Witch week

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sat Nov 8 19:54:52 EST 2003


deborah wrote:
>On Sat, 8 Nov 2003, Charles Butler wrote:
>|"The fact that it has been put in terms of magic (or impossibility) has
>|distanced the problem (which may actually be one painfully near to most
>|children, like secret fears or racial difference) so that it can be walked
>|around, followed through and, if possible, solved in some way."
>|
>|Possibly she had homosexuality, amongst other things, in mind when she wrote
>|'secret fears'? Though if so it would be an uncharacteristically coy phrase.
>
>Interesting, Charlie!
>
>At the time WW was written, how much was homosexuality in the public
>eye?

The Gay Liberation Front began to be active in England in the late
sixties/early seventies, partly as a response to gangs of
"queer-bashing" thugs having killed several people for the crime of
homosexuality and to the police having been less than enthusiastic in
their attempts to catch the perpetrators as soon as the sexual
orientation of the victims became known. It was a fairly high-profile
nastiness that called for fervent reaction, and I reacted somewhat
fervently, being young and idealistic.... I invented the "10% of people
in London are gay" figure for the benefit of the Press back in the very
early seventies, possibly even as early as 1969, on a pro-homosexual
rights demo *before* the one Peter Tatchell claims as the first, which
was the first *Gay Pride* march in July 1972. I'm always amused that
this figure of 10%, which I took straight off the top of my head simply
because it sounded easy for the idiot reporters who were hassling me to
remember, has been being quoted ever since: as far as I know it has no
basis in fact of any kind.

It is entirely possible that DWJ, a sensible and open-minded lady, had
sympathy with the plight of the gays in the community even before the
high-profile protesting began.

>-deborah, who at 30 is older than many people here but still hasn't
>lived as an adult in a world without high visibility of no-hetero
>sexualities?

I am old enough to have had three friends who committed suicide when
their non-hetero sexual orientation was made public.  I am very, very
glad that this is now less likely to happen, and that young homosexuals
are no longer treated almost universally as pariahs.  I am glad that
being overtly homosexual no longer leads to both persecution and
prosecution for so many people -- maybe not 10%, but even one person
hounded to death for what is really no business of anybody but
him/herself and his or her partner is one person too many.

Sorry; that pushed a deep-feeling button.  Not a subject I find it easy
to be calm about.  I'd like to believe that DWJ was a sympathiser about
the loathesome treatment meted out to gays back when she wrote WW, even
ten years later than the first loud screaming fuss.  There were still a
lot of inequities and a lot of prejudice and nastiness in the eighties;
still are in many places and communities even now, hard though that may
be to believe.  :-(

Minnow
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