In the press – 1993-1995
Many thanks to Martin Weaver for pointing me to the British Library in regard to newspapers etc. I have found some snippets of how gay men and lesbians were portrayed in the tabloids at the time – interestingly, The Sun didn’t appear in any of my searches!!!
So to begin with, The Sandwell Evening Mail on the 22nd July 1993 page 18, does print the fact that the gay serial killer that was about during my first march was caught. So, not front-page news, it’s pushed to the right-hand side of the page, in a small column – less than 100 words!! One of his victims is named AND his HIV status disclosed along with where he lived… this victim was number four out of five.
Daily Mirror, on 27th May 1994 page 17, we have a bit of Government sleaze here, nice and tantalising…. all in one box, two paragraphs… The sleaze?? ‘Tories in gay cash storm‘ – Apparently Tory MP’s ‘were outraged over the revelation that gay civil servents with partners are paid a bigger relocation grant than a single man or woman. Gay civil servants who have been in a relationship or more than 6 months get the same deal as a married couple‘. – So our civil service has given the same rights to same-sex couples as married ones since the 1990s, but an MP that is single is having an issue with this – the MP is single, but it’s a storm nonetheless – but considering the size of the news, it’s in a teacup!
Back to Sandwell Evening Mail on 26th July 1994 page 7, who at this point I think have a real issue with gay stories, as this again, in the right-hand side, but one paragraph! – So, here goes! ‘GAY LOVE – gay men are more interested in romance and long term relationships than sex, according to a survey in an American gay magazine’ – yup that’s your lot!
Now for some arts and culture, courtesy of The Stage 12 January 1995 page 3 Southport have got themselves into a bit of bother, they had a ‘Shock walk-out’ as a ‘gay play‘ was on. It was a musical (shocker I know) about Champagne an alcoholic drag act who had a relationship with his stagehand. The first night was a small audience, ‘mostly middle-aged couples and senior citizens’ they demanded to have their money back as they considered it to be ‘explicit on-stage homosexuality‘ – The show went on apparently, ALL the audience left, so the auditorium was empty, so the cast doubled up as the audience!!!!
The Kensington Post on the 26th January 1995 page 4 – tucked in the corner – I’m seeing a pattern here LOL – ‘A gay pub plans reviewed‘ – For those that remember, this is Bromptons, in Earls Court, and according to the article, the licensees wanted to rename it ‘Stiffies’ but residents forced them to backtrack…! (So wished it was called Stiffies now!)
In the Daily Mirror March 14th 1995 page 5 – left-hand corner – the press like sticking gays in the corners of their papers during the ’90s apparently! This one is about a Bishop’s anger towards the ‘militant homosexual pressure group’ Outrage – who at the time outed politicians, celebrities and other famous people. Dr Hope, the bishop in question was the third most senior bishop in the CofE to publicly discuss his life during this time. Nowadays we just have the press outing people for the sake of selling more papers, I’m still wondering if this ‘outing’ campaign by Outrage did any good or not. I do remember thinking though if I get into TV, could I find myself in the press like this?
Some more Arts and Culture – from The Stage 20th April 1995 page 6 it is about the first-ever Pride Arts Festival, – I’m sorry, I’m laughing right now, seeing the line-up – I don’t think it would be described this way today, but here we go, the line-up – ‘Lesbian puppeteers, a queer circus (my minds going overtime on that one!) and a camp live soap opera‘. It had more than 20 events, including – hang on in there…. ‘comedy with Sandi Toksvig and a seedy sex freak show‘
Staying with the Stage, but a bit more sober here, especially as we now have hindsight with this, there was a full article on August 31st 1995 page 6 regarding Micheal Barrymore’s coming out, the headline is ‘No Sin to be gay‘ – the title underneath is very telling, but wrong, ‘Coming out will make Micheal Barrymore a hot target for the tabloids, but he will be Britain’s top performer‘ – He was a hot target, right to the point that he gave up showbusiness – if the press hates you, they will hound you to the point of no return – that is the inescapable truth of our gutter press in this country.
Now back to The Sunday Mirror on the 15th October page 5 – aside from the remake of Pride & Prejudice’s actors getting it on as they had ‘sizzling sexual tension‘ – in the right-hand section, apparently it was the opposite – ‘Fury at Condoms for prison gays‘. So an entirely different subset of gays here then! The idea behind giving out condoms to male prisoners was to keep the rate of HIV down in prison. Absolutely, couldn’t agree more – BUT the prison officers were outraged – as it suggested that ‘The prison service is saying it’s alright for prisoners to have homosexual sex with each other no matter what their age‘ – Dr Wool the director of health care for the Prison Services stated though ‘Prisoners do not have the opportunity to purchase across the counter medication or devices or dressings and therefore must be supplied by the prison doctor‘.
Lastly, sticking with The Mirror on 9th December 1995 page 9, with Victor Lewis-Smith. He has given a portion of his page to ‘Cancel these gay outings‘ – Apparently, he wasn’t OK with Sandy Toskvig ‘banging on about being a lesbian‘ (his words NOT MINE) – he’s just not OK with the ‘long line of broadcasters who insist that we should know all about their unconventional sexual orientation‘ He would prefer that, ‘...she’d go back in again. And shut the door behind her‘.
The next instalment of The news in the ’90s will be in a fortnights time!