Editorial - about bloody time
News - AoC report & Pride Scotland pics
News Feature - Christian "science"
Otton On... - summertime... and the living is sleazy!
Ogg's View - beware the backlash
International - news from around the world
The Nice Bit - genetically modified
Story - an afternoon in Stirling
Outlook - a gay dad speaks out
Reviews - toys & books & video & film
Music - Joy DJ Alan's latest chart
ScotsDyke - all change at the Stag & Turret
Well, there we are. Sex at 16. The first big step on the road to equality.
After 24 years of campaigning, this bugger should be grateful. But I'm not.
In Scotland, we've effectively had an AoC of 16 for several years - thanks to succesive Lord Advocates' prosecution guidelines - so the recent Commons vote merely goes to formalising that position (not that that is anything to be sneered at).
But there's a lot more to equality than the right to have sex at 16. There's the right to inherit when our partners die intestate, the right to join the military and kill people, the right to marry our partners and drag them through the divorce courts, the right to adopt children, the right to lose benefit when the Social Security find we're co-habiting!
With rights come responsibilities. And some of these responsibilities I'm not sure that I really want.
The notion that simply because I've lived with the same man for eleven years, I could be held to be in a Common Law Marriage fills me with horror. In such an event, if we were to split up, I could suddenly find myself having to pay aliment and maybe even losing my house to my former partner. If I want to give him rights, that is a matter for ourselves to resolve by legal agreement or even by positively opting into a marriage. In the absence of such affirmative action, it should not be the function of the state to regulate our financial arrangements with a set of standard rules we have not agreed to and which we cannot vary. Up until now, it is only heterosexuals who have suffered in this way - equality will drag us in too.
With luck, equality may mean changes which will benefit heterosexuals too - it will soon be legal for 17 and 18 year old women to consent to anal sex in England and Wales (as it has been in Scotland for several years). Those of us who have worked at homosexual law reform for so long could do well to link up with like minded folk who seek an end to Victorian sexual values generally.
At least I'll now soon be free to advertise in our Meet Market for my secret desire: a cute 16 year old guy with poor eyesight and his own well endowed account with a merchant bank! I will, however, be prepared to settle for two out of three of these attributes if anybody is interested...
On a free vote, 465 MPs of all parties trotted through the Commons division lobbies on Monday 22nd June to give a majority of 207 to an amendment to the Crime and Disorder Bill intended to bring the gay male age of consent down to 16 in Great Britain. In Northern Ireland, it will become 17, which is the same as the AoC for heterosexuals there.
43 Scottish MPs cast their vote but only one, Labour's Tam Dalyell, voted against equality - he's apparently changed his mind since the matter last came up for a vote.
Best speech of the three and a half hour debate came from veteran Labour MP Gerald Kaufman who told the House that passing the amendment "will not be a brave step at all; it will be a belated step, a reluctant step and a step that should have been taken in equity and fairness and decency long ago." Sadly, those of us in the House that evening waited in vain for Mr Kaufman to take a certain brave step himself!
A badly drafted amendment from Joe Ashton would have had not only the unintentional effect of making sex within some existing heterosexual marriages illegal but would have outlawed sex, both hetero and homo for 16 and 17 year olds if their partner was "in a position of authority, influence or trust". It too was defeated, but by a much smaller majority.
Amendments by Dr. Evan Harris which sought to lift the ban on gay sex involving more than two men, and to remove from the Sex Offenders' (pædophile) Register men convicted of consenting gay sex with youths aged 16 and 17 were not voted on and fell.
MPs then went on to debate the Fishing and Cockle Industry in Essex.
The amendment to the Bill now has to go to the House of Lords, but already homophobes are poring on the pressure for the Lords to throw it out. The Roman Catholic Church has been in the forefront of outraged moans about "children of 16" being exposed to moral dangers which, bearing in mind the expertise of their Priests and Nuns in abusing and raping children over the years (and then covering it up) seems remarkably odd.
However, although the Government has expressed its intention of getting the whole Bill into law by the end of July, a Lords defeat could clog up the Parliamentary timetable and, despite Tony Blair personally voting for equality, it's not clear if Ministers are prepared to go to the wall over this one small part of the Bill. There will, however, be a review of the law relating to sexual offences generally - which will, hopefully, clear up a number of anomalies.
The new legislation will not apply to Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, and campaigning group OutRage! claims that Tony Blair is unwilling to press the local parliaments to equalise their ages of consent at 16, to bring them into line with the rest of GB.
OutRage! is also warning that despite the equalisation of the age of consent, men of 20 or over convicted of consensual "buggery" and "gross indecency" with 16 and 17 year olds in situations where more than two persons are present or where the sex takes place in parks, backrooms, toilets and other "public" places will still be branded as pædophiles and forced to sign the sex offenders' register.
It was a lovely day indeed when thousands of pooves, dykes, bicycles and our bairns, parents, families and friends descended on Glasgow Green for the annual Pride Scotland celebration following a leisurely stroll from Blythswood Square. The pictures tell the story...
The Pride Festival in London on 4th July has been cancelled amidst acrid recriminations on all sides. However, the Pride March will go ahead starting at Hyde Park at Noon. Although re-scheduled for 15th of August, the Festival seems dead in the water.
Wendy Michie, a qualified nurse and professional councillor with Lanarkshire Health Board, is now regularly attending Lanarkshire Gay Men's Group to give confidential advice.
A Scottish Church has gone on the Internet to advertise homosexual, bisexual and transgendered weddings. The Holy Trinity Metropolitan Community Church in Edinburgh is the first in Scotland to offer religious blessings to same-sex couples. Its Web page says: "We offer relationship blessings to couples irrespective of gender identification or sexuality." The Church claims in its advertising that "some of the earliest recorded Christian marriages were between people of the same gender".
A recent demo outside the Scottish Office in Edinburgh protesting at 10 years of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was `hijacked' by Edinburgh students who led an impromptu march to the Mound where the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was in session. Kirk Commissioners were treated to a call for the end of church homophobia.
OUTRIGHT Scotland is now in a secure financial position following the discovery that it will receive the proceeds of the late Ian Dunn's life assurance policies.
ScotsGay's Internet Web Site (http://www.scotsgay.co.uk/) has won several major awards. Not only has it been given the Freedom Award - awarded to sites that contribute to the UK lgb community - but it is Freedom's site of the month. And it has just been put into GaySeek's Gold Site list.
Body Positive Strathclyde has secured funding from the Hysteria Trust to set up a vocational education project.
The Haven, the HIV/AIDS facility at Glasgow's Gartnavel General Hospital, was the subject of a successful arson attack on Saturday 6th June which has put it out of action.
Stuart Burgess, who wanted to place an advertisement in the Pride Scotland brochure for photographic models, has condemned the Pride Committee for refusing his ad.
Dr Keith Wardrop, a former Honorary Vice President of OUTRIGHT Scotland died recently.
ScotsGay 21 featured an article about anti-gay posters flyposted around Edinburgh by "ex-gay" Clay Garner. Entitled "Five things you did not know about gay men", the poster listed a number of `statistics', such as gay men average 110 sex partners a year ("I wish!" was the universal response to that one) and that 70% admitted eating their partner's excrement. Although the culprit refused to name his sources, the `statistics' are based on the work of discredited psychologist/sociologist Paul Cameron. Feòrag NicBhrìde investigates...
A favourite of American Christian fundamentalists and `family values' campaigners, Cameron is an ex-psychology lecturer who, set up his own organisation, the "Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality" (ISIS), now the Family Research Institute, in 1980. He published a number of extremely homophobic pamphlets linking homosexuality to violence, murder, bestiality and child abuse. At the same time, Cameron presented himself as an expert on the matter. By 1985, the Advocate warned he "just may be the most dangerous anti-gay voice in the United States today".
He was directly involved in anti-gay campaigns and when `statistics' were not enough, resorted to outright lies to further his hatred. In one notable case, he told a public meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska "Right now here in Lincoln, there is a 4-year-old boy who has had his genitals almost severed from his body in a restroom with a homosexual act". The local newspapers and police, to their credit, actually checked out the claim and found no evidence to support it. Cameron finally admitted that the rumour had no basis but insisted "it could be true".
His attitude towards AIDS is equally charming. He proposes tattooing people with AIDS, and has suggested that, should a vaccine be discovered, gay men be castrated "to prevent them cheating on nature". He has even advocated his own final solution to prevent the spread of AIDS.
The bulk of the infamous `statistics', come from research conducted by ISIS in 1983 and 1984. More serious researchers have pointed out several serious errors in the methodology which make the results meaningless, including a sample so small it would take just 3 liars in each of eight cities to alter the findings dramatically. Only 41 respondents claimed to be gay men. A good example of the problems caused by sample size is Cameron's claim that 29% of people with a gay parent had also experienced incest. A total of 17 respondents claimed to have a gay parent. Only 5 of the adults reporting incest also had a gay parent, so the percentage of such people in the population as a whole could be anywhere between -4% and +62%!
Another concern is the length of the questionnaire and the complexity of the format. Respondents filled in forms on their own which asked 550 questions and took over an hour to complete. It is usual to repeat early questions towards the end of a questionnaire as a check. Cameron did not include any such safeguards. Just to make life more difficult, medical terms for the genitals and bodily functions were used and not explained.
Obvious bias played a part in both the phrasing of the questionnaire and in the collection of data. An article about the survey was published by the Omaha World Herald while data was still being collected in that city. Cameron said the survey was to provide "ammunition for those who want laws adopted banning homosexual acts throughout the United States". He also made the national news, as data was being collected in Dallas, over a public remark that gays should be quarantined.
Another famous `study' by Cameron was of obituaries in the gay press, from which he extrapolated an average life expectancy. He claimed that both lesbians and gay men have shorter lives than straights. His figures were obtained by comparing the ages in paid-for death notices in local newspapers with obituaries in the gay press, which mostly focused on community activists and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, a bit like comparing apples and avocados.
When the ISIS pamphlets were published, a number of the psychologists cited complained that Cameron had deliberately distorted the results of their studies. Dr. A. Nicholas Groth, director of the Sex Offender Program at the Connecticut Department of Corrections and a genuine child sex abuse expert was particularly angry at the way Cameron had misrepresented his research.
Other researchers complained that he had over-generalised their work, taking specific studies of gay men being treated at VD clinics, self-professed `delinquents' and other small, non-random samples and treating them as if they were representative of the homosexual population as a whole, even when the researchers had specifically stated that this was not possible.
The American Psychological Association investigated and found that, in addition to misrepresenting the work of others, his own research left a lot to be desired. Cameron was dropped from APA membership "for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists" in December 1983. He claims he resigned before then but, in reality, he tried to resign while under investigation - prohibited by the APA by-laws. The Nebraska Psychological Association has censured him twice.
After this rejection by psychologists he pretended to be a sociologist, but not for long. In 1985, the American Sociological Association adopted a resolution criticising Cameron and set up a committee to critically evaluate and respond to his work. The eventual report was accepted and a resolution passed asserting that "Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, and [the ASA] condemns his consistent misrepresentation of sociological research."
The sloppiness of Cameron's work is reflected in his publication record. Gregory Herek surveyed the outlets for Cameron's research and the impact of those journals based on the Journal Citation Reports: "none of the Cameron group's research reports have been published in highly-respected, scientifically rigorous, and highly influential psychological journals". All of his papers have appeared in low-ranked journals, many vanity published in the pay-for-publication "Psychological Reports".
The status of the journal alone is not necessarily the measure of a scientific paper. The number of times a paper is cited in other papers shows its influence. It seems that serious psychologists paid little attention to his work. Excluding self-citations, Cameron's papers enjoyed a total of 14 citations between 1983 and 1996, mostly letters contesting his findings and literature reviews.
So who does take Cameron seriously? Not surprisingly, his most enthusiastic fans are the religious right. The `statistics' are used by opponents of measures to ensure equality for all, and by proponents of countermeasures specifically to deny rights to lesbians and gay men.
A video, The Gay Agenda was distributed to service personnel and politicians, and sold via Pat Robertson's 700 Club, when Bill Clinton tried to lift the ban on lesbians and gay men in the military. Described as "a splendid teaching tool" by one 2-star general, The Gay Agenda is a watered-down version of a tape produced for the Oregon Citizens' Alliance: Dangerous Behaviors: A Growing Pattern of Abuse which featured direct quotes from Cameron's work as pictures of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer flashed on screen.
As well as the better known Christian organisations such as Focus on the Family and the Coalition for Family Values, Cameron associates with some very dubious characters indeed. David Caton, is director of the Idaho Citizens' Alliance and a former cocaine user who claims to have been addicted to pornography. A $300 (£450) habit apparently caused him to masturbate uncontrollably. He now uses Cameron's statistics to support his claim that gay men are sexually-obsessed perverts.
Cameron regularly speaks at Human Life International's conferences and their founder, Fr. Paul Marx, is on the advisory board of the Family Research Institute. A militant anti-abortion group, HLI also promotes some more embarrassing opinions. In his Confessions of a Prolife Ministry, Marx declares "The same segment of the Jewish community that accuses the Pope of insensitivity to the Jewish Holocaust, not only condones but has more or less led the greatest holocaust of all time, the war on unborn babies".
But what about the statistics on the Edinburgh poster? They are based on one of Cameron's pamphlets "Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do", published by the Family Research Institute. The claim that gay men average 110 partners a year and 62 rectal encounters comes from a study of gay men attending a `special' clinic, and so cannot be considered typical of the population as a whole. Cameron doesn't mention sanitary towels at all, but he considers the use of `diapers' (nappies) or colostomy bags a potential risk of fisting and inserting toys into the rectum. He doesn't actually give a single case where this has happened the paragraph is entirely speculative.
And the shit? Cameron's original claim appeared in a 1989 edition of Psychological Reports, based on data from the 1983/4 survey. It seems the original question asked if the respondent had ever experience "oral-anal contact", which is slightly different. In "Medical Consequences " this becomes "About 80% of gays admit to licking and/or inserting their tongues into the anus of partners and thus ingesting medically significant amounts of fæces." The figures mostly come from the ISIS study, and show that 37 gay men have, at some time, engaged in oral/anal contact and another 3 have actually eaten faeces. Using Cameron's figures, I calculate that I can be 99% sure that between -32.8% and 47.5% of gay men have deliberately eaten shit.
The Queer Resources Directory (http://www.qrd.org/qrd/) is full of source material and articles concerning Cameron, the religious right and homophobia in general, as well as useful campaigning resources. Included is Mark E. Pietrzyk's article for the News-Telegraph "The man behind the myths: a report on the chief anti-gay researcher of the theocratic right" which provided a starting point for this piece, and pointers to Gregory M. Herek's website which provides a thorough examination of Cameron and his research methods from a scientific viewpoint. It also manages to do this using accessible language!
So Glasgow wants to make it big as a European capital? Garry Otton whips out his ruler and measures her up for sexual tolerance against one of the big boys.
In Amsterdam recently, a huge billboard was erected to promote the production of Mark Ravenhill's internationally acclaimed play, SHOPPING AND FUCKING. When it appeared at the Citizen's Theatre in Glasgow, discrete signs appeared, advertising only Shopping and F***ing. It was as if Glasgow's moral decadence could be halted with the insertion of a string of asterisks.
In a prominent display along Buchanan Street, no one could escape the cheeky juxtaposition of the letters that abbreviate French Connection UK. Altogether, as a marketing ploy, it was fcuk-ing clever! Still, it'll be a little while yet before we'll see anyone fucking properly - spelling the word, or otherwise - in the streets of Glasgow! In any case, Amsterdam pipped it to the post two years ago when the gay club, iT promoted its d'mix night on posters round the city depicting a naked heterosexual couple on roller-skates apparently performing anal intercourse. The city burghers didn't lose any sleep and its residents lived to see another day.
By the Homomonument, erected in the centre of Amsterdam to honour the gay men and women who have lost their lives in wars, there is a bridge over the Keizersgracht. It has recently been re-named Niek Engelschmann Bridge after the founder of the Dutch gay emancipation organisation, COC. There is no monument in the whole of the UK for the gay men and women who gave their lives in two World wars for a freedom that was never theirs. And all Scottish gay rights campaigner Ian Dunn received after his death were polite obituaries in The Herald and The Scotsman.
Every step Glasgow takes to move forward as a liberal, progressive European capital is hampered by the dictates of well-organised religionists, an inhibited media and a moribund Labour council. When the idea of holding a fair of erotica at Glasgow's Scottish Exhibition Centre - held successfully in several European cities, including London - was first mooted, Glasgow's most sexually inhibited tabloid, The Daily Record rustled its crinoline to announce: "Sex show flops 1700 protests flood in to stop erotic carnival." From the Scottish Daily Mail there were "red faces at sex shop show of `depravity.'" Most of the Scottish media gave a disproportionate voice to the outrage. There were the usual favourites. Father Tom Connelly, a moral spokesman for the Catholic Church thundered: "The motto of the city is `Let Glasgow flourish by the praising of God's name and the preaching of his word.' Erotica has no place in that. We have enough problems in this city without importing this depravity." Another spokesman declared his fear that if the exhibition went ahead, others would label Glasgow "a capital of sleaze." Reverend David Anderson, general secretary of the Evangelical Alliance frothed: "It is going back to an uncivilised state of savagery" and Ali Syed, chairman of the Pakistani Media Relations Committee said: "These people are capitalising on human weakness and frailty." The exhibition was banned. That the voice of religionists, helping to organise over 4,000 letters of protest, should be sought over and above gays, who far outnumber the amount of people who regularly attend church, is not surprising, and speaks volumes on the conservative nature of the Scottish media on all things sexual. Gays, amongst others, might have afforded a more liberal voice of support for the exhibition, yet it is religionists who are regularly called upon to voice their opinions in the media. John Macleod, a homophobic columnist from the Free Church of Scotland regularly writes for The Herald. The Edinburgh Evening News even employs a priest.
But is Glasgow the moral, pure and sanctimonious city its media, churches and civic leaders would have its citizens believe? True, only seven years ago, a MORI poll revealed a startling 36% of Scots believed homosexuality should be made a criminal offence. And if 74% of the UK supported an equal age of consent in a Harris poll, that was only supported by a meagre 9% of Scots. But what Scots say or do in public is quite different to what they do in private. Grahame Miller, writing in Gay Times thinks this conservative attitude is "symptomatic of an endemic Scottish malaise that stems ultimately from our status as a subject nation and our consequent lack of self-confidence." But however hard Glaswegians try to hide sex, it can be found if you look hard enough. Hidden discretely away in Virginia Street, Clone Zone has been selling what heterosexuals charmingly call "marital aids," to gays for months now. No one has suffered because of it. Also, situated beside St Enoch's shopping centre, an epitaph to family values, is an unusual socio-sexual construct called Divally's. A Glasgow cinema-cum-pub where men lean up against the bar talking in voices hard enough to grate cheese before paying their money to slip through a back door and watch straight erotica. As one regular told me with a grin: "Gays have been mingling with the straight clientele here for years. Even administering some assistance when needed."
Up until now, Glasgow City Council dismissed any suggestion the city had a "problem with prostitutes," whilst it supported a virulent police campaign to rid its streets of them. Not until after hundreds of arrests, repeated convictions and seven sex workers were murdered did one of its councillors, John Moyne reluctantly admit in front of reporters that he "may have been wrong." Now, in a curious dichotomy, and in what some describe as "a step forward," police are being employed to both protect and arrest sex workers at the same time. Such prudery would have surprised the eminent eighteenth century Scottish lawyer and writer, James Boswell who, like so many of his time, enjoyed sex with whores in the open.
In the thirties, the Glasgow's street gangs used to turn out the gas lamps in the tenement closes and enjoy the classic `knee trembler,' up against the tiled walls. Frequently under the noses of tenants and police, turning a blind eye. Gay sex is still frequently performed in private, outdoors. This is not quite the contradiction it first seems. As in any other major cities in the world, there are parks and open spaces where men cruise, seeking sexual contact with other men. One of the reasons sex in "public places" occur is quite simply because the offer: "Would you like to come back to my place?" is rarely an option for many men hungry for gay sex. In his book, Erotics and Politics, sociologist, Tim Edwards says: "Public sex is paradoxically only public to the extent that it is not practised at home," and adds "local councils and police authorities deploy prison-like restrictions of these activities. The history of cottaging (and cruising) is, in fact, one of increasing sexual regulation whilst sexual activity has constantly widened and spread further into other areas."
"We don't want it to be made public because it will attract the wrong sort of people" was a sentence I frequently heard from other gay men out cruising open spaces in and around Glasgow last summer. Such a plea for privacy was from men fearful of publicity, arrest, queer bashing or reprisals after the wave of pædophilia sweeping the nation in the wake of the Dunblane massacre of a classroom of children by a suspected pædophile. (Reports that Thomas Hamilton was gay and cruised Calton Hill in Edinburgh were fabricated by the press). Some of the men cruising seemed unaware that they were indebted to the negative media reports of arrests, beatings and police activity for attracting newcomers to the gay cruising areas. Another price paid for such discretion has been the distortion of our history. Censored, swept from view or even re-written. It is not the picnics, nude swims, beach parties, the forming of lasting relationships or brief sexual encounters on gay beaches or open spaces we read about in public records. It is reports of arrests as a consequence of moral policing and the reproachful tones of newspapers backed by the inevitable censure from chaste religious leaders. And of course the murders. The gay disco-bunnies will be quietly humping in the sand dunes at Prestwick beach as they do every year. When exposed in such a negative sense, our sexuality is further tainted by the notion we are indulging in something altogether dirty; sinful; disgusting and perverted.
In modern, progressive and liberal cities like Amsterdam, reaction against sex in open spaces from either religionists, editors, the police or the public are rare. But then, unlike Britain, Holland's history of tolerance is backed by legislation. A Dutch MP is already facing prosecution for saying homosexuals are no better than thieves. Reactions from the Dutch reading the Scottish Media Monitor's web-site (http://members.aol.com/garryotton/scotmed.html) regularly reporting the Scottish media's handling of sexuality is usually one of surprise at the level of Scotland's sexual repression.
Outside the Dutch City of Utrecht a new town is being built. Within the design, provisions are being made for an area where men can cruise to meet men for sex in the open. The controversy appears not so much whether men cruise but whether society can actually construct such a space! The Dutch are proud of their level of tolerance. If it were to be made compulsory to wear bathing costumes on Dutch beaches; special permission would need to be sought. Families' usually congregate nearest parked cars and amenities just like on British beaches, but most women sunbathe and swim topless. In Britain, they would face arrest. Neither is the public faced with a battery of warning signs when approaching a nudist area. It is just naturally integrated further along the beach. Gay beaches are usually tagged on at the end. Amsterdam's main gay beach is at Zandvoort with other main gay beaches like Bergen Aan Zee and Scheveningen within easy reach. During the summer in Amsterdam, trains are packed with gay day-trippers heading for the coast. They are not all heading out for ice creams and donkey-rides! Many gays are drawn by the prospect of sex in the dunes. It is not moral police or heterosexuals straying off the beaten track that constitute a problem, but a particular thistle used to keep the dunes together. One enterprising salesman trawls the beach selling tweezers to men whose arses have been penetrated by an altogether different kind of prick. Glasgow boasts three gay beaches within easy reach by train, or a thirty to forty-five minute drive away at Prestwick, Irvine and Stevenston.
GAILES BEACH, NEAR IRVINE
Mention Gailes and you think of golf. But go back about ten years and this was one of the most popular gay beaches in Scotland. That was before, during the summer of 1991, a photographer made public a very private act that was taking place in one of the hollows in the dunes. The Sun eagerly snapped up the photo of the recalcitrant young, married, police officer with his trousers down. He was put under investigation and suspended from duty. The result was an increase in moral policing and an attempt to wipe out nudism along this lonely stretch of the Ayrshire coast.
Prohibitive attitudes to sex al fresco are underpinned in Scotland by the media, police and a moribund church, defining and regulating a code of behaviour. The police and local authorities apply authoritarian constraints, marshalling the population into practices, which conform to the political and social ideologies of the day. But the wearing of costumes on beaches has not always been so rigorously imposed. At the turn of the century, bathing naked was commonplace. It was a subject that inspired artists in the late nineteenth century, like Henry Scott Tuke whose pictures of boys bathing would raise a storm of protest in today's moral climate. There was also the internationally acclaimed impressionist painter, Seurat. His painting Bathing at Asnières perfectly captured boys swimming in the shimmering heat of a summer's afternoon on the banks of the Seine. While the National Vigilance Association busily mapped out "moral danger zones" like beaches, the Social Purity and Hygiene Movement set out to cover the nation's shame. Before women were allowed to join the police force, several thousand women patrols, initially set up by The National Union of Women's Workers and funded by the police, patrolled parks and open spaces, initially to "guide young and foolish girls" and save men from "women of evil reputation." By 1918 Sir Leonard Dunning, Inspector of Constabulary was calling them the "true guardians of the State in public morals." Two years ago, Glasgow's billboards were awash with one of them chasing a group of naked boys with a stick along a stretch of the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park, advertising the popular Scottish soft drink, Irn Bru.
ARDEER BEACH, STEVENSTON
If windbreaks were solely erected for the purpose of breaking wind, then the long stretch of sand with secluded dunes near the Garnock estuary at Irvine would be fortified with flapping canvases for as far as the eye could see. But the windbreak never was just about breaking wind. It is the family fortress, pitched to hide our `shame' and doing away with the inconvenience of wrestling with undergarments behind a small towel. Apart from Cleat's Shore, near Lagg on the Isle of Arran, Ardeer, near Stevenston is the only official naturist beach in Scotland. Perhaps this is why there are few windbreaks on Ardeer. Speaking volumes about Scottish attitudes to nudity, Ardeer is difficult to reach, strewn with broken concrete and backing onto a former ICI explosives manufacturing plant. As far as the quality of the water goes, with partially treated sewage gushing out of a long outfall pipe, it fails to meet even EC minimum standards. No one is very sure when it first got its reputation as a gay beach. I spoke to one of its oldest regulars who I was warned not to approach as a gay man. He was in his eighties and had been coming down to Ardeer since the thirties and remembered an arrest on the beach of a couple of people bathing nude. "The local sheriff reprimanded the police for not having something better to do." Another regular told me that "following a complaint from a member of the public last summer, a Land Rover was sweeping up and down the sands all day." In a bid for privacy, and to mark their territory, regulars have constructed their own `windbreaks' and individual enclosures from the driftwood strewn along the beach. Some of the men have been coming here for years, and I frequently heard delightful, antique expressions like "he's on," marking someone with known gay proclivities. With The Champion Shell Inn at Stevenston, a popular watering hole after a day at the beach, Stevenston could be set to compete with Prestwick as Glasgow's own Zandvoort in the 21st century.
In Britain during the 19th century, most villages and towns staged carnivals. Glasgow had the Glasgow Fair. If the sun was shining, many of its citizens flocked to the beaches in Ayrshire. The drinking, dancing, eating, fighting and sex provided a useful respite from the daily grind. They were celebrated throughout Scotland. Robbie Fishman, a Shetland Islander has described these rituals to a University of Essex interviewer. "People dancing into the small hours after carding of wool and `flatchies' (that is straw pellets) were spread out on the ground so that they could spend the night. This was a signal for the boys to come in." Wakes' weeks in the north and Whitsun in the south of England provided even greater opportunities for sexual encounters to take place. The Victorians linked these events with immorality and succeeded in establishing sex segregation on many beaches used for bathing. The establishment of the Social Purity Movement paraded sexual repression with moral certainty, sexual prudery and Christian zeal. As fascism became ever more assertive, this led to an unashamed desire for racially `pure' stock and a faith in science to deliver the ideal by interfering in sex lives.
Of course, Brighton housed high-class courtesans and prostitutes from Regency times, but during the inter-war years, with the development of transport and the ability of single men to afford holidays, Blackpool became the seaside sex capital of the UK. Secret doors linked rooms in hostels for the lovemaking that took place at night. The sex that took place on the beach at night became a national scandal. In 1937, Mass Observation employed 23 investigators to do an anthropological study of beach sex at Blackpool. In a half an hour before midnight they found 232 cases of petting. 120 cases of sitting down and embracing. 42 cases of standing up and embracing. 46 cases of lying on sand and embracing. 25 cases of sitting and kissing. 9 cases of necking in cars. 3 cases of standing and kissing and 7 cases of girls sitting on men's knees. After lines of observers had systematically beat the sand dunes, one observer remarked: "When we began work in Blackpool we expected to see copulation everywhere. What we found was petting, feeling, masturbating one another." Interestingly, the research revealed very few cases of copulation, (only 3). This would no doubt parallel the sex that takes places on Britain's gay beaches and cruising areas today which amounts to little more than oral sex and mutual masturbation. That this alone can cause so much alarm also has its roots in latter day thinking. Professor G Stanley Hall, once the world's leading authority on adolescence, described masturbation in 1911 as an "insidious disease," the "scourge of the human race" and "an influence that seems to spring from the Prince of Darkness."
On the gay beach at Prestwick, bulldozers have chomped into the sand dunes where the brazen boy-babes and muscle-Marys, bronzing-up in the hollows are peppered by spent aircraft fuel from planes taking-off and landing at Prestwick Airport. Prestwick pays the price of being the most famous of gay beaches within easy reach of Glasgow. Precious resources are ploughed into the regular moral policing of this stretch of beach which has made designer-label swimwear de rigeur. One regular told me the police regularly sweep the dunes warning gays to cover themselves, accompanied by the well-worn phrase "there have been complaints from members of the public." This would be more believable if the majority of locals didn't appear to be so unfazed by the popularity of the dunes with gays. Or even that it were not such a long walk from where families sit, cracking open cans of Tennants or licking ice cream Snickers on a stretch of beach close to their parked cars. The sight of gay bars, restaurants and gays campsites that otherwise adorn its counterpart in Zandvoort are light-years away.
To be continued...
© Garry Otton 1996
So whilst we are all congratulating ourselves about the Age of Consent victory there were a few worrying straws in the wind last week that made me hesitate to open the second bottle of champagne. Firstly there was a completely uncalled for and vitriolic attack on the vote as a "pædophiles charter" by a Sun columnist, that bastion of the Old Left, Jim Sillars. Secondly a BBC Radio Scotland phone in before the vote saw phone lines jammed with anti gay callers, same thing happened on the prestigious BBC Radio 4 morning debate. Thirdly of course, when at last we have something to be proud about, for the first time in history Pride itself is cancelled by its organisers.
The worrying conclusion that could be drawn is that at the very threshold of our greatest success, the enjoyment of equal rights is about to be put to a severe test as a backlash threatens to show some early shoots.
I've said before in these columns and I'll keep saying it until someone listens, the average Scots punter has no patience for gay rights, gay moans and gay icons. We are, I suspect generally regarded as people with a mild to moderate personality disorder, more or less harmless except when left in charge of young boys, otherwise good for a laugh (at) providing we don't try to make a pass at them in which case we can hardly expect sympathy (or police or court protection) if a violent response occurs. We are not either regarded as good rôle models in areas of physical courage, sporting prowess, moral rectitude or parental figures. Likewise the general public, in their heart of hearts, don't want their children growing up like us, for the perfectly understandable reasons that our lives consist , to them, of tragically short disease prone, drug immersed shallow destructive relationships which end in ignominious suicides or even less glamorous AIDS related hell. Our heroes and heroines are incomprehensible to them. They either don't venerate them at all (Garland, Oscar Wilde, Doris Day) or they venerate them for all the wrong reasons (Diana, Rock Hudson, Barbra Streisand). They don't see the real joke in drag and are either terrified or sickened by the leather/SM cultural pulse in gaydom. Effeminacy is the only picture they can mentally conjure of a gay man, they have nothing later than a 50's caricature of a lesbian to picture, and frankly that suits their lazy up themselves superiority just fine.
Pause to draw a deep breath. You know what I've just written is true. Don't try getting away from the truth by remembering that really understanding straight girl when you were at Uni, or how your mum sends your boyfriend a birthday card too, or how the trades union delegate said he'd fight for a crêche for every gay father in the workplace if you voted for him. Don't comfort yourself with Guardian editorials either, the Edinburgh Evening News easily outsells the whole national sale of that liberal stalwart. There is no shortage of liberal pro gay straights in middle class intellectual or arty farty circles, predominantly English for that matter. But move into the council estates, or the Wimpey estates for that matter, and an altogether different picture like the one described above emerges. One reason we know I'm writing the truth is that we secretly know even our most liberally minded mums and dads harbour, and sometimes can't help betray, these attitudes of regret and disappointment over us.
These general thumb nail sketches that huge numbers of straights have of us are fertile ground for those who see votes or newspaper sales in stirring up hatred and fear of us, Expect the response to any gay led debate about a further reduction of age of consent to be represented as gay men's desire all along to get their paws on "our kids". As I said, Jim Sillars, no less, has already opened that war in the Scottish editions of the Sun. The Daily Record will come out fighting to beat the Sun on moral indignation, and you can bet our spokespeople will hand them quotes by the barrowload of politically correct liberalism to stoke up the fury of the editorials.
So what's my solution? We have to stop speaking only to the fellow liberals, to our trades union chums, to our political cronies and high falutin' pals in the establishment. Keep them on side of course, keep them committed to realisation of equal rights laws, but for God's sake let's help them and ourselves by talking as a community to ordinary Scotland! Articles, letters, appearances in the media that doesn't always sympathise with us are long overdue. When such a chance arises, don't patronise the reader or viewer with college politics that go over their heads and fail to address their myths and fears. In youth and alternative media, start from the more humble basis that maybe we do as a community have some re-education and explaining to do. We should stop behaving as if only a retard could possibly think anti-gay and should consider that maybe we have failed in our propaganda over the last ten years, pissing punters off with a hectoring, smug and alienating imagery that leaves them cold and disinterested.
Let's get something absolutely clear, we need straight Scots folk to want gay people to enjoy our rights. Otherwise no amount of special pleading among the great and the good at Holyrood will make a blind bit of difference to the gay boy or girl in Easterhouse or Muirhouse who wants to set up home, and family, with a lover there. It's time for us to take a tumble to ourselves and realise we tread on new and potentially hazardous ground in a devolved Scotland. Most of the mass media loathes what they say we are. Many Scots have a well nourished chip on their shoulders and are as bigoted as they want when stirred to it, and in a new Parliament there will be many willing to do the stirring. Attitudes among some misguided gays that we are not a community at all, but really just a load of individuals with widely differing aims and needs, just goes to show how woeful political comprehension is these days - (imagine blacks saying that). The concept of and the need for, 'community' is voluntary and informed by the forces at work in any one society at any given point in history. So there. So, I say at this time in our social development in Scotland we, as gays, need to strengthen our sense of community, of common effort and working together, in an act of self interested education of, and reaching out to, the rest of our people, the straight mass of Scots. It's time to say hello and introduce ourselves.
by Rex Wockner
The programme manager of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, Keith Goddard, has been charged with sodomising a young man at gunpoint.
The accuser, Siphephule Vuma, 20, has been charged with extortion for sending Goddard letters demanding money.
Goddard went to police first to report the letters and Vuma then accused Goddard of sexual assault. Goddard denies having sex with Vuma.
The two men will testify against each other in separate trials.
The incident occurred as former President Canaan Banana's gay-sex trial continues. He is charged with 11 counts of sodomy, attempted sodomy and indecent assault on seven aides, a cook, a gardener and a bodyguard. The flood of alleged victims came forward after the bodyguard murdered a fellow cop for allegedly having teased him with the nickname "Banana's wife."
Current President Robert Mugabe is aggressively homophobic. He has called homosexuals "repugnant to my human conscience ... immoral and repulsive," declared gay sex "an abomination" and "sub-animal behaviour," and urged citizens to "hand [gays] over to the police."
"I don't believe they have any rights at all," he stated in 1995.
In April, Mugabe added: "Animals in the jungle are better than these people [homosexuals] because at least they know that this is a man or a woman."
America Online Canada and its gay-content provider, Kiosque, have reneged on their contract to run ads for the popular gay-male erotica site http://www.chisel.com/.
"Once home office in the U.S. saw the site they began to construct roadblocks," said Chisel owner Doug McClelland. "AOL invoked a rule that no adult material can be within three clicks of one of their pages and that no nudity or graphic language could appear on the link ads. Kiosque was required to interpose an additional page between the public and the hard stuff to meet the three-clicks rule and Chisel's banner ad on Kiosque's cover was toned down to an innocuous description: `Travel, News, Live Interactive, A&E, People! (you must be over 18).'"
Prior to the final shutdown, AOL's "censorship" had reduced traffic to Chisel from AOL to 1,500 hits a month, McClelland said. The Kiosque site itself receives around 65,000 visits a month, he said.
"Now when you enter AOL keyword `Chisel' you get the message `Sorry, Chisel is no longer available on AOL,'" McClelland said. "Thank you, Big Brother."
For the first time in Australian history a gay man has won custody of his child. The man's ex-wife was found to have falsified evidence that the man sexually abused the boy, and the court said the mother's new household was dysfunctional, hysterical, stressed and crisis-ridden. The parties in the case were not named.
HIV-positivity among gay-male patients under age 30 at Amsterdam's Municipal Health Service dropped from 17 percent in 1991 to 9 percent in 1996, according to a report in the May 28 issue of AIDS. More than 10,000 clinic attendees were tested.
Two thousand people turned out for the third Gay Pride March in June in Lille, France. "The demonstration's one and only message was that Prime Minister Lionel Jospin should keep his promises and introduce registered-partnership legislation for unmarried couples, gay or not," said an organizer. "Gays were in the very heart of Lille yesterday afternoon and that's where we plan to stay." The event was organized by the Committee for the Social Recognition of Homosexuals.
Following years of research by a standardization committee, the European Union has increased the length of its "standard" condom from 16 centimetres (6.3 inches) to 17 centimetres (6.7 inches). The diameter also is being increased, from 54 to 56 millimetres.
Finland's parliament last month lowered the age of consent for gay sex from 18 to 16, the legal age for straight sex, and repealed a law that prohibited promotion of homosexuality. No one spoke against the changes, which were part of a larger crime bill.
Gay-pride organizers on five continents have endorsed the "World Pride Rome 2000" march scheduled for July 8, 2000. Scores of related events will run from July 1-7. The pride activities coincide with the Vatican's Christianity millennium jubilee, which is expected to attract more than 1 million pilgrims.
Pope John Paul II lashed out at gay families again during a June 6 Vatican meeting with U.S. bishops. "At a time when the very definitions of marriage and family life are endangered by attempts to enshrine in legislation alternative and distorted notions of these basic human communities, your ministry must include the clear proclamation of the truth of God's original design," he said.
Vietnam's national assembly has banned gay marriage, Agence France-Presse reported. Legislators acted after several homosexual couples tied the knot in recent months, distressing local officials who were unable to stop them, the news service said. After the legislation passed, Communist Party officials descended on the Vinh Long home of Cao Tien Duyen, 23, and Hong Kim Huong, 30, and secured their signature on a promise that they would never again live together. The two women had wed in March in a large public ceremony.
A simple test for you boys. Who would you rather hump? Bernard Manning or Kylie Minogue? And for the girls - Brad Pitt or The Queen Mother?
Fair questions? Hardly. Weighted? Definitely. Useful none the less. Heterosexuals will one day accept that every one has at one time fancied a member of their own gender. Straight stars like Euan MacGregor have - and met with no public derision at all for saying so. And I know lesbians that have sex with their gay boy friends
"OK" I hear you cry, "But that doesn't mean I'm straight does it?!" And at this point we realise what a ridiculous collection of words we're labelled with. Straight, gay, bisexual. It's all bollocks.
People aren't born gay. People are not born straight. There is no gay or bisexual gene. Practising sex with another is neither moral or immoral - but as natural as blowing your nose. Who you chose to sleep with is no one's business but your own. The label is irrelevant. People, when coming out to themselves don't have neuroses about the sex act itself, but what it's called. A boy might reasonably think, in the current climate, that if he sleeps with a man once, then he will be gay for ever and everyone will see him as such in the future, his image consumed by a statement which says that the most important thing about a person is who they sleep with.
I like football. I sleep with men. I drink lager. I play chess. I sleep with women. I love The Simpsons, I am a Civil Servant, I eat cheese, I smoke, etc., etc. It is ridiculous to be labelled and judged by just two of the above statements. All some people see, once they know, is a bisexual man. Period.
Who actually likes the terms `gay' or `lesbian' or `bisexual' or `transgender' or `straight' anyway. Do you prefer `queer' or `dyke' or `catflap' ?? In the last issue I mentioned a debate on labels that we had had a few years ago at a bisexual conference. Not liking the `B' word much we were seeking an alternative - and came up with the term `nice'.
And there is no nice gene, or even selfish ones. You can not genetically modify the sexuality of an individual who hasn't even got a sex drive yet. You can't abort a gay foetus because there are no gay foetuses, or straight ones. Nor do foetuses like football, drink lager or play chess.
It's common sense isn't it?
It happened on a Saturday afternoon, mid May, at my parents' home in Stirling. My parents had left us alone to go out for their weekly shopping trip to the out-of-town supermarket. Robbie was reluctant at first, he was worried that my parents would come back early, but I reassured him that they were never early for anything. In the end Robbie agreed and together we went upstairs to my old bedroom.
Robbie was the first boyfriend of mine that I ever took to meet my parents. In truth Robbie is my first serious boyfriend. We had been together a little over three years when I took him to Stirling. The idea had been mine but the seeds had been sown by Robbie. Robbie never said he wanted to meet my parents, or even hinted at it, he just showed me the way. We had been together a little under three months when he took me to stay with his parents for a weekend. They gave us the same bedroom and simply treated me as Robbie's boyfriend, no undertones. This gave me ideas.
I came out to my parents when I was twenty, ten years ago now, a few months after I had left home. Their reaction was cold. They didn't tell me how they felt then and since then there has been total silence about it. It has been as if I never told them, as if they don't know. That is how they have behaved. I feel like they have cut themselves off from a large part of my life. I don't like it.
Bringing Robbie to meet them I had hoped to show them what they were ignoring. To show them that my being gay is good for me. I failed. They called Robbie my "friend", with an edge to their voice, ignoring everything important about our relationship. We were put in separate bedrooms, me in my old bedroom (which my parents use as a spare room) and Robbie in the tiny box room (which is now a store room). By Saturday morning, we had arrived on Friday afternoon, I felt the whole thing was a total failure. I felt frustrated and annoyed.
Hand-in-hand we went upstairs and into my old bedroom. We undressed and climbed into the narrow, single bed. The single bed were I had slept as a teenager. Because of the small space the sex we had was not the very passionate and noisy type we usually enjoy. All we did was kiss, caress each other and a little more. Afterwards we lay together, rapped around each other, arms and legs holding onto each other, our heads lying nose to nose on the pillow. Slowly I ran my fingers over Robbie's back in tiny circles while he stroked the hair at the back of my head. We lay like this, quietly enjoying it, for a long moment.
When I was a teenager I spent many lonely hours shut away in that bedroom, reading my books and listening to my radio. I had felt different, alienated and rejected by the world around me. As a teenager I saw my bedroom as a safe place but in another way it was also a prison cell. Hidden away in my bedroom I had also hidden away from life. As a teenager I spent my life dreaming of loving another man but was also frightened to death of doing so. I had been so lonely and unhappy in that bedroom.
Now, rapped up in Robbie's arms in my old bed in my old bedroom, I began to feel the ghosts of my teenage years being chased away by a warm act of love. As a teenager I had dreamt of lying in that bed, rapped up in the arms of a man I loved and here I was actually doing it, years later.
Robbie's hand rested on the back of my head.
"You alright?" He asked.
"Yes," I told him.
"How're you feeling?"
"Good," I smiled at him.
As a new organisation is set up in Edinburgh to cater for children of lesbian and gay parents (see our listings for details of COLAGE), a West Coast dad tells us HIS story...
Why is it that the society we live in seems to have some strange preconceived and prejudiced attitudes towards gay parents? Apart from the fact that they're uninformed and narrow-minded, I can't fathom it out at all.
I was aware that we gay parents were pre-judged and prejudiced against, but until recently it never affected me. (Boy was I wrong). So why does it affect me now? Well that's easy.
I have always been a gay dad, but for the past 9 years I had no contact with my daughter, for reasons I can't even remember, who is now 15, so not exactly a child, but an adolescent with her own mind and opinions.
When she was born in 1983 I was a part of her life on a daily basis. That then went to nothing. I did try to obtain access, but to no avail. Back then it was even worse being a gay parent, as I'm sure all gay parents will connect with. Now, due to many problems at home between mother and daughter, she does not live with her mother, but with my family. As a direct result, and with the help of the Social Services (whom I have to praise), I see her on a daily basis. She has become a major part of my life again and it's a wonderful feeling.
It has not been an easy few weeks as we have had to build our relationship from nothing. It has taken hard work on both sides and has been a learning experience for both of us. We have both been honest with each other - communication is a good thing - and it has had excellent results for us. We have a good father-daughter relationship as well as becoming good friends.
I mentioned she had problems, but by talking these over she is now on top of them and is attending school on a daily basis again and is preparing for her final 6 exams. I don't take all the credit for that, but take a good bit of it.
We have had some hurtful comments made about the fact that "Your dad's gay - don't let him meet your boyfriend". These remarks are so silly, but they do make you feel that perhaps you're not fit to be a parent. One remark that made me feel that way was made by a so-called friend - "I don't think you should have access to her or spend as much time with her" Why? She said "Well after all, you're gay and not a good rôle model". Guess who's no longer a friend.
What do they know about it? Since I have been in contact with my daughter, she has a far better understanding about being in a minority group, that with a parent who is gay. Rather than just knowing that her dad is gay and left like that (as her mother did), she has a more settled homelife at my folks' place, has a brighter looking future and new interests which we enjoy together.
But, because society is so prejudiced and has so many unfounded preconceived ideas, all the good is thrown to the gutter and all focus on the fact that we are gay and don't engage in "meaningful" relationships in same sex partnerships. BULLSHIT. It's my opinion that these people should look in before they look out. We all know that physical, verbal and sexual abuse takes place in what society calls "The normal family unit".
It's time society stopped being so narrow-minded and treat us all the same as straight parents. We do have rights as gay parents, it's just a bit harder to go through the system. We provide our kids with a loving, caring and happy lifestyle. Our main interest is their upbringing and their future and not, as some say, a status symbol.
I would be pleased to hear form gay fathers, especially if they're having problems as we don't have a lot of support or social get-togethers etc. I guess that's because it is only recently that gay fathers are starting to stand and fight for our parental rights. Perhaps we could start a gay fathers group (see below).
Written by a gay and proud father.
The last word goes to the pen of my daughter:
I don't see why people are prejudiced about gay parents. I am a 15 year old girl and I have just started seeing my dad again after his access stopped nine years ago. As I no longer live with my mum, I see my dad all the time.
Some of the things that people have said about me and my dad's relationship really annoy me and make me angry. As far as I'm concerned, he's gay and he's my dad and he loves me just the same as a straight father would. I don't have a problem with my dad being gay so why should these people with their sad remarks, when they don't know what's going on or what it's like?
Although my dad's gay, he is just like any other father and only wants the best for me and we do all the things that straight fathers do with their daughters. I wish people would stop remarks like "Your dad will take your boyfriend if you let him meet him". How silly and sad can these people be? I just wish that they would keep their remarks to themselves unless they know what's going on because they don't just hurt the gay parents, they hurt their children too.
If you would like to write to Davie, send a letter to: Davie, c/o ScotsGay Magazine, or send an e-mail message to email@example.com
Prowler Press, £39.95
Heather would like to apologise for the inappropriate remarks she
made about this toy in our last issue as she has now seen this photograph.
FUN ? GAME
Photographs by Lalli
A nice big coffee table photobook. No stiffies, but a selection of rather agreeable men. Almost art, but verging on smut.
Customs of the Country
by Rupert Thomas
Virgin Publishing, £6.99
Richard Branson has added another string to his bow with his new publishing house. And of all the books I've read since writing the last review it is this one that deserves the title Book of the Month. It comes complete with a prominent warning on the cover that it is for adults only and something I've never come across in any book before is the two page Safer Sex Guidelines by the Terrence Higgins Trust. A very good idea which I hope will be emulated by other publishing houses in their books of erotic fiction. The novel itself is a very competently written account of a young man's sexual odyssey that gives him a swift education in the simple pleasures of the country. It is the story of James Cardell, a young man preparing to go to Oxford, but spending a summer with relatives in Kent. There he begins to indulge his great passion - art - and relax before the hard times studying at Oxford begins. On his arrival, James is struck by the beauty of a local man, Samuel Grainger, and this thought returns to him on many occasions. Eventually his desires are reciprocated and the young artist discovers that he is in no ordinary village. The local men indulge their secret desires in a deserted barn, and even James' relatives turn out to have their own hidden pleasures. Painting in the countryside turns out to be more concerned with ardent exploration of countrymen's fine bodies than landscapes and sunsets. Under his cousin's guidance he quickly discovers all the pleasures of his forbidden impulses and before long they both find themselves entwined within a web of youthful folly and dark erotic initiation. If you only buy one book this summer make sure it is this one!
by Geoffrey Hughes
Do you remember when you were about 10 years old and started looking in dictionaries or medical books to see if you could find any of those forbidden words so frowned upon by adults? I can, and this book brought back memories of that time. It traces the history of swearing from ancient Anglo-Saxon traditions and those of the Middle Ages, through Shakespeare, the age of Enlightenment and the Victorians, to the Lady Chatterley trials and the various current trends. It had me laughing out loud at some of the examples of foul language as perceived by the peoples of the different ages and you simply wouldn't believe what did count as swearing in times gone by. It has given me a whole new outlook on our most precious of heritages, our language. This book is a bit dry in parts but nevertheless I enjoyed bits of it tremendously.
The New Penguin Dictionary of Science
I will admit that this is not everybody's cup of tea, but for those of you who are studying science or are just interested in it as a hobby this is a great book for discovering what all those terms mean, this takes us from A to Zymase. In between of course are some more wonderful and wacky words which although we hear them from time to time we never seem to know exactly what they mean, well now is your chance to find out. At only £7.99 it is a cheap price to pay for educational purposes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. There will be more Penguin Dictionaries to come and I will let you know about these as soon as I can.
Love Shook My Senses
edited by Gillian Spraggs
The Women's Press, £7.99
This is a book full of lesbian love poems by celebrated poets such as Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Townsend Warner and Sappho. They are beautiful and moving, and many are self-reflective.
by Alma Fritchley
The Women's Press, £6.99
When Letty's lover Anne sets off for a US-wide lecture tour, Letty prepares for a few weeks alone on her farm. That's until Anne's sister shatters her peace, because along with her is her dead lover's daughter - a wild but appealing five year old - and wherever they go trouble is not far behind.
This is the second Letty Campbell mystery, and is just as good, if not better than the first.
by Isabel Miller
The Women's Press, £6.99
When Laurel comes to visit Lucille after twenty years, Lucille is plunged into memories of their first momentous meeting and the bittersweet years that followed. Mesmerised by Laurel's youth, attraction and untameable nature, Lucille has longed to break free from the stifling attitude of her generation and the seemingly disastrous trail that her relationships have formed.
But first she has to be prepared to give this beautiful woman her heart and soul and to live with the consequences. This is a true lesbian love story.
The three American subjects of Howard Roffman's best selling photography book "THREE" romp around London and their bedroom in various states of dress and undress (mostly boxer shorts which they seem to like pulling on and off at any opportunity). More a documentary about life in a 3some than anything else but shot with artistic sensitivity and an eye for a willy too!
That vast TV public who loved Jennifer Aniston in "Friends" on their TV screens will be eager for "The Object Of My Affection" (15) which has one of the most original plotlines of the year. She has doubts whether she wants to share a flat with her boyfriend with whom she argues too much. The ideal compromise is sharing with a gay guy, Paul Rudd, who has just parted with his lover. They get on so well that when she finds she is pregnant and decides to keep the baby she and Paul make a decision they will bring up the child together.
However, she unwisely lets herself fall in love with him, possibly because he admitted having had sex with a girl he took to the high school dance. We know there are females out there who resolutely believe they can turn gay men straight. But I feel sure Miss Aniston in not one of them. Reality is lost in the script when she expects him to give up men for her many charms. Consequently the last ten minutes of the production are not flattering to her. That aside it is an astute comedy you will enjoy.
"Love And Death On Long Island" (15) is a very curious film to make involving a mature British writer, John Hurt, and his infatuation with a young American actor, Jason Priestley, who lives on Long Island. After collecting hin movies on video and viewing them endlessly John goes to America to track his idol down to tell him he loves him. It all takes a long time to happen and only the consummate style of Mr Hurt's acting, makes it tolerable. It was made by a first time director and screenplay writer who must have been convinced of its box office potential, but I doubt his judgment. Maybe the novel it is based on, by Gilbert Adair, is more fascinating.
It is a pleasant change to find an alternative to Woody Allen making family sagas in New York City. "The Daytrippers" (15) is the first feature film directed by Greg Mottola who also wrote the script and has packed high drama and comedy in 87 minutes that held my attention. Hope Davis finds a love poem in her husband's (Stanley Tucci) clothes and chooses to discuss it with her parents, sister and her husband. Could he be having an affair she asks them?
They all squeeze into the family car and head for the big city to find he has had the day off from his publishing firm. Hope's mother cajoles her to track him down and find out who this woman could be. But when they finally find him at a party he is kissing a man on the lips.
Nick Broomfield is a documentary film maker who specializes in controversial subjects like one on Heidi Fleiss who ran a call girl service in Hollywood. Not being a fan of a group called Nirvana the name Kurt Cobain meant nothing to me till Nick's latest documentary "Kurt And Courtney". Lead singer and song writer Kurt and his wife, Courtney Love, were heavy drug users it seems, and mystery surrounded his death in 1994, shot dead with a rifle, which was reported at the time to be suicide, but it was later revealed there were no fingerprints on the weapon. Courtney, who had her own pop group as well as a new career as an actress, was reputed to have been on the point of being divorced by Kurt for infidelity. If that had happened she would have received a few million dollars in settlement. But, on his death, she would have inherited all his assets.
Nick Broomfield has produced the most revealing documentary on American show business ever made which shows Courtney Love an a tough and very violent woman which will be something to bear in mind if she continues her acting career.
Harrison Ford mostly chooses hie films very shrewdly and he has done it again with "Six Days Seven Nights" (12). It has received its share of pre-publicity as his leading lady is the blonde and winsome Anne Heche who was happy to tell the world awhile ago she was a lesbian and living with that popular lady starring in the TV series "Ellen".
In our story Anne is an efficient assistant editor of a fashion magazine who is taken by her fiance, David Schwimmer of the "Friends" series, for a magical holiday on a South Seas island. But her boss phones with an emergency requesting her to go to Tahiti for a day to supervise a picture session. She hires rough and rugged aviator Harrison to fly her there in his small plane, but there is a freak storm making them crash on the shore of one of the thousands of islands locally. You don't need to know all their extraordinary adventures, but they are well worth watching. David schwimmer looks good enough to eat and I can see why many people of both sexes would be happy to spend time with the lovely Miss Heche.
It is a rare delight to see an Asian film made in Britain by an Asian director and a mostly Asian cast. But, tragically, not every Asian is going to be pleased with "Guru In 7" (18) in which the leading man, to prove his virility, chooses to bed seven different women in one week. Shani Grewal took on a mammoth tank in writing, producing, directing and editing a movie that took years and every kind of penny pinching to complete. If his hero is not the Asian ideal I hope he finds the success he needs with other audiences.
Nitin Chandra Ganatra plays an artist whose art has yet to be recognized which is why he doesn't want to commit himself to marriage to longtime girlfriend Ernestina Quarcoo. When she goes to America for a week his friends tell him he will become a guru if, in her absence, he can seduce seven women and they bet him he can't. There are those amongst us who may remember Michael Caine cornering this market amusingly with this theme years ago in "Alfie".
Anyone travelling to London till 25th July can find leading man Nitin in two plays in repertory at the Young Vic Theatre at Waterloo -"Twelfth Night" and "As I Lay Dying". In them he gives performances every Asian can be proud of.
These young men must have incredible charm when persuading people to spend money making films. A couple of years ago 21 year old Tom Waller managed to organize the finance of a movie he was obsessed to direct which opens at the and of July called "Monk Dawson" (18). John Michie decides at an opulent public school he wishes to become a priest, but practising as one makes him realize his values can be much different from his church which he renounces for an active sex life. The guilt conscience so many of the British have about sex and nudity makes him decide he has been a bad boy and he becomes a monk in an order forbidden to speak.
Young Mr Waller has put together an effective movie with a welcome appearance of Martin Kemp an a villainous Fleet Street editor, who brings great sex appeal to anything he does. But in the next Waller production I hope he bears in mind the success of "4 Weddings And a Funeral" and "The Full Monty". For, if your leading man is suffering needlessly throughout much of your film with sexual guilt, your audience might not be pleased as they leave the cinema.
Director Robert Altman persuaded the prolific thriller writer John Grisham to give him an original screenplay which to "The Gingerbread Man" (15) shot in Savannah. Georgia which Mr Altman has filled with mystery and intrigue. Kenneth Branagh is a lawyer whose one night stand with a waitress, Embeth Davidtz, becomes complicated when he finds her mental case father, Robert Duvall, is stalking her. Before long be finds the father is stalking him too with rifle in hand. The delicious and delectable Robert Downey Jr reacts like a robot to the Branagh bidding. Could keep you on the edge of that seat!
Conmen know how to do it in Russia. In "The Thief" leading man Vladimir Machkov dresses as an army officer to fool his victims. His commanding style gains him access to households where he robs anyone or anything that appeals to him. If I was going to be robbed by anyone I would have been happy for it to have been by Mr Machkov - after he had spent the night. Humble soldiers in Russia don't command quite as much respect as, when the authorities are short of money, the men are not paid who can be found begging on the streets.
Never having been to Berlin I am attracted to any film about it. "Life is All You Get" tells the tribulations of a family that could happen anywhere when a young man finds himself between guys on the run and plain-clothes policemen chasing them. He ends up in a prison call with a large fine to pay. The moral might be take a book or your knitting with you never dropping a stitch and only a few remarks while witnessing street punch-ups. The German cast are attractive and you can decide if the Berlin flavour appeals before booking that flight.
"Godzilla" (PG) is impressive for mind-blowing special affects and the most rousing sound effects you are likely to hear in a cinema. But as a child delinquent I was taken to the National Film Theatre in London to see "King Kong" made in 1933 and nothing since has been able to top it. Giant apes terrorizing New York will always appeal to American audiences and quite a few British audiences I imagine.
"Taste Of Cherry" (PG) is as wierd a film as they come, possibly because Iranians have a different idea of entertainment than other people. A man who needs help committing suicide drives through deserted parts of Iran offering money to guys who will cover him with earth when they find him in a hole the morning after he has taken sleeping pills. I want to see films about wealthy Iranians with the magnificent architecture their country has in abundance.
Americans know how to handle potential suicide onscreen. In "Dream With The Fishes" (18) David Arquette is not getting enough satisfaction out of studying the couple opposite through binoculars. The troubles of his life make him decide to kill himself by jumping off the local high bridge. Miraculously the male half of the couple he has been watching, Brad Hunt, turns up pointing out there is no guarantee he will die in that jump and offers him an overdose of sleeping pills in exchange for his watch. I won't list the comical repercussions. It's not too surprising that Hollywood scriptwriters know how to handle the subject a fraction more entertainingly than Iranians.
Child sex abuse is not something I wish to hear about onscreen for any reason whatsoever. Documentaries about it on TV have helped alleviate the sufferings of British children end I am grateful to Esther Rantzen for initiating Childline over ten yearn ago so anyone with this problem has a number to ring for advice. "A Thousand Acres" (15) tells of a dominating father, Jason Robards, distributing his wealth amongst three daughters and one of them, Michelle Pfeiffer, recalls him sexually molesting them in their youth. Michelle and Jessica Lang give great performances, but the subject matter appalled me.
Julie Walters has always been over-endowed with talent and the ability to play most ages in most accents. She excels herself in "Girls' Night" (15) when she and fellow factory worker, Brenda Blethyn win £100,000 in their northern bingo ball only to have their lives ruined when Brenda finds she is dying of cancer. Her dream ambition has always been to visit Las Vegas and, despite protests, Julie tells her the tickets are booked and they are leaving within the hour. Brenda's husband and teenage children are thinking of reporting her as a missing person when she phones to tell them she is sunbathing for a week. Cowboy Kris Kristofferson adds novelty to their trip and, if you enjoy a good cry in the dark, you must see "Girls' Night".
"Dark City" (15) is for science fiction lovers who are prepared to accept the thought that a world of "Strangers" below are governing our minds when they want to, the idea of which makes me giggle more than tremble. A part of Rufus Sewell's memory is taken away so, when he is accused of murder, he can't be certain he didn't do it. William Hurt is a detective chasing him through some of the most bizarre sets ever constructed. If only I could lose myself in a dream world of science fiction!
I felt the same watching "Wishmaster" (18) which is for lovers of horror. A genie is woken from a sleep of a thousand years wreaking evil and destruction. You won't believe the plot. But it has the cleverest special effects for many years.
1. Binary Finary - Paul Van Dyk Remix (Aquarius)
2. Amoeba Assassin - Rollercoaster (Oakey's Courtyard Mix / Listen & Feel Live Mix) (Perfecto Mainline)
3. Dolls Head - It's Over, It's Under (Brothers In Rhythm Instrumental) (MCA)
4. Serpico 2 EP - Dreamscape (Green)
5. Cevin Fisher's Big Freak - The Freaks Come Out (Subversive)
6. Hydra - The Hydra EP (B1) (Green)
7. Danny J Lewis - Spend The Night (Santiago Blue Remix) (Locked On)
8. Control Z - Dreaming Of You (Mantra Remix) (Automatic)
9. Eve 23 (Eve)
10. The Usual Suspects - Daydreemin' (Remixed by Mr C) (End)
11. Hardy Hard - Here Comes That Sound (Dr Rhythm'S Magic Trip Mix) (Low Sense)
12. S.P.Q.R. and Mental Pabvivm - Mantras (Telica)
13. B*witched - C'Est La Vie (Skynet Fahrenheit Dub) (Epic)
14. Herwig Maurer - Cyklik (Nuw Idol Remix) (Zoom)
15. Square Window - Don't Walk Just Wander (Torinention Remix) (Electric M.E.L.T.)
16. Sweet Peach - Take U Up (Steve Thomas Mix / T-Total Mix) (99 o)
17. D-Bop - Feel Like Dancing (D-Bop Original Mix) (Fluff)
18. Billy Hendrix - Body Shine (KS)
19. Angelique Kidjo - Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (Qattara Mix) (Island)
20. First Light - Atlas (Green)
Recently I took myself and a few friends up to the Stag & Turret in Montrose Terrace for a night out. After all the rumours I heard I didn't expect too much, but boy was I in for a shock! Everyone was made welcome by the friendly and delightful new manageress Karen and her four dedicated assistants. The music was a good mix of old and new - just like the customers - and the atmosphere in the place was alive with real people, not your plastic "I love me too" people you seem to get in a lot of the other bars.
Anyway I had a great time and although the pub does need some work done to it (and Karen has plenty of tricks up her sleeve to sort that out) it is the people that bring the character and atmosphere to the place, not the decor. I predict that this is going to end up as one of Edinburgh's hot spots in the gay community.
Just to finish off I asked Karen a few questions: on where the pub was going from here and what changes she wanted to make to make the Stag & Turret a great success...
Heather: Why did you decide to take over the Stag & Turret after the mysterious disappearance of the last owner?
Karen: It is a great business opportunity and I feel that we have something to offer the gay community of Edinburgh.
Heather: Does that mean the S&T is staying a gay pub?
Karen: Because of our location we are a gay friendly pub but we will always be predominantly gay.
Heather: Do you feel that not being directly in town has an affect on custom?
Karen: No, because we are close to all the other gay pubs and clubs and there is a large gay community in this area who are fast becoming locals.
Heather: You have a DJ in on a Fri & Sat night do you have any other entertainment ideas?
Karen: Not at the moment, but we are currently looking at bringing back the karaoke and we are also looking at alternative comedy nights.
Heather: What are you going to do with the upstairs of the S&T?
Karen: It will be staying as a pool room but it will also be open for private functions.
Heather: Now that you have taken over what will be your major changes?
Karen: The whole place will be redecorated and I am also looking at bringing in a 2am licence. I want to change the whole pub into a happy, friendly and welcoming place to be.
Heather: Will you still have a woman's night?
Karen: I am not prepared to have a weekly women's night but in the future I would like to run it fortnightly, saying that the upstairs pool room is predominantly women.
Heather: Will you be doing meals and if so what type?
Karen: I won't be doing meals as such but I will be introducing bar snacks (nachos, toasties etc.) and I will be installing a fresh coffee machine within the next two weeks.
Heather: Now there have been comments made about the loos in the pub - do you have any response?
Karen: Although the decor is not to everyone's taste they are clean and fresh, the women's toilets are to be decorated imminently and the men's to follow in the near future.
Heather: What would you like to say to anyone who has never been to the S&T?
Karen: If you want a friendly night out with a good atmosphere, loads of fun, plenty of cheap booze and good music come along.
Heather: And finally I heard you wanted to change the name of the S&T. Do you have any ideas what to?
Karen: I want to get the customers involved with name change and I am running a competition to get a new name for the bar.
ScotsGay: a bi-monthly magazine for lesbians, gays and bisexuals edited, printed and published in Scotland. ISSN: 1357-0595. © Pageprint Publishing
Limited, June 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.
Assistance: Gareth Dixon. Contributors in this issue:
Feòrag NicBhrìde, Garry Otton & Derek Ogg
(Features), Liquid Silk, Nigel Chipps, Minerva, Calmac, Dr. Kenniff & `Matron' Hattie (Scene), Rex Wockner (International), Martin Walker (The Nice Bit), `Davie'
(Outlook), Justin Milne, Andy Martin, Heather White, 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. Assistance: Gareth Dixon. Contributors in this issue: Feòrag NicBhrìde, Garry Otton & Derek Ogg (Features), Liquid Silk, Nigel Chipps, Minerva, Calmac, Dr. Kenniff & `Matron' Hattie (Scene), Rex Wockner (International), Martin Walker (The Nice Bit), `Davie' (Outlook), Justin Milne, Andy Martin, Heather White, 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.
ScotsGay Front Page
Switchboards and Helplines
InsideOut | Venues | Boxes | Listings | Switchboards and Helplines
© 1998 ScotsGay Magazine