislation enacted at Westminster by, (in effect), the Northern Ireland Office itself: The Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982. This was brought in as a result of NIGRA’s successful fight against the UK government at the European Court of Human Rights. (This was the ‘Dudgeon Case’, which revolved around Mr. Dudgeon’s right to privacy).

It was “made” on “27th October 1982” (it iSean Order In Council, usually wartime emergency legislation, but the normal method of making laws for this region since 1972 ‘ it was signed by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon).

 

A Schedule (to the Offences Against the Person Act (c. 100)), reads:

 

1. in section 61 for the words “shall be liable” onwards substitute – “shall be liable” –

 

(a) where the offence was committed with a boy who at the time of the commission of the offence was under the age of 16 years ””

 

The import of the above is that a ‘boy’ of 16 was deemed, in Northern Ireland, (but not in Britain (England and Wales) or in Scotland), to be capable of committing a crime: ‘ what price 17?

 

 

Published by

NIGRA (the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association)

PO Box 44,

Belfast B1 1SH

Fon:- Belfast 90 665257 / 90 664111

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This hand-out was produced in 1999

Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008

The House of Lords has today voted by 146 to 66 to approve the draft Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008, which is the Northern Ireland equivalent of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
When it comes into force, the Order will change the age of consent in Northern Ireland from 17 to 16.

Harford Montgomery Hyde, the Ulster Unionist MP

Harford Montgomery Hyde, the Ulster Unionist MP (and author of The Other Love) who led the 1950s Westminster campaign for homosexual law reform – his struggle for political survival”

Paper given at the Wolfenden50 conference (28-30 June 2007) at South
Range Lecture Theatre, Strand Campus (enter off Strandthrough Somerset
House), King’s College London, on Saturday 30 June at 11am followed by a
pre-pride reception

[The Editor] – This paper will be shown in three parts over three weeks as it is very comprehensive. Should anyone require a a full copy of the paper please contact:

Mr Jeff Dudgeon

Tel (028) 90664111 or 079 2125 1874

56 Mount Prospect Park
Belfast
BT9 7BG

jeffreydudgeon@hotmail.com

Wales gears up for Rainbow Awards

Cardiff Wales Mardi Gras is inviting the gay community and its friends to its first ever Rainbow Awards Dinner and Dance to celebrate the people and businesses who have contributed to making Mardi GraSeand its campaign to Combat Homophobia a success.