Grey'Seanatomy: Wins GLAAD Award

An ABC show whose lead actor used an anti-gay slur last year has won an award from an organisation that monitors depictions of gaySeand lesbians in the media.

CONSENTING ADULT

Auth: Laura Z Hobson
Pub: Warner Books, 1975

Consenting Adult is ‘a warm-hearted mother-and-son novel with a significant difference: this ia about a mother and a homosexual son’ (John Barkham review).

The novel is written to cover the 1960s: that period of homosexual revolutionary explosion, both in terms of fight for rightSeand (more importantly) the medical fraternity’s acceptance that being homosexual is (and was) not a ‘medical problem.’

Though I did not read this book until the 1980s, its importance to me, a child (now a man) who grew up in the time-frame cannot be expressed. This book brought home to me the problems I had had while growing up, and allied to this the horrors of growing up without having access to information about being gay – the repression that 1 had as a personality, and its effect on my whole development.

It may well be that people will ask what relevance this book has, in these times of enlightenment and information. I believe it is of vital importance, as the government has denied access to information in schools for gays, and in other ways. Also the local campaign by some factions to stop a counselling centres from opening, shows that bigots still abound, and ignorance on homosexual matters still persists.

This book should be on the shelves of every school and local library, and also on the shelf of every reputable counsellor!

I also recommend it without reservation to every homosexual, whether in or out: it is a riveting read.

A Place At The Table: The Gay Individual in American Society

Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society

Auth: Bruce Bawer,
Pub: Touchstone / Simon & Shuster

The title is a quotation from a speech of Bill Clinton’s, made when he was looking to be President of the USA, the “table” being a homely representation of American society. The allusion leads to some strained images in this book. Bawer claims that Gays should sit at the table, as a matter of course: we belong there. One’s instinct is to wonder if a working-class black lesbian in Missouri “belongs” at the table in same way as Bawer. But that’s too easy: let’s try an upper middle class sophisticated Manhattanite, working in a media/arts environment (like Mr Bawer and his “companion” Christopher), who happened to be Jewish and lesbian. Would she be sure of a welcome at this metaphorical table?

Bruce Bawer iSean Anglo-Catholic professional, virtually married (and best wishes to him), youngish, healthy man who has moved all the way from a bourgeois bit of the Bronx to Manhattan. He dutifully refers to lesbians two or three times in this 251-page tract, but appears to spend most of his time in the company of (ostensibly) heterosexual, or other Gay, men. He is a happy (or at least comfortable) member of an identifiable Gay sub-culture. He claims that he, and the other “non-strident” types are the “mainstream.” – unlike the Gay sub-culture. The latter consists of eyerything distasteful, from leftist Gay political acthists to effeminate men, leather types, bar- and bath-house owners. That there are enormous contradictions between and amongst these groups does not deter him. By the end of the book, admittedly, his attitudes are more muffled and complex.

Bawer criticises elements of public, confrontational politics. and seems to be claiming that it is always counter-productive. (Here again he pulls his punches towards the end of the text. In some of the cases he cites, it might have been wiser to have taken a different tack; but, by the same token, he seems not to have engaged in the lobbying/letter-writing/petition gathering and signing end of Gay (or any other) politics. These organisations which he has the effrontery to sneer at, almost certainly (as well as Queer Nation, Act-Up, ILoo etc) also write letters to the Gay and non-Gay press, the Mayor, the President – you name it (the Pope?).

If this book were a piece of music, it would be described as ‘through composed,’ meaning the composer started at the beginning and continued steadily to the end. (This may sound silly, but lots of music – and writing – is made up of bitSeand bobs bundled together by authorial bailer-twine). It seems to have been something of a journey of self-discovery: Bruce Bawer huffSeand puffs about the Gay sub-culture from the very start. He’s still at it by the end of the book, where he claims that he and his friends are embarrassed by (and ashamed of) the Pride demonstration. (One gets the impression that he thinks that that stooshie outside a certain low-life bar in the Village (Greenwich, not Linfield) on June 28, 1969, and subsequent nights, would be best forgotten.

Mr Bawer has a pitch from where he watches the Pride march. He duly notes his distaste for drag queens (and drag kings, these days, probably), the leather ladies of both genders (the only consistently polite people on any Gay scene), and NAMBLA (the North American Man/Boy Love Association). Of the latter, he appears to be as contemptuous of their advanced year (and the smallness of their contingent) as of their sexuality.

He does not note the lesbian and gay parents, PFLAG (ParentSeand Friends of fairy folk), SAGE (elder fairies), the military veteranSeand polis, the enormous ethnic diversity, mar shampla: handsome Portuguese chaps in kilts, the sheer – well – gaiety of the whole proceedings. Does Bruce actually want platoons of chapSeand chap-esses in drab ‘business suits’ walking along the Great White Way? Surely not – has he missed the carnivalesque buzz and good cheer? Given his critique, has he even heard of New Orleans? Mardi Gras? How about St Patrick’s Day in his native city – it is hardly a model of religious sobriety, in any sense ofthe terms.

Bruce is also in awe of the products of Ivy League colleges. He recounts conversations with fellow Tory intellectuals, and seems shocked, still, at their anti-Gay bigotry. If the person speaking had been a longshoreman or a machinist, and not a “professor of Philosophy at Harvard” he’d have spotted it on the instant. It is page 113 before he uses the word ‘bigot’ to refer to William J Buckley (a nasty bit of work). Ethan Morrden, in Christopher Street magazine, once wondered why all of Buckley’s Conservative Party faction were camp and/or (as he put it) ‘eunuchoid.’ That they were, to a man, ‘fruits in suits’ was generally understood.

As a lapsed Stalinist, I could take great exception to, probably, most of this book. When Bruce produces yet another exasperated, elementary school teacher put-down of the activists, one tends to think: “Well, what were you doing, mate?” But that’s too easy. This book is worth reading, aSean indication of what an intelligent, compassionate person has been forced by circumstance to think about his position in society. He is a privileged person, but also a member of a hated minority (especially hated by those whose political and social views he shares).

The circumstances in question include the deep-entryism into the Republican Party by fundamentalist, creationist fanatics. Some of these want to make the Holiness Code in Leviticus the law of the land. The dreadful effects of Reagan-omics, which helped make America’s AIDS problem into a genocidal disaster, and the New World Order, under which America has no countervailing power to keep her in check, are also part of the circumstances.

Bruce will (probably) not be joining Act-Up actions for a while yet. But maybe by 1999 he and Christopher, in their whistle’n’ flutes, will stride manfully, possibly even hand in hand, behind a tastefully appliqued banner in the Big Apple’s Pride.

A Place At The Table was written for Bruce Bawer’s fellow conservatives: they won’t read it. But it is required reading for all Gay people. Bruce can’t bring himself to write it, but he implicitly accepts (well before the end of his book) that the acthists/liberationists got it right.

[Anonymous]

The Farewell Symphony

The Farewell Symphony

Auth: Edmund White

Pub: Penguin

This is a rather difficult review. The author claims to have had sex with over a thousand men. My worry is – how did he remember all the details so clearly?

Starting in the 1960Seand coming up to the present day, action takes place in New York, Rome and Paris. Sometimes the author had three different men in a week. Now and again he falls in love and the alliance lasts a few months.

Then AIDs cam along, and one friend after another died. He is now HIV positive. The author writes well. He wrote six books before one was accepted. Two that have been published are ‘A Boys Own Story’ and ‘The Beautiful Room is Empty’, both worth reading.

He has been a teacher of writing in Columbia.

I did get a bit tired of one tumble after another, but I enjoyed the book.

[AELFRIC]

Different Friends

by: Rhodri Jones

This book is obviously written for an adolescent audience, with a below average reading age!

It is set in a multi-cultural Town. The main characters living at home or just ‘moving’ away, and coming to terms with being out in the big bad real world. We have a hodge podge of mixed problems – parents, being gay, drugs, you name it and it seems to get hit; but it doesn’t seem to be dealt with in depth.

The main character, Jeff, is just out of sorts with his parentSeand with life. He is not gay, but his best friend Azhar, with whom he loses touch, is.

I don’t want to write much more about this book, except to say, that anyone with average reading skills, will not find it challenging, or really exciting.

Prince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld

Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence & Avondale

By:Eddy Aronson

Pub: John Murray Pubs Ltd (June 1995)

This hardback book has 246 pages, including indexes. In the ‘prologue’ it refers to a 1970 article which suggests that ‘Jack the Ripper’ was almost certainly Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. Allied to this is the author’s conjecture that the Prince was also heavily involved in the ‘Cleveland Street Scandal’ (a notorious homosexual brothel case of the day), [Edward Samuel Wesley de Cobain, MP for Belfast, East, was involved in the affair].

That is the background for the book, however, having read it twice, I have to say with honesty that the author in my mind has filed to prove either supposition. Indeed the fabric around the Jack the Riper case and the Prince only deserves mention on approximately 26 pages, and the Cleveland Street case hardly at all! The author concentrates on Lord Arthur Somerset, his part in the latter case, his escape, who helped him and what happened to him afterwards – to my mind he has not proved that the Prince was involved at all.

This is a book that reads like a thesis for a University course. It is dry, un-intriguing, full of conjecture, and all in all not one that I can recommend. The only possible redeeming factors are the photos of the Prince, who was extremely handsome man; and also the line drawings of the other characters in the two stories.

The publishers make reference to Aronson’s previous ‘wonderful’ biographies (The King in Love – King Edward VII’s Mistresses, Napoleon and Josephine and Heart of a Queen – Queen Victoria’s Attachments) – I have not read any of these, and if this book is representative of his tyle, I will not be doing so.

[Terry McFarlane]

Affairs in Northern Ireland

This article was written in March 2006 by PA Mag Lochlainn for the magazine ‘ICON’ (Northern Ireland’s Gay Publication)

We in the LGBT community of Northern Ireland are engaged, willingly or not, in a perpetual struggle for our rights. American homophobes claim that “the gay lobby” seeks special rights: in fact, it is they who already have such rights, with their huge stake in press, radio and television worldwide, their unfettered access to schools where they persist in teaching lies about uSeand even the presumption that ‘any homphobe wearing a white collar must be more truthful than me – because I wear no such uniform’.

I pray that ICON will shine the light of truth above this tide of mis-information.

No-one has so far discovered any evidence that children are born homophobic (although there is some fascinating work from nursery classes that seem to show boys excluding the child who later turns out to be gay), and it is utter nonsense to talk about being born a Christian or a fundamentalist.

It is quite clear taht children are taught what to expect from boySeand girls, or from PortestantSeand Catholics. There is no room in this cosy world for little lesbians or gay boys. You have only to read the “problem pages” or the agony aunts to see the panic when Junior prefers pink, or Jane plays with tractors.

Strangely enough, we do appear to be born lesbian or gay. Wolfenden reported (back in the 1950s!) that children exhibited signs of minority sexuality from the earliest age which researchers could measure. As teenagers, all too many of us recall our frantic efforts to conform to heterosexuality. I never know whether to snigger or sob when I hear some (usually self-appointed) expert proclaiming that we are “sodomites” only because we deliberately chose to make ourselves so!

The struggle to present the truth about our community, in the teeth of such powerful propaganda, and is a long and arduous one. Nevertheless, many of us engage in this struggle, simply because we have no alternative. Never forget the wisdom of the slogan “Silence = Death“.

We can (and often do) disagree about what the wisest course of action is in this or that situation. What we must not do is to allow ourselves to be split into factions, which our enemies can then play of against one another. Only when united, can we stand: once divided, we shall fall. Let us by all means debate and discuss within our own groupSeand publications the way to tackle our many enemies. Our movement has a good record already of working through consensus: that is the only way forward.

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]