Editorial - take pride
News - reports & investigations
Otton On... - the abominable homoseshual
Ogg's View - high-horse
The Nice Bit - riding a bicycle
Letters - your views in print
International - news from around the world
Reviews - toys & books & theatre & film
Music - Joy DJ Alan's latest chart
ScotsDyke - interviewing a practicing policedyke
Pride in London is to be an all ticket affair this year - and you'll have to pay for that ticket too!
A far cry from the annual march that used to attract but a few thousand souls who trudged briskly through London insulting police ("2-4-6-8 - is that policeman really straight?") and public alike before heading to the University of London Union for a massive party and outrageous orgy in the swimming pool showers.
The organisation was so informal that, one year, I found myself having to pacify the police commander as the organiser, with whom I was staying, hadn't arrived (having not managed to struggle out of bed) and the march was somewhat late in starting. The police physiognomy (shining from soap like a star in astronomy) had to be seen to be believed when Greyum eventually materialised in a full nun's outfit!
But such a small turnout was lamentable and a more organised approach made numbers swell over the years so that Pride became the biggest free festival in Europe and a victim of its own success. From being a home brew with a few friends turning up to play a gig, it turned into a monster with a focus of popular loud noise culture which attracted rubber necking straights in large numbers and managed to alienate rather a lot of gay people into the bargain (myself included).
Now the whole thing has become a business (albeit not, in the case of last year, a very successful one!).
That's why it's so nice to see that Pride Scotland, whilst running things in a very businesslike and professional manner, has managed to retain the informality that makes the whole Pride experience so worthwhile.
To be honest, London Pride has become a chore for me - Pride Scotland is a pleasure! And, this year, we can look forward to all these "straight" footie fans in the tent next door - a perfect target for some of our more robust queens who will, I'm sure manage to give them (and us) a day out to remember. As well as probably taking a few of the more bi-curious ones home for a night in that they'll remember even longer!
Pride Scotland '98 will take place in Glasgow on June 13th. The March will set off from Blythswood Square at Noon and the Festival will take place on Glasgow Green next to the People's Palace.
It has recently been announced that Scottish Brewers will be operating "The Tartan Tent" a special marquee with large screen coverage of World Cup Soccer Matches. This event will run from June 11th for the duration of the World Cup.
Pride Scotland are in contact with the organisers and feel that because of the opposite orientation of the entrances to the events, the relatively low key matches being played and the difference in start times, there won't be much interaction between the two events.
According to Pride: "The Tartan Tent is further East than the Pride Scotland site and so the Pride Scotland March will not go past the site. Additionally, to comply with City of Glasgow Council licensing regulations, all alcohol outlets are required to have perimeter fencing around sites where alcohol is bought and consumed. Both Pride Scotland and the organisers of the Tartan Tent will be erecting a perimeter fence around their site areas."
"Pride Scotland; Scottish Brewers, the organisers of The Tartan Tent event; Strathclyde Police and the City of Glasgow Council will continue to be in close contact over all health and safety matters that may arise out of the proximity of the two sites. It is our joint primary concern that all possible measures are taken to ensure the safety of the festival goers."
"As in previous years, the police will be kept informed of the arrival time of the March and the time of the end of the Festival. It is felt that on site security will, if anything, as a result of the perimeter fencing, be better than previous years."
For the second year running, Glasgow based designer Jon Jardine has come up with an outstanding design for the Pride Scotland logo. Combining a traditional celtic knotwork design with the universal rainbow colours - emblematic of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride - the new logo beautifully represents the unity, diversity and inter-connection that the Pride movement represents worldwide. This is particularly relevant this year as Pride Scotland is joined by Amnesty International in an initiative that highlights a "World Without Prejudice".
The Government has amended the Scotland Bill to extend the equal opportunities powers of the Scottish Parliament to cover equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. The amendment follows a three month campaign coordinated by the Equality Network, the Edinburgh-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campaign group.
The new amendment allows the Scottish Parliament to encourage equal opportunities much more widely. The definition of equal opportunities written into the Bill is extended to explicitly include "sexual orientation". "Age, language and social origin" have also been added. At the same time, the powers of the new Parliament are extended so that it can work to encourage all kinds of equal opportunities. Without this new amendment, the Parliament was limited to working to discourage discrimination only on grounds of gender, race and, to some extent, disability.
Under the new amendment, the Scottish Parliament will still not be able to make anti-gay or other discrimination illegal; that power is reserved to Westminster. The new Parliament's encouragement of equal opportunities is limited to methods that do not involve prohibition or regulation.
In February, amendments drawn up by the Equality Network to improve the Parliament's equality powers were tabled by a cross-party group of MPs including Roseanna Cunningham and Alex Salmond of the SNP, Jim Wallace (Scottish Lib Dem leader) and Malcolm Chisholm (former Labour minister). This was a rare example of Scotland Bill amendments supported by members from all three Parliamentary parties. On March 31st, the amendments were debated, and the Government conceded on key points.
Keith Cowan of the Equality Network said, "We welcome the Government's movement on this issue. We would rather have seen the Parliament given real legislative muscles to ban discrimination, as our amendments proposed, but we have won a significant part of what we wanted. We also asked for `gender identity' to be included explicitly in the definition of equal opportunities, but unfortunately the Government rejected that. We now need to work to ensure that the new Parliament uses its powers to the full to start delivering equality for LGBT people across a wide range of laws and institutions."
He continued, "The Equality Network applauds and thanks all those people and groups who lobbied the Scottish Office on this issue - this shows what can be done by working together across the LGBT communities, and with other equality constituencies, such as race equality and disability groups, who also supported the amendments."
Introducing the changes to the Scotland Bill in the House of Commons, Henry McLeish, Devolution Minister, said, "[The new amendment] makes it clear that the Parliament will be able to discourage discrimination on the grounds of a person's age, sexual orientation, language or social origin ... we recognise that people can suffer discrimination on those grounds, especially sexual orientation."
He added, "The Parliament and Executive will be able to create and implement their own equal opportunities policies. They will be able to encourage equal opportunities by exhorting and giving guidance to public authorities and others to adopt equal opportunities policies, running advertising campaigns and setting up an advisory committee. They will be able to seek to influence the development of equal opportunities legislation in Westminster."
The Equality Network is continuing its campaign to ensure that a commitment to equality is part of the foundation of the Scottish Parliament by preparing a submission to the constitutional steering group which is drawing up proposals for the Scottish Parliament's standing orders. The submission will propose the establishment of an Equality Committee at the Parliament, and a regular national LGBT Forum to make proposals to the Parliament about legislative changes needed to deliver equality for Scotland's LGBT people.
The draft proposals have been widely circulated for comment, both within the LGBT communities, and to other equality groups. Copies are available from: Equality Network, 58a Broughton St, Edinburgh, EH1 3SA. Tel: 07020 933 952. WWW: http://www.diversity.org.uk/equality E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anti-gay posters have been flyposted around Edinburgh recently and ScotsGay can reveal that one of the people behind them is born again Christian and "ex-homosexual" John `Clay' Garner, the son of NorFrost owner Pat Grant OBE.
He was recently arrested and charged in connection with an alleged flyposting incident in Princes Street and claims that an arresting officer called him "a fascist and a bigot".
Clay told ScotsGay, "The reason behind the posters is to make people aware and to educate people to what homosexuals practice. As committed Christians, we love and have compassion towards all because Jesus never condemned. He always loved and that is why he went to the Cross for our sins."
We put it to him that, in view of his many years' experience as an active homosexual he must be aware that the `statistics' on the poster just weren't true. Nevertheless, he confirms his belief in the figures, refuses to reveal their source but will give no reason.
He is quick to state that his multi-millionaire mother has nothing to do with his current campaign. "I've changed from being a homosexual because I've realised homosexuality is a pointless existence and that God's love is not a quick fix like homosexuality", he says.
"Christians are sick and tired of the Devil and all his chums having it their own way. We need a clean up of society and all the perverts, abortionists, drug abusers and pædophiles."
"In every day of my life, I'm in great emotional pain. I would love to go to bed with a man. That's what it's cost me just to turn and walk away. We all need that physical and loving relationship. I had a vision a few days ago of Jesus, bleeding from his wounds onto people and crying out for them to turn away from their sins and that caused me great pain."
He asks us to print his phone number (0131-554 3986) on which he will, no doubt, dispense his crackpot brand of advice for people with "psychosexual disorders".
Ewan from the Evangelical Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Christians told ScotsGay, "There are many people in the gay community who are also Christians and they would take a somewhat different view to that expressed by Clay. People who are gay and Christian do not subscribe to much of the `theory' expounded and would suggest that there are other ways of looking at scripture apart from the traditional fundamentalist way. Anyone looking for support and/or information on being gay and Christian can find different sources in the listings in your magazine."
A spokesperson for Edinburgh Freethinkers said, "We disapprove of Clay's views and wish it to be known that our God (who now has his own E-mail account: email@example.com) supports all forms of deviation (especially those practiced by members of the Ffestiniog Railway)".
The sale of the Edinburgh Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Centre, the oldest in the UK, has been delayed following problems discovered by solicitors handling the transaction.
The Centre was due to be sold by current owners OUTRIGHT Scotland to a new Charity who will own and run the building for the community. But now, it appears that vital plans have gone missing from Edinburgh Council's offices - it's claimed that they were destroyed by a homophobic former employee.
Whilst the plans can be replaced, this will take time and the original April date for the handover has had to be delayed.
Jessie Devlin FEIS, a staunch heterosexual supporter of lesbigay rights for many years and Patron of OUTRIGHT Scotland, sadly died on 25th February.
ScotsGay's Internet Web Site at http://www.scotsgay.co.uk/ has just recorded its 100,000th visitor. The text of the magazine is also sent out by e-mail to over 5,000 readers throughout the world each issue.
One of Edinburgh's oldest gay venues, the Linden Hotel (formerly the Nelson Hotel) has closed, been sold and is likely to be converted into flats. Former manager Tony Carrigan intends to re-open the Thai restaurant in the old Star of Bengal premises at the Haymarket.
As part of the transfer of HIV/AIDS services from Ruchill Hospital to Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow, Drop In Centre `The Haven' has moved to 36 Shelley Court beside the Brownlee Centre.
Club Xs, Kirkcaldy's only gay venue, has closed after operating for only a few weeks following the pub's owner going out of business. Promoter Jamie Taylor is actively seeking new premises.
OUTRIGHT Scotland's AGM is to be held on 9th May in the Quaker Meeting House, 38 Elmbank Street, GLASGOW at 2.30.pm. Guest speaker will be Kay Carmichael.
To celebrate nearly five years of Joy, resident DJ Alan Joy has organised a massive party. It will be held in Studio 24 (formerly The Calton), Joy's first venue and will take place on Saturday 9th May. Entry is free until 12.30am for Joy members.
The old GPO building in Edinburgh was the site for `Under The Duvet', a fund raiser for Names Project (UK) on Saturday 11th April. It brought together Edinburgh's most popular dance clubs for an evening of loud noise and jollification.
Gay TV (the satellite station for insomniacs and VCR owners) may be filming in Scotland soon. For the Dial-a-dare segment of their Friday night "Gay Nightcalls", their dishy presenter has been dared to go up to Loch Ness, dive in in a kilt, come out and show everyone his Loch Ness Monster Cock! Dial 0990 160160 for details.
DJ Stella has teamed up with DJ Alan Joy to launch a weekly mixed club night called Mars at Tin Pan Alley in Glasgow. Maiden voyage on Friday 1st May is free (usual fare £5).
A Gay Scotland photographer was recently mugged in Edinburgh on his way to pick up the camera to cover a story. According to Editor-in-Chief Paul Ivison, "At least they didn't get the camera".
Healthy Gay Scotland's Info Unit was officially opened by Jim Whannel, Phace West Chair on Wednesday 15th April in Glasgow. Situated in the GGLC, it is open Noon-2pm Mon-Fri.
ScotsGay On Disk: The text from ScotsGay and InsideOUT is available free of charge to visually impaired readers on 3.5" or 5.25" computer disk in IBMPC format. We will be glad to add you to our mailing list if you send your name and address (and disk size required) to us at: SOD, ScotsGay, PO Box 666, Edinburgh. EH7 5YW. We hope shortly to be able to provide disks in MAC format.
Garry Otton, the first Western journalist to interview gays in Tibet, continues his search for gay men living under the yoke of Chinese rule. In our last issue, Garry finally managed to arrange a meeting with a "homo-seshual"...
Lobsang suggested bringing his "homo-seshual" friend, Tsering, to the hotel where I was staying in Lhasa, but after spotting the cameras in the lobby, I didn't want to take any chances. We arranged to meet the following afternoon outside the gates of the Norbulingka Park. These are the gardens of the Summer Palace from where the Dalai Lama made his impromptu escape into exile at a few minutes before 10pm, 19th March, 1959, when the Chinese began shelling Lhasa. When I arrived, Lobsang was sitting in the shade of a willow tree looking downcast. His friend, Tsering, the "homo-seshual" had not turned up. Lobsang implored me to let him try again the following evening.
I was up before sunrise the next day, quietly sitting on Thieves Island with my water-colours, trying to paint the Potala as the sun rose up over the mountains behind me. A Chinese motorcyclist drove by, stopping a little way up the dusty road, watching me through his rear-view mirror. Later that afternoon, lit by hundreds of flickering butter-lamps, I was led round the dark, musty corridors of the Jokhang temple before I jumped on a rickshaw and headed back to the hotel lobby to greet Lobsang. He looked quite flustered. He couldn't find Tsering, the "homo-seshual" anywhere. He had met up with him at his usual watering-hole the previous evening, but one drink had turned to another, and he had staggered home drunk. Nobody had seen him since. "Where does he drink?" I asked, otherwise preparing to settle for the discovery of a Tibetan gay bar. Lobsang described it as a restaurant. A gay restaurant, then and pushed Lobsang into a taxi. We turned up at a dark candlelit shack, a mile or so away from the Potala. Half a dozen Tibetans were sitting round tables, drinking by candlelight. My eyes met a craggy-faced yak herdsmen-type in a shabby suit and hair like Jo Brand. I returned his smile. From a dark corner a young man in tight denim trousers sashayed up to our table and spoke to Lobsang in Tibetan. Gays instinctively recognise each other, don't they? Although he looked about 15, Tish was an alcoholic 23-year-old and a close friend of Tsering the "homo-seshual." I clocked the bitten fingernails and nervous giggle and asked him if he ever had a boyfriend. Lobsang blew the plot and told Tish I wanted to know if he was a "homo-seshual." This is an insult in Tibet. He might just as well have asked him if he was a murderer! Tish was horrified. He shook his head and looked down at his drink in embarrassment.
I had brought with me some international gay-lifestyle magazines, including Attitude, and - rather carelessly - passed them round for everyone to see. The air was filled with gasps, guffaws and loud exclamations. A couple of females ran around enthusiastically drawing everyone's attention to a boy-babe pin-up. Once Lobsang had established my credentials to the curious, food was rushed to our table whilst someone was dispatched to search for Tsering the "homo-seshual." Following Lobsang's example, I rolled up the tsampa (barley flour) in my left hand and dipped it in the bowl of yak meat momos (ravioli). In between mouthfuls, I sipped hot yak butter tea from a cup which the Tibetans have an annoying habit of repeatedly refilling. I thought, if they didn't stop, they would get my Linda Blair impression, covering them in rancid, half-digested, yak butter puke. Yak butter is not to everyone's taste! At best it is like a broth, but can be very salty, occasionally with the addition of a few yak hairs.
Before I finished my meal, Lobsang said Tish was going to take us in the taxi to find Tsering. Expressing much regret at not being able to finish my yak butter tea, we drove to another part of old Lhasa and stopped outside a long staircase leading to a flat above some Chinese shops. Tsering wasn't at home. We stopped further up the road at another bar. He wasn't there, either. Before we had a chance to drive off, a large Tibetan woman called Dolma in shocking pink-rock lipstick and blue eye-shadow stormed out, waving to us to come in. "Tsering is coming!" she yelled in Tibetan. Dolma ushered us into the dark, candlelit interior and sat us at a table amongst another small, mixed group of Tibetans drinking beer. After a few minutes, the door opened, and Tsering walked in with a gay friend. Tsering was a slim 25-year-old in tight-fitting dungarees and a white polo-neck. His shock of black hair fell over his face meeting his dark, neat, plucked eyebrows. Tsering spoke no English, but politely introduced me to his shy, 29-year-old friend, Buchung. Somehow, word had got round that I was "helping Tibetans" and with something approaching haste, Dolma bustled us through a curtain flap into a tiny room at the back. I handed the gay magazines, bulging with the affluence of western gay culture, to Tsering and Buchung. Half a dozen or so other interested Tibetans craned their necks to see. Only Tsering and Buchung turned the pages in total silence. I explained to them how I wanted people in the West to know how Tibetan gays lived. Tsering looked at me with piercing dark eyes and said in Tibetan: "I would love to be free to come and tell you."
Tsering knocked back his beer. The strain of gay life in Tibet takes its toll. Alcohol abuse is common. I wanted to know what Tsering thought of the habit of men and boys holding hands in Tibet? He gave me a knowing smile. "They love each other. Of course. That is why they do it." I advised him that the Dalai Lama had spoken out in support of homosexual relationships during a tour of Sweden in the summer of 1996, saying: "There are no acts of love between adults that one can or should condemn." I discretely produced a picture of the Dalai Lama from my pocket. Tourists have been arrested for showing his picture. The penalties to Tibetans found in possession of one are even more severe. "Do you know what is the greatest prize in the world anyone can be awarded?" I asked, making wide gestures to emphasis my point. "It is called the Nobel Peace Prize. And the Dalai Lama has been awarded that prize." In a touching ceremony, Tsering held the picture to his forehead and passed it round for everyone to do the same. Tears filled their eyes. It would have been callous to mention the Dalai Lama's remarks in his book Beyond Dogma where he described some gay sex acts as "sexual misconduct improper" and "inappropriate." In 1997, my experiences in Tibet appeared for the first time in Attitude. Following its publication, a statement was issued by the Dalai Lama's office: "His Holiness was greatly concerned by reports made available to him regarding violence and discrimination against gay and lesbian people. His Holiness opposes violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation. He urges respect, tolerance, compassion, and the full recognition of human rights for all." He went on to issue a statement that urged further study of human sexuality by Buddhists with a view to arriving at a new interpretation of Buddhist scripture.
For Tibetans, Buchung and Tsering were well dressed. Selling your body for sex is easy in Lhasa. The extent of prostitution amongst gay men in Tibet might, in part, be explained by the attitudes to homosexuality here. Although Tsering had been with his boyfriend for eight years, he had frequently operated as a rent-boy, but was keen to express with indignation that he had never slept with Chinese. "Never!" Tsering assured me there were no gays bars, as such, in Lhasa. "That would be too dangerous." He claimed to know 18 other gays, and would be happy for me to meet them all if I had more time. "We meet in each others houses." Like Britain in the fifties. But then I remembered Lobsang telling me how, for Tibet, the clock had stopped at a few minutes before 10pm on 19th March, 1959 when the Dalai Lama fled into exile. As a mark of protest, and much to the annoyance of the Chinese, Tibetans keep stopping the clocks at that time.
I wanted to know how Tsering and Buchung met guys. "We go out to bars and discos looking for Smart Guys," said Buchung. Smart Guys? I was left juggling with a mental picture of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. "Guys dressed to impress... Going out to pick up... Looking for sex Smart Guys." With the Tibetan beer kicking in, I asked Tsering if Smart Guys liked to fuck him. They did. Without condoms? Yes. But usually just ejaculating between his legs. Both he and Buchung had occasional run-ins with the Public Security Bureau. Tsering admitted to having been arrested on a number of occasions. "I am not afraid," he said. "They just let me go. Sometimes I dress up, in clothes of a woman. I do not do that now. It is too dangerous. It is much harder now. I would be punished severely." Everyone agreed that the authorities treat Tibetans roughly. Tsering lifted his head to show me a fading bruise. "Smart Guy," he said, pointing to his eye. The life of a gay Tibetan was indeed very hard.
Suddenly, the curtain separating us from the rest of the bar was pulled open and two Chinese men in suits burst in. In clipped English, one said to me sharply: "Can I be of assistance? I speak English." My reporter's notepad slipped between my legs onto the floor. The informers had been busy. I explained a little helplessly how I wanted to find homosexuals. "There are no homosexuals in Tibet " he said brusquely, whilst his comrade flicked through a copy of Out. "It is a Western disease." I nodded, pretending he was making sense. Only Lobsang understood him, but everyone else knew why he was here. I was a foreigner. Tibetans have only recently been allowed to talk to us. "This does not happen in Tibet," he said again, laughing at the pictures. "You won't see any here." Tsering sat bolt upright in his chair. "I am a homosexual," he said proudly. "And I am Tibetan." It was the perfect delivery. Only a true queen could do it. I was waiting for the cheers, but there was only a timid silence before one of the Chinese shook his head and laughed. "I tell you. There are no homosexuals in Tibet." To everyone's relief, he left through the curtain flap, dismissing Tsering with a wave of his hand. "He is no good. He is mad. That man is crazy."
Thankfully, without any experience or history of gay activism in Tibet, these officials had no reason to take us seriously. As far as they were concerned, we were all crazy. They might do these strange things in the West, but only a madmen would attempt them in Tibet. I handed Tsering and Buchung a parcel of clothes, before everyone hurriedly left through the curtain flap back into the main bar.
As we escaped into the street, I caught sight of a group of soldiers marching toward us and froze. Like so much of the People's Liberation Army, they were just teenagers. They filed past us as I climbed into a battered taxi. Tsering ran up to me and squeezed my hand through the open window, he had had a chance to inspect the collection of western clothes and tried to say "thank you" in broken English.
Early next morning four of us, including a driver and official guide set off by road across the Himalayas on the same route out of Lhasa the Dalai Lama took when he fled Tibet. The crumbling roads became more and more treacherous as we climbed to 18,000 feet above sea level. Somewhere, high on the mountain pass and in the dead of night, we broke down. The electrics had packed up on the Land Rover and we had no lights. I had been trying to sleep under an old yak skin, but now had to hang out of the window shining a torch to light the way. Himalayan nights are eerie. It is the sheer vastness of it all. I have never before seen so many stars in the sky. The Land Rover trundled slowly forward, following a light too dim to expose the sheer drop on the side of the mountain. We finally reached a hostel at the side of the road and were offered a small outhouse to sleep. I was very tired. Although I didn't suffer altitude sickness as bad as some, I fell into an uneasy sleep and my dreams became muddled and strange.
The next morning I took a welcome bath in hot springs. I couldn't help noticing how the Tibetans quickly cover themselves when bathing near strangers. I know for a fact they harbour no such prudery amongst themselves. At the side of the road I caught sight of a group of Tibetan men swimming in a lake. Not only were they completely naked, one man lay on top of another in full view of any passing trucks.
Along the way, if bridges had collapsed in the monsoon rains, we just plunged the vehicle into raging torrents until the water splashed over the bonnet and poured in through the doors to reach the other side. Eventually, we were stopped by a serious landslide and had to admit defeat. We abandoned the Land Rover at the side of the road and bribed a truck driver to take us as far as he could to the border.
It wasn't all such hard going. On the way, I met a group of young, celibate monks who talked to me about life in a monastery. After some initial shyness, they admitted that some monks got sex "between the legs." But not any of them, of course! This peculiar practice conveniently circumvents actual penetration of a hole, which Buddhists see as a clear contravention of their vows. The information cost me a small short-wave radio which I am pleased to say will give them the chance to hear something besides the infernal propaganda delivered by those ubiquitous Chinese Tannoys. Perhaps news that their God-king is returning to a free Tibet and Tsering is hoisting the Freedom flag - that is to say, everyone's freedom - from the highest point in the world.
© Garry Otton 1996
Certain changes have been made to protect the lives of individuals. ScotsGay also had photographs of the Tibetans featured in this article, but decided that it was too dangerous to publish them, even in a doctored fashion, such is the likelihood of imprisonment, torture, punishment and death in Tibet.
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Easter weekend 1998 taught me a few things about bigotry and inbred intolerance.
Who would have believed that the fear and suspicion of centuries could begin to be healed in Northern Ireland in our lifetimes?
On Good Friday 1998, the most dramatic political development of our recent lives took place with the signing of the Stormont agreement in Belfast. Men, who only a few years before would literally have killed each other as soon as look at each other, sat down together and resolved upon working together for peace respecting in their own words "each others diverse cultural traditions".
No-one suggests that everything is now a garden of roses over there, but we have all learned that decency can, with a good wind and good luck, prevail over the darker wickedness of Man.
So far so good. Now enter The News of The World.
That very Easter Sunday, when every other British (and most foreign) newspapers were leading on page one with this wonderful news the NOTW was leading with an altogether different story about bigotry, George Michael In The Park. The whole front page was a single grainy paparazzi style photo of George bare-chested lying on the grass, well, sunbathing (gasp!) in, like, the park (double gasp!!) That was the news that day for them (the story had broken three days earlier with his arrest, but it took the press a couple of day's bidding to get the pics).
As if you didn't know, their take on the so-called `scoop' was that George had been nicked for cottaging, it wasn't his first time cruising that particular loo and, well, wasn't it just terrible that he's: a) gay; b) gay and has been lying about it; c) gay and rich and hanging about in lavvies; d) closeted and sad and perverted like all the rest of these queers ?
The gutter press, and a few allegedly serious papers to boot, enjoyed various permutations of the above list of scandals, employing some celebrated gays to put the boot in too, most notably Boy George, showing all the solidarity of a vulture circling a wounded buffalo. Boy George, like a number of other politically correct pundits lamented that the real scandal was that he was gay for years and never came clean, he should have done and he did us all a disservice (including himself) by not coming out ages ago. There was a rather self righteous, holier than thou, serves you right you jaded queen, she got her come-uppance feel about the published gay reaction. And all this , for those who adore irony, on Easter Sunday. T.F.M.
So just to introduce a little sanity into the "Lessons to be Learned" debate, let's get a few home truths out in the open.
Firstly, show me a gay guy who hasn't ever cruised in a loo and I'll show you a dirty low down economiser with the truth, (come on now, think back). Secondly, each of us came to a decision to come out (or not) at a point in our lives ordained by the unique personal circumstances each of us faced or faces.
For some it was hard, even harsh. For others it was easy, even career making (especially when most of your decisions were informed by the effects of consumption of massive quantities of hard drugs). For very few was the presence of money or success the thing which made it easier to be out than in. Most of us are out because we have suffered terribly being in the closet and the process of coming out was ultimately the final chance to make a go of life and the love that's meant to be found in it. For a privileged few coming out was a purely political decision. Yet others were so inherently camp or effeminate they realised they may as well be hung for a sheep as well as a lamb, and came out to nobody's surprise or shock.
George Michael is not the first to be effectively `outed' by being done for cottaging, then thought, "fuck it, I may as well own up now". Thirdly, nobody but nobody has the right to dictate Coming Out Day to another person, the sole exception being the antigay politician who is in fact themself gay, yet acts to harm other gays. Whilst it is right for all of us who are out to encourage others to join us, let's remember the reason for doing so... it really is better to be out, life looks full of hope again, no more lying to those you love, feeling respected for who you really are, no more suicidal thoughts, love affairs with firm foundations, the relief, the freedom to say and be yourself, a manifesto in other words for full participation in your own life on your own terms.
We too often forget (due to an apparent obsession with the superficial on the gay scene) that each of us who came out made a courageous, wise, deep and life-affirming choice, the likes of which few people in society are ever faced with. We should perhaps be more upfront about just how bloody marvellous it was that we made that choice as well as how much it says of each of us as people, citizens, potential friends, lovers and colleagues.
There are millions of George Michaels out there, trying desperately to square their consciences with what they perceive are the dangers of coming out. Perhaps, like George Michael, some come from ethnic backgrounds where the disapproval of the family can be profoundly deeper and consequential than in many traditional Anglo-Saxon homes. This is particularly so for many Asian and Afro-Caribbean gays where close knit families have strong religious as well as cultural taboos about homosexuality, allowing no room for liberal exceptions for a particular case. More work by gay lobbyists is needed among all of the strands of our society if `gay liberation' is not in Britain to be reserved for the few.
I have argued in the past in these columns for more political and propaganda attention to be addressed to our working class estates (for want of a better term) and if proof was needed for the proposition the confidence and implicit approval with which the gutter press vilified George Michael proves my point exactly. If even he, with all the admitted advantages of wealth and success, feel he is still vulnerable to mass public hatred or disdain if he came out, it is up to us to learn the real political lessons from that, rather than sit on our high horses tut-tutting that he ought to have `owned up' sooner.
In Northern Ireland some pretty dreadful people have learned that tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity are worth taking risks for. It took them thousands of murders and ruined lives to learn that, dare I say, Biblical truth. If we who are out could remember back to the painful, fearful and lonely days in the closet we might connect better with the pain George Michael feels now and the pain our fellow gays feel daily in their millions. There remains a huge job for gay liberation to do in a devolved Scotland. The News of the World story teaches us that bigotry lies just below the surface, ever menacing, a silent gaoler and tormentor to those still in the closet. As someone once said
"Well there ain't no point in moving on
Until you've got somewhere to go
And the road that I have walked upon
Well, it filled my pockets
And emptied my soul
All those insecurities
That have held me down for so long
I can't say I've found a cure for these
But at least I know them
So they're not so strong."
Written and sung by some guy called George Michael as it happens, on an album called "Listen without Prejudice".
I distrust labels. I don't look at them. My flatmate fusses round supermarket cereal packets and bread wrappers in an attempt to eliminate some high fat this, genetically modified that or battery farmed other. All very worthy, but as a result I can afford three times as much food as he can. Food labels are misleading anyway. Companies package their food in order to sell their product, not to let on about what's really going inside. Gay men are also adept at hiding the contents. Dark lights and loud music in clubs ensure that half the time you can't even see the packaging, let alone talk to the product (be it chicken or mutton dressed as lamb or what ever).
We are all awash with misleading labels. When I was 15, I fell in love with a girl called Andrea. I was a shy white kid who was bullied a lot on account of being tall (only short people are bullies apparently), and she... a black slightly taller goddess. She fancied me rotten and we went out for a while. Short white racists would gang up on us and chant - well, not very nice labels. Another label kept me away from Andrea. I fancied men and desperately wanted to be gay. We split up and I ended up going out with a Born Again Christian girl so I didn't have to sleep with her.
Ten years later and I have a boyfriend. Yes - he's very well thank you, no - we don't plan on getting married. I also have a girlfriend. What do you mean you don't want to know? I suppose I have something to tell you. I am, like many others, a catflap, a fence sitter, and a bicycle. Not content on just packing fudge, I have diversified. Recently I tried to explain the life-style to my mum. She can't figure out why I can't make up my mind. "It's like crisps." I explained, not sure what I was going to say next, "I like cheese and onion, and salt n' vinegar... so I eat both." I had her there I thought. "Yes," she said after a moments deliberation, "one sure way of getting indigestion," she exclaimed triumphantly! We laughed for ages. I love my mum dearly, and I know she thinks the world of me, and is just trying to understand.
I wasn't surprised by her reaction as it's the same one bisexuals get from lesbians and gay men all the time. Gay men, who can be so misogynistic, tend to frown and ask, "how could you?", while some lesbians just run away, whilst others thump you. `Bisexual' of-course, is another label, and I hate it. What, I always muse, is the point of challenging notions of sexual identity just to slap another restricting label on it? Years ago at a Bi-conference at an Oprah style debate on identity, the assembled had a giggle trying to come up with an alternative word. Kate Fearnley (Oprah) sprinted from end to end of the room as people suggested some now forgotten word or another. An indicator of the problems bi-people have is that the best suggestion coming from this entertaining exercise was the term `nice'
ScotsGay welcomes letters from readers. They should be sent to: ScotsGay Letters, PO Box 666, Edinburgh EH7 5YW, fax them to: 0131-539 2999 or alternatively send them via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
5/9 Castle Wynd South
Derek Ogg is a man for whom I have the highest regard. Indeed I can think of few that I admire more but his article in issue 20 left me a little uncomfortable. Derek seems to suggest that the reason that young people become prostitutes is because they were abused as a child. It was not clear from the article whether this abuse was sexual or not but let us assume that it was both violent and sexual. From the limited research I have completed myself I have to say that this is simply not the case. That many prostitutes were and still are being abused is not in dispute but to suggest that is the primary reason far less the only reason is manifestly not true.
For many the reasons are far more prosaic. The most obvious is financial circumstance. Many see it is as a temporary means of getting out of the poverty trap. One could of course say that poverty is a form of abuse but that is clearly not what Derek meant.
I interviewed a number of prostitutes and ex-prostitutes about a year ago including Ruth Morgan-Thomas of Scot PEP and although a couple did talk about abuse when they were children most talked about being pissed off with the grind that is poverty. Some women with children who are demanding new trainers, sports strips indeed all the things that their school friends have think that this is an easy way of earning that money. Some others both men and women found themselves in temporary financial difficulties and thought that this was a way to solve their problem. For others there is a need to finance a drug habit which may or may not be related to abuse. For some it may simply seem to be an easy option.
The truth is of course that many of them found that it was not easy, that it was not always lucrative and that it was often dangerous and degrading. However some found that it was just that, a means of earning more cash. One girl I met said that she had arrived in the city found herself a job but simply could not earn enough money to have fun. Fun is an important commodity at any time in ones life but when one is young it seems essential. She read an advertisement and thought, "I think can do that", and indeed she could. For a while. She did have the fun she had hoped for. For a while. Unfortunately she always found the work difficult and ultimately she gave it up. Some, however did find it lucrative, worked at it for a while, sorted themselves out and moved on to something more socially acceptable.
This is not a claim that prostitution is an easy way out of a poverty trap. This is not a claim that prostitution should be promoted. Indeed most of the people I spoke to claimed that they would rather not have had to resort to it and some had serious regrets. The establishment has at best a disingenuous attitude towards prostitution. It is clear that prostitution is a demand led industry and the demand would often appear to come from members of the very establishment that vilifies it and legislates against it. As long as there is poverty there will be prostitution. As long as there is greed there will be prostitution. As long as there is sex there will be prostitution. That is the reality.
Derek Ogg writes about the, "underlying reason", singular, and that is my gripe, for Derek is a very precise man. There is no singular reason. There are many reasons but the greatest of them is financial need not sexual and violent abuse.
As for responsibility, prostitution is not defined by sexual orientation and neither is the responsibility for it. Society as a whole and the establishment in particular has a responsibility for most of the conditions that encourage so many to enter prostitution. As a gay community or collection of gay communities our responsibility is no greater and no less than any other part of society.
As for Derek"s claim that we need to improve our act and our presentation of
it, I believe that he is correct. The sooner the better frankly! It is worth pointing
out that Derek himself is an inspiring advocate (sic) of this very presentation. Stay
157b Princes Street
Dundee DD4 6DG
My God, what an awful place Dundee must be for gays and lesbians! With fights in our new club, Bibliotek; homophobia around every corner, I think I'll just stay in from now on.
Does Liquid Silk think he's smart putting down our new and struggling club, constantly putting down its management and staff - we've all got to start somewhere - give them a chance! This column seems to be so Liberty/Xs biased, I wonder whether Liquid Silk is receiving somthing "in kind" from the owner of Liberty/Xs?
The references made to Dundee Pride are outrageous and downright negative and damaging to the image of Dundee. I have lived here for over 3 years and have been part of the gay "scene" for as long, and I have never encountered any "Hiltoon Huns" or "Douglas Shams" looking for an excuse to bash me up. I haven't even heard any recent stories of gay attacks or trouble anywhere in the city. OK, it's not Glasgow or Edinburgh, and "Dundee Pride" may be a long way off, but there is no need to paint such an appalling picture of the city. This sort of article will deter people from coming out in the city and may also stop others from visiting from other areas. The idea that by being openly gay in Dundee wouuld result in a bashing or even in death is just plain stupid. I have been "out" at work for a long time (I work in a very large factory) and have received nothing but positive, tolerant attitudes. Yes, homophobia does exist, but it is getting better all the time. It just takes a bit of education! I think I know what I am talking about because I do voluntary work for Dundee LGB Switchboard and am in constant touch with other groups within the city.
Let's print something positive about our city instead of negative rubbish. Maybe Liquid Silk has had his day and can only see things from a very narrow and biased viewpoint. If he cannot be more favourable about other venues I don't think he should be writing this column. Does he not realise that competition is good for all - the customer and the "established" venues alike?
May I just add that I have absolutely nothing to do with Bibliotek and have nothing against Liberty/Xs or Devas, they are all doing a great job.
by Rex Wockner
Mariana Cetiner, the Romanian woman who spent two years in jail for "luring another woman into sexual intercourse," has issued a public thank you to those who fought for her release.
Cetiner was freed by presidential decree on March 18 after being adopted by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience.
The letter, dated April 1, reads: "I would like to thank all of you for being by my side. Thank you for your letters and I am sorry that I wasn't able to reply from prison. Now, being free, I will try to keep in touch with you.
"As for me, I can tell you that, with the help of Amnesty International, The Romanian Helsinki Committee and the lawyer Monica Macovei, I intend to take my case back to court, so that the truth comes out. ...
"At present, I do not have a house or a job. Due to the detention, it is very difficult to find, in general, any sort of support here. It seems that being a lesbian in Romania is worse than being a criminal. The detention affected me a lot. The beatings, the treatment in prison affected me. The reality is tough, but that's it.
"At present I am living in Sibiu, Romania, with a girlfriend the only person who offered to help and shelter me for a while. I need a lot of help for the moment and the ones who in the past expressed their intention to help me can do it now. If you want to send me letters or parcels please use the address below.
"I can receive funds in a bank account in Austria. I can withdraw money in Romania with a bank card. It is impossible to open my own bank account in Romania because I do not have an address here. Please send my gratitude and this letter to others who stood beside me and whose addresses I do not know."
Cetiner's address is Post restant 1, Sibiu 2400, Romania. Her telephone number is 00-40-69-445-408. Her bank-account information is: "Cont bancar pe numele Peter Opris, Raiffeisenbank Bischofshofen Austria, Cont nr. 00003036324, Card nr. 100254N."
There is no evidence that science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke is a pædophile, Sri Lankan Deputy Inspector General of Police M.S.M. Nizam has said.
In January, The Sunday Mirror newspaper quoted Clarke as saying: "Once they have reached the age of puberty it is O.K. ... It doesn't do any harm. ... I think most of the damage comes from the fuss made by hysterical parents afterwards. If the kids don't mind, it is fair enough. ... I am trying to think of the youngest boy I have ever had because, of course, you can't tell it here [in Sri Lanka where I live]."
"We are satisfied that he has not violated any Sri Lankan laws or committed any crime," Nizam said, noting that police interviewed three of the sources quoted in the Mirror story. "Two of them told us that they were given money to say what they allegedly said," Nizam said.
But, investigators are still waiting for "Interpol to help us get a copy of the taped interview one of [the Mirror's] journalists is supposed to have had with Clarke," Nizam added.
Clarke, 80, who has lived in Sri Lanka since 1956, denied the newspaper's report and said he will file a defamation lawsuit.
"I have done no wrong and I know I am going to win the case," he said.
Clarke wrote "2001: A Space Odyssey" and 80 other books. Sri Lanka, located off the southern tip of India, is well-known for easy access to commercial sex with young men and boys.
Colombia's Constitutional Court has ruled that private religious schools cannot ban gay students. Two effeminate teenage boys, Gustavo and Andrés, had been prohibited from re-enrolling in a school in Ginebra after they had dropped out for financial reasons. The court declared: "Homosexuality is a condition of the human person that implies the choice of a life option equally as respectable and valid as any other. "It is clear to the court ... that the rector of the school that was sued was operating from a discriminatory and intolerant attitude that is unacceptable in a person who has as his charge the direction of the educative process, whose principal objective is precisely the integral formation of children and youths."
A member of the Dutch parliament will be prosecuted for suggesting homosexuals are no better than thieves. In a 1996 magazine interview, Calvinist MP Leen van Dijke, leader of the minority party Reformatorische Politieke Federatie, said: "One cannot divide sins into serious and less serious. Why is cheating the state out of money less serious than breaking the seventh commandment [against adultery]? Why should a practicing homosexual be better than a thief?" If found guilty, van Dijke likely will be fined.
Seventy-four percent of Cypriots say homosexuality is wrong, according to a Cyprus College poll. However younger people are much less homophobic than older folks. Seventy-five percent of 18- to 24-year-olds believe gay sex should be legalized while only eight percent of people over 60 agreed with that statement. Cyprus has been told it must decriminalize homosexuality before it can join the European Union. The nation also faces expulsion from the Council of Europe for ignoring a European Court of Human Rights ruling against its anti-gay laws. The survey also found that 45 percent of Cypriots believe women should be virgins when they marry but only 20 percent said men should avoid pre-marital sex.
Tallinn, capital of Estonia, finally has a gay disco. Run by members of the Estonian Lesbian Organization (ELO), "Night Man" is open Wednesday through Saturday and features both drag and sex shows. "All are welcome, and we have excellent guards," said ELO founder Lilian Kotter. For further information, fax 00-372-2-21-62-05 or e-mail email@example.com.
The Israeli Knesset passed a law last month that bans anti-gay sexual harassment and other anti-gay actions in the workplace and all other facets of life. Violators face civil and criminal penalties as high as two years in prison. "Sexual harassment" is defined, in part, as "a despising or humiliating attitude that is shown toward a person regarding his sex or sexuality, including his sexual orientation."
Officials in the United Arab Emirates nave said that they have deported 5,759 foreigners since 1985 for being HIV-positive. The bulk of the nation's foreign residents come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom.
Prowler Press, £39.95
The Press Release: "You can now co-ordinate both yours and Billy's on an evening out! Totem International Inc knew one look for Billy would never be enough for you .. so they've created a choice of either blond or brunette. Both choices of hair colour will be available in four clothing styles: Master Billy, Sailor Billy, Cowboy Billy and San Francisco Billy. That's eight different Billy Doll styles to choose from. Billy is a deluxe adult doll: 13 inches tall, weighing 11.03 ounces. He is made from five precision moulded body parts, so he can be moved in many positions".
Heather, our ScotsDyke editor's opinion: "Forty pounds for a doll ye cannae even shag? Are youz poofs daft or something?"
The Male Nude
by David Leddick
Regular readers will probably have realised that I'm no great fan of Art Criticism which seems to be an excuse for social inadequates to make careers for themselves in the Groves of Academe by writing at greater length than their subject deserves on pretty pictures. Currently exercising the minds of those in the ArtCrit industry is the case of the English University which is being threatened with prosecution for having a book of mucky pictures by the late Robert Mapplethorpe in their library. I wish them luck, but I wonder if they'd defend porno pure and simple? After all, the only difference between porn and Art seems to be the price!
That said, this new `Standard Work on the history of male nude photography' from an internationally reputable publisher is a bit of a disappointment - certainly if you're looking for stiffies. There are pictures a plenty, but the reproduction quality is poor and not up to the standard of Taschen's other titles. A shame really.
by Jack Dickson
I'm not familiar with the so called twilight world of Glasgow's East End and so this book lacked the perk which might have made it an enjoyable read to me. As it stands it just reminded me too much of every boring hero-cop-becomes-the-hunted- for-no- good-reason movie I've ever had the misfortune to watch. Don't let me put you off too much though, this kind of book is just not my cup of tea at the best of time. I gave it a friend to read and he couldn't understand why I took such a dislike to it and even said to me that he had never come across a book with such a likeable gay hero as Detective- Sergeant Jas Anderson. So, if you do like Cops and Robbers you'll probably like this book, but if you don't you'll more then likely agree with me.
The Mammoth Book of Tasteless Lists
by Karl Shaw
From Kings and Queens (royal and otherwise) to Presidents and Psychopaths and even the Top Ten tunes in British crematoria, you'll find all the information you really didn't want to know about in this book. Let me give you a few examples: Ten Worst Ever Published Poets in the English Language; The Great Unwashed, 10 Historical Stinks; 10 Creative Applications for Formaldehyde (Yes you guessed right Damien Hirst is mentioned); The Ten Best Quotes attributed to former US Vice President Dan Quayle; 10 Alarming Dental Practices; etc. etc. I was in stitches while this book resided on the toilet book shelf and so were many of our friends. If you're in need a bit of light entertainment with a certain yuk factor go out and get this book, it's hilarious.
Gay and After
by Alan Sinfield
Serpents Tail, £12.99
A well thought out and researched book on Gay identity past present and future. All the questions you could have possibly asked yourself about your own gay identity are answered in this book, however I personally feel that associating myself with gay identity, fashion, style etc. is denying oneself one's own unique personal identity, as I feel that the Gay Community spends so much time trying to seek a new and more modern identity, they spend less time on what really matters, which is living your own life the way you want, with of course there being the backup for fighting inequality and injustice. Sometimes I look at the way the Gay Community and members thereof strive and long for an identity and it brings to mind the scene from Monty Python's film The Life of Brian when he says "You're all individuals" and yes you've guessed it, their reply is "Yes we're all individuals"!!!!!! Need I say more, except I AM WHAT I AM.
Some Men Are Lookers
by Ethan Mordden
Quartet Books Ltd, £9.00
A well written series of interlocking stories in this book make for compelling reading and it is hoped there will be many more to come. I found however that I could not interact with the characters and was therefore always reminded that this was fiction which was so unlike Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series, in which I found myself believing that these people were real and in whose lives one was an important aspect. I laughed, cried and rejoiced for the people in the stories in some men are lookers, but somehow never felt drawn into their world. Maybe not written with the genius of Armistead Maupin but never the less still a joy and a pleasure to read.
by Dennis Cooper
Serpents Tail, £8.99
Well here is the fourth volume in an apparently five novel series, and as with the rest of his books it deals with the darker side of human nature. An LSD trip through child porn, violent sex, death and generally having an amazing time with lots of weirdos. While reading this book I was reminded of some really cool parties in the early seventies when I was a child and it was quite strange, it was almost like Dennis Cooper had been there with me. Some great times were had at these places, but then again maybe I'm just weird. Dennis Cooper's other books include Frisk, Closer and Try, and a collection of short stories, Wrong, all of which are published by Serpents Tail. I live in the hope that somebody will take pity on me at the publishers and send me Frisk and Closer as these are the ones I do not yet have.
Two plays attract interest in the coming month. First is The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer in a production by Fife based Majick Men Theatre Company. The play itself is the story of Larry Kramer's life during the rise of the AIDS epidemic. Searing and passionate, it follows the attempts of one man, while his friends are dying around him, to break through a conspiracy of silence, indifference and hostility and gain recognition for the seriousness of the disease.
Often daring and always dictating innovation, Majick Men Theatre Company have taken this already classic piece of gay literature, punctured its silence with one of the funkiest soundtracks around, injected their very own brand of physicality and designed a few surprises for your viewing pleasure. The Normal Heart plays The Pathhead Arts Centre, Commercial Street, Kirkcaldy, on 6th, 8th and 9th May at 7.30pm. As a result of funding from Fife HIV/AIDS Awareness, the play will also be touring Fife schools.
Second is Shopping and Fucking which appears at the Glasgow Citizens Theatre 4th-9th May. Hailed as "the most important play of the decade" by The Stage and winner of the Glasgow Herald Herald Angel Award at the Edinburgh Festival last year, the play returns to Scotland for one week as part of a major UK tour. This blackly moral fable pitches a group of twenty-somethings into a world of cheap sex, fast food and designer drugs. It asks if love and morality are possible in a society which defines itself by the values of the market.
First seen as a studio play at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in 1996, Shopping and Fucking has become an international success with sold-out performances in places as diverse as Berlin, Sydney and Tel Aviv. It has just completed its second West End run, is currently playing New York and comes to Glasgow as part of a 17-date UK tour, after arousing extreme reactions in every town and city en route. WWW: http://www.shoppingandfucking.co.uk/
"Different For Girls" (15) has just opened and has great appeal to anyone who has grown up with problems about their sexuality. Rupert Graves and Steven Mackintosh befriended each other at boarding school and lost track after leaving school. When they run into each other many years later Steven has had a sex change calling herself Kim and writes clever words for a greeting card company.
Rupert is a motor bike messenger living in what Bette Davis would call "a dump". Romance blossoms but he lacks commonsense and is often in trouble. Kim's sensitivity makes her shy away from him. Watching them work it out makes one of the most unusual love stories you will over see onscreen. Anyone who contrasts Rupert's loutish character here with his shell shocked soldier in the recent "Mrs Dalloway" will know be is one of the finest actors in Britain today.
"Wild Things" (18) is in the top ten box office movies in America right now which I can understand as it has enough plot twists to keep you wide eyed with wonder. Matt Dillon is a guidance counsellor in a Florida high school. Many of his latter teen students are desperate for carnal knowledge of him. One of the most beautiful, Denise Richards, suddenly tells her multi-millionaire mother, Theresa Russell, that Matt has raped her. Another teenage girl, Neve Campbell, who has had a drug taking past, comes forward saying he has also raped her in the past.
In the courtcase she breaks down under questioning saying her friend Denise was furious with Matt when she found out be was baving an affair with her mother and had decided to make big trouble for him. All this in the first half hour of a one hour 51 minute movie. The rest is even more rivetting.
"The Hanging Garden" (15) tells how a gay young Canadian returns to his Nova Scotian home after a ten year absence for his sister's wedding. He has to cope with the sexual advances of her bridegroom and the hostility of his drunken father. Ideal for anyone gay who dreads going to see the family.
Alan Rudolph is a film director who doesn't believe in action, but personal dramas that rely on your attention by how much you happen to like his leading players. "Afterglow" has Julie Christie, still looking marvellous at 58, as a former star of horror movies who views them on video to pass the time. The story reveals she stopped having sex years ago with the handyman she lives with, Nick Nolte, so he stimulates the housewives he meets as a repair man. Stockbroker in his early twenties, Jonny Lee Miller, won't agree to his young wife having a baby so Mr Nolte comes in handy when working at their apartment. As much as I love Miss Christie I would have been happier with a fraction more action.
One of the big hits of last year was "Scream" that filled the screen with knives and blood splashing. I loathed it. "Something To Believe In" (PG) is a sentimental love story witb no knife slashings so I loved It. Maria Pitillo is a Las Vegas blackjack dealer who discovers she may only have weeks to live. Near Naples a weeping Madonna statue is making headlines. People are talking of miracle cures. Maria decides to gamble all to look for this Madonna.
William McNamara is a struggling pianist living in Paris who is driving to Naples to compete in a musicians competition. He meets Maria on the road. Mr McNamara is a stunning young man even Italian statues might find it impossible to resist. Music is provided by Lalo Schifrin which is wonderful. A really good movie you could enjoy crying through.
Oliver Stone directs some amazingly contrasting films. Many have great style and taste like "J.F.K.", but "Natural Born Killers" nauseated me. Presumably he knew a young couple driving across America shooting anyone they chose to could make money onscreen. An far as the financiers are concerned that is what films are all about. His latest, "U-Turn" (18) is on the violence trail again. Sean Penn in a smalltime gambler whose car breaks down near a dusty Arizona town where the sun blazes down and most things happen very slowly. Jennifer Lopez takes one look at Mr Penn to decide a romantic excursion with him will relieve the monotony. But her husband, Nick Nolte, turns up to humiliate him. She suggests, if he wishes to take full advantage of her far from hidden assets, Sean murder her husband so they can run away together. Too much violence for me, but if that is what the public wants!
Keenen Ivory Wayans is a black comedian who built a reputation on American TV and has made a few comedy films. Now be has written and stars in "Most Wanted" (15) that should be on your must see list. He is playing a soldier who refuses an order to shoot a terrorist child in battle. In the dramatic scene that follows his officer dies and Keenen is sentenced to die in a military prison. Jon Voight, a lieutenant colonel in charge of an ultra-covert assassination squad, offers him a chance to escape from prison if he will assassinate an industrialist, Robert Culp, who is selling deadly biotechnology on the black market.
But on the hit day it goes terribly wrong. The president's wife, who is attending the dedication of a medical building, is killed, and Keenen finds he has been set up as the triggerman. Mr Wayans has made a very exciting action movie with a menacing role for Jon Voight as the villain.
Windswept Cornwall in Victorian times could appeal to you? A Joseph Conrad short story, "Swept From The Sea", bas been filmed as "Amy Poster" (12). Vincent Perez is the sole survivor from a ship of Ukranian immigrants bound for America that is shipwrecked. Speaking no English he is treated with disdain and horror by the locals. A servant girl, Rachel Weisz, befriends him and the town's doctor, Sir Ian McKellen, teaches him English. Chiefly of interest for Vincent and Rachel whose appeal is considerable.
Asians living in Britain have been concerned in the past about their teenage children losing their religious values. "My Son The Fanatic" (15) has Om Puri as a taxi driver in a northern town whose son, Akbar Kurtha, goes another way completely persuading his father to welcome a religious Maulvi from Pakistan as a house guest. Om's taxi is often booked by local girls whose income is offering horizontal refreshment. Suddenly he finds his son and friends are harrassing a house of the girls on the game with demands they leave the neighbourhood plus bricks thrown through windows.
Om has befriended one of the girls and his continual kindnesses have made her fall in love with him. Finding his son as part of a screaming mob outside the house he drags Akbar away and back to their house before his son packs a bag to leave home. As nobody in history has been able to eradicate prostitution the moral of all this might be that anyone who tries to is incredibly optimistic.
A Ruth Rendell suspense novel "Live Flesh" (18) has been adapted by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar who has moved the setting from Britain to Madrid. You don't have the time to listen to the plotline that includes sex in the loo of a nightclub, flashing guns plus a very attractive cast. The sex scenes could raise a few temperatures and Pedro's Spanish treatment certainly enhances the Rendell story.
"The James Gang" (15) follows the lack of fortune of a poverty stricken family when the father leaves the wife and kids in the north to come south and they chase after him. Smash and grab raids on jewellers, supermarkets and bookies happen with the children in tow and the father purloining an assortment of getaway vehicles. Dear me!
People either love or hate Woody Allen movies. I love them which is why "Deconstructing Harry" (18) was a delight to me. Playing an author whose ex-wives and lovers are furious with him for putting very thinly disguised versions of them in his books he lurches from disaster to disaster pointing out "I wasn't even understood at school and was expelled when I wanted to give the dean's wife an enema."
No wonder the background music for his films is so memorable. Woody's hobby for years has been playing the clarinet with a New Orleans style jazz band every Friday night in New York city. "Wild Man Blues" (12) is the most entertaining documentary I have ever seen which is about Woody's 18 day tour of Europe with his band. As the Allen films are far more popular on the continent than in his home country he has no problem selling out the concerts. Accompanied by his sister and the Asian girl who followed Mia Farrow in his affections, Soon Yi Previn, who is refreshingly frank with him in her views on his films and his band, she is almost as amusing as his scripts. Whatever nature took away from him facially and physically she replaced by giving him an incisive wit. You even see his parents giving their views on him in "Wild Man Blues".
"Telling Lies In America" (15) has Kevin Bacon as a slick 1961 DJ who happily accepts bribes from agents and managers to play records of singers handled by them. Brad Renfro is an eager to please teenager working for him who accepts the cash in plain envelopes. There is a great rock and roll soundtrack with 18 songs you may well love.
You are practising French for your next holiday in that direction? Then the curiously titled "Western" (15) might help your studies watching two guys wandering around the French countryside chatting up girls to pass the time. It's the next best thing to a coach trip there.
1. Westbam vs. Red Jerry - Wizards Of The Sonic (Matt Darey Remix) (Wonderboy)
2. The Knuckleheadz - Raise Your Hand (Tripoli Trax)
3. Hyperlogic - Only Me (Hyperlogic '98 Dub) (Tidy Trax)
4. L.S.G. - The Black Series EP: Train Of Thought (Hooj Choons)
5. BBE - Deeper Love (Symphonic Paradise) (Nalin & Kane Remix) (Positiva)
6. Bang! - Drumbeats (Large Club)
7. Mark Williams - Back 2 The Future (Tortured)
8. Jack King - Go With You (Head Down Mix / Head Up Mix) (7th Temple)
9. Barabas & Odi - Doin'Drugs (Class A) (Phoenix Uprising)
10. Sadie Glutz - Cozmic Fhunk (Silver Planet)
11. Tripoli Trax Album Sampler Vol 1: Steve Thomas / DJ Eclipse (Tripoli Trox)
12. Tour De Force - Catalan (H.H.C. Remix) (Eastwestdance)
13. Junior Camp - Clap Your Hands (Kulak Mix) (Tripoli Trax)
14. Mystica - African Horizon (X-Cabs Remix 2) (Perfecto Fluoro)
15. Kinane - Heaven (Paul Gotel'S Hellfire Dub) (Coalition)
16. M.S.P.R - Inner City (Powder Rangers Dub) (White Label)
17. Jack Mackrel - Anchor EP: Drum Tumbler (Template)
18. Express - Station 1 (Clockwork)
19. Mindset - Touch The Sky (Zoom)
20. Wildchild - Badboy (Canny Mix) (Polydor)
It is not illegal to be gay or lesbian in the Police Force, but recently I spoke to a woman who is gay and who is a cop. This is the story of her life at work and the problems she foresees should she decide to come out to her colleagues.
It has become clear to me over the years that the canteen culture that every female officer is either a bike or a dyke is the standard narrow-minded approach taken by male colleagues. So if by the time your probationary period is over and you have not been the conquest of at least half a dozen guys in your shift you can expect your next Xmas pressie to be two copies of Playboy and a dildo.
If I did decide to come out I know for a fact that I would be treated differently by the others, both male and female. After all, it wouldn't do for any of them to be seen to break away from "the norm" and be seen to be sympathetic to a homosexual. Although Scottish Police Forces operate an Equal Opportunities Charter, there is the unwritten discrimination which continues to operate within the ranks. To continue successfully in a career that I love and enjoy it is therefore necessary to lead a double life.
Most of you may think, if you will pardon the pun, that this is a cop-out but believe me it is like the choice between climbing a steep cliff or taking the chairlift with the others to get to the top.
After hearing Fiona's story I asked her a few questions which had arisen in my mind as she was speaking:
Heather: Did you make a conscious decision to stay in the closet when you joined the Police?
Fiona: Yes, because I felt as I said earlier that if I had decided to come out, the current narrow-minded attitude within the Police would have undoubtedly forced me to resign. I sensed this narrow-mindedness as early on as during my initial interviews when I was faced with three senior officers with enough scrambled egg on their hats to feed an army. They asked me if I intended to marry and have a family or if I had a serious boyfriend. This was merely, I feel, a police interview technique to establish my sexual preference.
Heather: How do you feel when the "canteen banter" steps on the subject of gays and lesbians?
Fiona: Inwardly I feel embarrassed but outwardly I display a "one of the boys" Oscar-winning act of disassociation.
Heather: How did you overcome the "bike or dyke" issue?
Fiona: Well, I didn't ask for a puncture repair outfit and made it quite clear that I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than wake up to their ugly mugs bragging about their latest arrest. This seems to have been accepted as part of the "one of the boys" act.
Heather: Do they not then tend to make insinuations that you are gay?
Fiona: It hasn't happened to me personally but I have witnessed that very attitude towards other female officers who are perhaps more backwards at coming forwards with clever replies than I am. This is a talent that a closet cop has to develop in the early days.
Heather: Do you think there are many cops in the same situation as you?
Fiona: Obviously it's difficult to put a figure on it but I wouldn't be surprised if it was less than 10% of the total membership of Scottish Police Forces.
Heather: There is a Gay and Lesbian Police Association. Have you ever thought of approaching them?
Fiona: To my knowledge only about 5% of gay and lesbian officers throughout the UK join LAGPA. There is a thought in the Police that officers joining this society could be liable to a discipline charge of bringing the force into disrepute.
Heather: Thank you for being frank with us today.
Fiona: Thank you for listening.
I found this discussion with Fiona very enlightening although perhaps somewhat gloomy. Maybe it's time that the hierarchy took a look at the welfare issues within the Police Force and realised that a good police officer cannot be determined by his or her sexual orientation.
ScotsGay: a bi-monthly magazine for lesbians, gays and bisexuals edited, printed and published in Scotland. ISSN: 1357-0595. © Pageprint Publishing
Limited, April 1998. Non profit use by the lesbigay community of material in the magazine will normally be permitted free of charge but contact us first
for permission. We haven't had sex with most of the people who appear in the magazine so we don't actually know what their sexuality is.
Editor: John Hein. Production: Seumas Macmhicean. Contributors in this issue:
Tim Hopkins (News), Garry Otton & Derek Ogg (Features), Liquid Silk, Martin, Minerva, Calmac & Gus (Scene),
Martin Walker (The Nice Bit), Rex
Wockner (International), Iain Milne, Dirk Kreite, Andy Martin, Adrian Finkelstein, John Hein,
Malcolm Epstien (Reviews), Alan Nicholls (Music), Heather White (ScotsDyke)
Editorial Enquiries: Write to: ScotsGay, Pageprint Limited, PO Box 666, Edinburgh. EH7
5YW. Telephone: 0131-539 0666. Fax: 0131-539
We welcome news, articles, photos, cartoons, etc. especially lesbian and bisexual material.
Advertising Enquiries: Telephone: 0131-558
1279. Fax: 0131-539 2999.
Subscribing by Internet: Send a 'subscribe scotsgay-list' message to
and the text files of future editions will be delivered to
you by e-mail.
Editor: John Hein. Production: Seumas Macmhicean. Contributors in this issue: Tim Hopkins (News), Garry Otton & Derek Ogg (Features), Liquid Silk, Martin, Minerva, Calmac & Gus (Scene), Martin Walker (The Nice Bit), Rex Wockner (International), Iain Milne, Dirk Kreite, Andy Martin, Adrian Finkelstein, John Hein, Malcolm Epstien (Reviews), Alan Nicholls (Music), Heather White (ScotsDyke)
Editorial Enquiries: Write to: ScotsGay, Pageprint Limited, PO Box 666, Edinburgh. EH7 5YW. Telephone: 0131-539 0666. Fax: 0131-539 2999. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org We welcome news, articles, photos, cartoons, etc. especially lesbian and bisexual material.
Advertising Enquiries: Telephone: 0131-558 1279. Fax: 0131-539 2999.
Subscribing by Internet: Send a 'subscribe scotsgay-list' message to email@example.com and the text files of future editions will be delivered to you by e-mail.
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