Happy 250th Gay Times!

GT‘s December (2007) edition was its two hundred and fiftieth ‘ that’Sean awful lot of pages ‘ and editors. Not to mention sub-editors, art-editors, and heaven knows what else. It’s been on the go for more than twenty years. That is worth (genuinely) celebrating, especially as GT was a very useful addition to the Gay press in the mid-1980s. And there was a Gay press. Journals were being produced in nearly every town of any size on a regular, mostly monthly, basis. They were largely run on co-operative lines, largely non-profit making, being produced because a Gay press ought to have been produced. There was a culture of the rolling up of sleeves to produce punchy and provocative material. The short-lived, London-based Gay Noise was one such. Belfast’s Gay Star, and in particular upstart were based on Gay Noise‘s strictly non-deferential style, (if not on its somewhat ‘PC’ outlook). Gay Noise also attempted to resurrect the spirit of GLF’s1 Come Together publication. Come Together was produced by GLF in different places. Mostly large cities, there were just more people available to do the dull bits as well as the writing. Gay News arose out of the fact that Come Together dissipated through lack of energy or commitment on the part of some groups (GLF waSean anti-organisation, ranging from anarchists to Maoists to Tories. Getting them in the same room, much less working on the same project waSean exercise in diplomacy. GLF couldn’t really last ‘ except in disguise NIGRA2 is GLF in collar’n’tie. GN was London-based, but encouraged other magazines, it was a co-operative and generally supported CHE3. More to the point, it appeared on a regular basis, was well written, and was not London, or ‘scene’ fixated.Some people (increasingly, it seemed) disliked this situation. After ten years existence, during which it became something of an institution, and was involved in the notorious ‘blasphemous libel’ case, things came to a head. There were a number of scandalSeand schisms. The editor, Denis Lemon, sold the publication, (which he did not own) to a chap who did not have the money to buy it. Prior to that a number of the staff had walked out. They argued that there were ‘too many’ lesbians on the writing staff (one: with about half a dozen ‘stringers’). They also insisted that the punters did not like ‘politics’ (this was before ‘PC’ was invented). They flounced off (the only phrase for it) and set up Gay Reporter, which rarely reported anything, and then it was only ‘scene’ events along the London Underground Victoria and Northern lines.GR shrivelled and died in a matter of months. GN was revived as a pale but uninteresting shadow of itself – complete with glossy cover – featuring, as Gay Star‘s ‘trypesetter’ as she described herself, Ann Cleave, put it “male tarts”. It ran into the ground and was sold to the combine that produced a range of glossy male porn magazines. It had taken in the waifSeand strays from GN and GR, and produced GT. It proudly carried Incorporating Gay News on its masthead for a long time. Boasting about having absorbed the ‘legendary’ GN in edition No. 100. It was mentioned again in edition 150. Then masthead was re-designed and references to GN disappeared.Why, one wonders? Is this a triumph for the mindless consumerism exemplified by Gay Reporter? If we had been slightly less ‘consumerist’ in Thatcher’s heyday we might not now be dependent on the People’s Republic of China. For every household item you care to think of. What does Gay Times actually stand for – other than being part of the Stonewall / New Labour nexus?upstart and Gay Times are the same age ‘ we’ve had somewhat different histories.Se n McGouran

1 The Gay Liberation Front – it was very widespread – from London to Derry.2 The Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association – named in emulation of the NI Civil Rights Association – still out there fighting.3 The Committee, then Campaign for Homosexual Equality – it’s still campaigning – see www.gaymonitor.co.uk.

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