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Sunday, 22 January 2023



                                                                   Copyright: Alan Joy


In 1988, the young LGBT activist Alan Nichols, better known in the LGBT community as Alan Joy, repainted the Stonewall Café above the office in the Gay Centre, and renamed it the Blue Moon Café [See Out There: Scene, Non-Scene, and Unseen,]. Alan then curbed a bit of his activism and made a success of the (old) Blue Moon with the help of two Scottish ladies called Siobhan and Catriona.

According to Alan,“The political people used to think that the people who went to the gay bars and got drunk or whatever were just airheads and not bothering about, and all the political people were boring. And they just never mixed. So the café was a way of getting people to talk to other people that they maybe would never have talked to in the past.”

During the early 1990s, Alan invited the clientèle in the Blue Moon to ‘Joy club nights’ in various nightclubs in Edinburgh. According to Alan, ‘We really did mix it up, you could have one of those techno tunes and then you played Madonna and then you played Rupert the Bear and then you would play whatever, a bit of Bee Gees, ‘Night Fever or something like that, party music, and just mix it all up.’

Alan Joy’s community and entrepreneurial activities helped LGBT life in Edinburgh to come out of the underground of the 1970s and 1980s. During the 1980s the international renowned Fire Island bar above Princes Street (opened by Bill Grainger in 1978, inspired by SMG’s social activities, and closed in 1988 ) was reached by finding an obscure doorway and climbing the stairs to a grimy version of what is now the first floor of Waterstones bookshop. Now everybody could attend the publicly accessible Joy club nights instead. There was no Eartha Kitt, but there was unfettered jollity and bonding.

And there were no cages in the basement where the naked gimps took the heat from lucky toffs who’d been given a key. I learnt about how this felt from a former gimp in Fire Island while drinking with him in Planet in about 2018.

Alan Joy and his partner Colin opened the very gay friendly Regent Bar on Montrose Terrace, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh in 2003 as a peaceful and relaxing alternative to the LGBT bars on the Top of Leith Walk, and the more pretentious New Town Bar on Dublin Street. The property on Montrose Terrace was closed before Alan and Colin started up, though it had been open as the Regent Buffet during the 1950s. Alan and Colin were previously the proprietors of the Blue Moon Café on Broughton and Barony Streets that evolved from the smaller café in the Gay Centre at 60 Broughton St. They were later the proprietors of the celebrated Nom de Plume restaurant, above the LGBT Centre which by then had relegated itself to the basement.

The Regent closed on 23rd March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but re-opened on 4th August 2020 at 4pm. It re-opened for a second time on 17 May 2021.

I ate and drank in the Regent on numerous occasions between 2005 and late 2021, and have many happy memories. It does tremendous credit to the LGBT community of Edinburgh. The owners treat the bartenders as well as they can within the constraints imposed by our socio-political system, and that reflects on how the bar staff treat and address the customers, The food is usually modestly priced and deliciously cooked.

SHRG, formerly SMG was renamed ‘Outright Scotland’ in 1992. The group continued to effectively campaign for changes in Scottish Society, its laws, institutions, and systems, while attempting to eradicate oppression, discrimination, and prejudice against LGBT people. The group also tried to create an environment of care and support for those who do suffer unfair treatment on account of their sexuality or gender identity.

Outright Scotland received no public funding and depended on a small, hard-working group of committed activists. They struggled with the highly repressive Section 28, approved by the Thatcher Government in 1988, which stipulated that “local authorities shall not ‘intentionally promote homosexuality or publish with the intention of promoting homosexuality”.

The 1988 legislation prevented teachers from talking about LGBT+ issues in schools. Many support groups closed as result, with local authorities afraid to breach the law. Twelve years of renewed homophobic and transphobic repression had begun.

The Iron Lady ‘Thatcher the Milk Snatcher’ lost power in 1990 after the poll tax fiasco. Her brain may well still be rotting in the Styx. With the support of the Chilean dictator and mass murderer Augusto Pinochet, Prime Minister Thatcher was the victor of the highly colonialist Falkland Islands War in 1982. In the process, hundreds of abandoned young Argentinian soldiers were brutally killed and the General Belgrano (formerly the U.S.S. Phoenix) was sunk outside territorial waters by Royal Navy torpedoes with the loss of 323 lives.

It is this aggressive war-mongering, together with her consolidation of neo-liberalism with her mutual admirer President Ronald Reagan, which kept Thatcher in power. In the meantime she was able to get away with murder on the home front,

The repeal of Section 28 in 2000 created a media frenzy, and the effects of the discrimination were still reverberating 20 years later. See thenationalscot/news 16 February 2020.

The members of Outright Scotland had been working quietly away throughout the 1990s. However, bankrolled by Stagecoach owner and major SNP donor Brian Souter,. the Keep the Clause campaign spent millions on advertising the ‘dangers’ of allowing young minds to be ‘corrupted’ with knowledge of homosexuality. Stagecoach was founded in 1980. In January 2023, Stagecoach co-founder Dame Ann Gloag, and brother of Sir Brian Souter was charged with her husband and two other family members by Police Scotland in Falkirk with human trafficking.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023



After I arrived in Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, during the Fall of 1979, ahead of my family in Warwickshire, I found myself drinking in the seedy corners of the Rathskeller and then in the 602 Club with two thoughtful new Jewish friends, identical twins from Queen’s, New York. Peter, a graduate student in history, advised me that this tiny bar on the edge of the UW campus was of historical significance since the front half of the premises had once been used as a gay bar. I was intrigued by the pictures of the frightened faces lining the wall.

In 1981, rare diseases such as Kaposi’s sarcoma and Pneunocystis pneumonia were

reported among gay men in California and New York. Scientists began to suspect that

an unidentified ‘disease’ was the cause. In September 1982, the ‘disease’ was named

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

On 8 January 1982, Lysistrata, a feminist co-operative bar on Broom and Gorham Streets in Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, was destroyed by fire, having opened on New Year’s Eve, 1976. It had served as a space for feminist activists, women, and lesbians to socialize and meet in a supportive environment. A month-long investigation concluded that the cause of the fire was arson.

Fortunately, Kathryn Clarenbach (1920-1994), an early leader of the modern feminist movement in the United States and the first Chairperson of the National Organization of Women, had already fought long and hard for gay and lesbian rights. Her husband Henry Clarenbach was a delegate for Eugene McCarthy. Their son David Clarenbach took up the banner in Wisconsin, against stern opposition from the fundamentalist ‘Christians’, led by the moral crusader Rev. Richard E. Pritchard, who’d been ordained in 1944 in the old Welsh (Calvinist Methodist) Presbytery in the Presbyterian Church. Maybe the most bigoted, unChristian person I have ever had the misfortune to meet, Pritchard was of similar Ilk to the TV Evangelicals of the day such as Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Jerry Falwell.


On 25 February 1982, Lee Dreyfus, the Republican Governor of Wisconsin, signed Assembly Bill 90 into law, with Leon Rouse and David Clarenbach at his side, making Wisconsin the first state in the U.S.A. that provided anti-discrimination laws that protected gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in housing, employment, and public accommodations. In 1983, Wisconsin legalized private non-commercial acts of sex between consenting adults, and thereafter became known as the (first) Gay Rights State.

Leon Rouse and another student Eric Jernberg at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee asked their school to adhere to the spirit of Assembly Bill 90 by suspending participation in the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program if that program continued to violate the terms of the statute. Their motion was passed by the Faculty Senate, but voted down at a subsequent meeting of the general faculty. They however inspired Rick Villasenor, a student at UW Madison, who in 1985 started trying to do much the same thing to the ROTC (Army, Navy, and Airforce) program on the Madison campus

I (Tom) was born in Plymouth, Devon in 1948 into a military-minded lower middle class family, with a least one gay uncle, where I grew up kitty-corner from my Chicago-born cousin ‘Auntie’ Audrey, whose look-alike granddaughter is the lovely Anglo-Canadian BBC Asian Editor Celia Hatton. Under the influence of Auntie Audrey and her elderly parents whose photography business in Chicago had failed during the Al Capone era, I also lived the ‘American Dream’ while unaware of all its misleading falsities.

After visiting the American College Testing Program in Iowa City during 1971 and 1972, I worked as an Associate Professor in the Department of Statistics of the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1979 to 1995, with full tenure from 1980. My department was housed in the Computer Science building on West Dayton Street, but for the first four years I was expected to work part-time at the infamous Army Research Office funded Mathematics Research Center (MRC) close to Shorewood Hills.

MRC had retreated, with its director J. Barkley Rosser and in the wake of the 1970 bombing of Sterling Hall, to the isolated eleventh and twelfth floors of the WARF building at the far eastern extremity of the UW campus. When I arrived, its recently appointed director, one John Adolph Nohel, was still forcing faculty on academic research contracts to involve themselves in secret activities for the military that were illegal under state law, e.g concerning firepower and nuclear weapons, including Pershing missiles that were tested three at a time to satisfy the whims of each branch of the military. In other words, MRC was actively engaged in the same sort of ‘Army Math’ that they were involved in during during the Vietnam War era and which motivated the courageous bombers of Sterling Hall. See ‘The Struggle against Army Math’ by Madison FstP, Science for the People, 1974, Vol 6, No.1, pp24-35.

The illegal activities and homophobic attitudes at MRC were to partly motivate my attitude towards the gay discriminatory attitudes expressed by the UW Madison ROTC which was housed opposite the Computer Science building on University Avenue. I believed that whenever an institution such as a Church, a political organisation, or the U.S. Army behaves homophobically, it is more likely to be multi-phobic and to be cruelly repressive in all sorts of socio- political ways e.g. towards indigenous peoples, the mentally and physically impaired, and those made vulnerable by poverty.

In 1991 (during the Gulf War) I exposed the Mathematics Research Center’s illegal activities in an article in the Daily Cardinal. I heard over the Department of Statistics lunch table that Barry Goldwater went spare in Washington, and that John Nohel was hauled out of bed to explain his insidiousness, but I have been unable to confirm this. Anyway, MRC, a relic of what it previously was after the Army funding was moved to Cornell, quite thankfully ran out of money and vanished from Wisconsin forever.

I was finally promoted to full professor at Wisconsin shortly before I left in August 1995 to assume the Chair of Statistics at the University of Edinburgh (1995-2001).

I believe that I was hounded and seriously discriminated against at the University of Wisconsin, e.g. during 1985, because of my perceived gayness, neurodiversity, and propensity to speak the honest truth. I learnt in 1993 from a less-than-accepting colleague that an eminent Statistics professor had been hounded anddeserved everything he got’ when he ‘left his wife to live with a guy’ before leaving the department (prior to my arrival) to work at a university in New York City. The bisexual professor died tragically from complications from AIDS several years later.

In contrast, a prolifically heterosexual All-American associate professor who publicly and unashamedly dated girls attending his undergraduate classes and took them to faculty receptions, was only given a rap on the knuckles once, and that was when he dated a black student!! In 2021, he expressed his approval of the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot two black people dead during unrest in South Eastern Wisconsin, and shocked me during a Facebook discussion by asserting that the white teenage assassindeserved another chance’.

My experiences in Wisconsin followed the cruel homophobia and ableism meted out by two alpha-male Evangelical Christians in the Department of Statistics of the University of Warwick (I972-79), which I’d co-founded in June 1972. This mental cruelty led to my departure from England and to my year of suicidal ideation when a multi-phobic (e.g notoriously anti-semitic) honorary professor at Warwick pursued me to Madison in January 1981, at the invitation of John Nohel, and came after my guts. In 1982, Nohel tried to pressurise me to involve myself and an impressionable Japanese-American graduate student in a project concerning the firing of rockets at nuclear silos. I pulled out of the project, and left MRC in 1983, after which I worked full-time in the UW Department of Statistics.

I believe that some of the worst discrimination against gay people in academia comes from some alpha males and the more extreme of the closet cases, rather than well-balanced heterosexuals. I suspect that I and the Statistics professor who died from AIDS both suffered at Wisconsin at the whim of the same suspected closet case who was appointed to the Statistics department during the highly repressive 1960s. This same suspected closet case was also responsible for attracting overseas scholars to the Statistics department with strong intimations that tenure would be granted after a visiting year, but without seeking approval for the tenure intimations from the Department of Statistics Executive Committee. One Eastern European scholar with an outstanding publication record consequently moved to the U.S.A. before finding himself without a job in Wisconsin at the end of his visiting year.

Despite all the extreme pressures, academics of gay orientation are frequently highly creative in scientific terms in manners which break with existing conventions. Alan Turing (Bletchley Park and University of Manchester) and Florence Nightingale David (UCL and UC Riverside) were key examples of renowned gay statisticians with such talents, and I wouldn’t be able to name several others without unfairly outing them.

During 1983, scientists at the Louis Pasteur Institute in Paris identified the virus linked to AIDS and called it lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV).

Also in 1983, Evelyn Torton Beck, a member of the Madison Jewish Lesbian Group, was editor of Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology, a compilation of poems, essays, reminiscences and short stories, believed to be the first published collection of works by lesbian Jewish women in the United States, and a far cry from the Zionist culture that was prevalent in Israel. Indeed, my three Jewish colleagues in Statistics didn’t regard Israel as a nice place. They were also very accepting towards gay people.

In her introduction, Evelyn wrote, “Jewish invisibility is a symptom of anti-Semitism as surely as lesbian invisibility is a symptom of homophobia.” Born in Vienna, Evelyn was a professor of women’s studies, comparative literature and German at UW Madison. The anthology was critically acclaimed except in the Jewish orthodox press.

I came out at the age of 35 on Madison’s gay scene during October 1983, shortly before Halloween, on a hypomanic high, and in a desperate, confused, and messed up state following the departure of my wife and children to England and a break-up with my American girlfriend.

The first lad I ever kissed was a very compassionate 22 year old barman called Michael M., who worked in Sam’s (now Jordan’s Big Ten Pub) on Regent St, and that was all we did. Michael left sometime afterwards for another city where he reportedly died from complications due to AIDS.

The first gay customer I’d talked with in Sam’s was an aspiring Republican politician who advised me that being gay cuts across all class and socio-political boundaries. How then, I wondered, can gay people achieve equality, when there are so many divisions among them? This makes it very difficult to think in the usual political sorts of ways when contemplating LGBT equality, not to forget the complications involved when gay neurodiverse people are trying to think through the politics. Some of us simply think differently.

During this period, I haunted Rod’s, a historically significant gay leather bar concealed in the basement of the Hotel Washington on West Washington Avenue, and a short walk over the railroad tracks from the UW campus. Previously a low-rent half-way house, the hotel was created at the Milwaukee Road railway depot in 1885 as the Commercial Hotel and was destroyed by fire in 1996 while an unaccepting fireman celebrated on the street and the transgender people frantically escaped from the upper floors. The huge, eerie building was purchased by Rodney Scheel in 1975, who converted it into an intriguing multi-level complex.

A metal frame was installed somewhere between Rod’s and a speak-easy bar dating from the Prohibition called the Barber’s Closet. While I heard tales about how the much-celebrated metal frame was used in the ‘Halcyon’ days prior to my arrival, I am unable to confirm the mind-boggling stories as my main source died from AIDS.

The Club de Wash and Café de Palms on the ground floor catered to a mixed

clientèle, and the New Bar, a classy, teen friendly gay dance disco on the first floor

served as the best haven in town for gay women and trans people, where they mixed

well with the gay guys.

A jolly lady called Cheri and her demure partner ran a lesbian bar called Emily’s on

East Wilson Street before retreating to Back East. They weren’t treated well by the

authorities, and ultimately left town. According to my information, they may have been

run out of town’.

Emily’s was situated between the Essenhaus, a gay-friendly German -style

restaurant and the high quality, gay friendly Cardinal Bar and Disco owned and

managed by the Cuban-American LGBT activist Ricardo Gonzalez, who in 1989

became the first openly gay Latino elected to public office in the United States when

he was appointed to the Madison Common Council. Foremost on his agenda as

alderman was the revitalisation of downtown Madison.

The Hotel Washington Organization, run by Rodney Scheel with the help of his

brother Greg, was important in organizing gay pride events in the Madison area,

including the annual not-so-magic picnic in Brittingham Park where people

looked different in daylight and the food was dour. The hotel was an important

cultural centre, and served as a destination and venue for members of the

LGBT community from throughout the Mid-West. Rodney’s philanthropy is

celebrated in the Rodney Scheel House on Hauk St, a facility for people with

AIDS/HIV. His partner was a leading consultant psychiatrist working for

UW Hospitals and Clinics.

When I arrived in Rod’s during the Fall of 1983, the AIDS scare was intensifying. So

the sexual activities were much less frequent. The exception was Sundays, when many

of the customers took their clothes off and poured cut-price beer over each other. When Rodney died in 1990 after going insane from the AIDS virus, over 800 people attended his highly emotive funeral in the all-accepting First Congregational Church on University Avenue.

Before he passed away, Rodney said (See Isthmus, July 1990), “My customers and friends are diverse, and it is that happy quality that appeals them to me...Do everything in your power to protect yourselves and others from this disease. The AIDS epidemic is killing hundreds of people every day. We must stop it! You must do your part.”

The clientèle I met in Rod’s included many accomplished citizens, in particular,

(1) Judge George Northrup: George sat on the Dane County bench for 12 years, mainly in juvenile court, having served 7 years as court commissioner. He came across as a fair and respectful judge whenever I saw him on television. Indeed, he thought that as he was gay it was of essential importance to be fair and respectful to all minorities, in particular those who felt threatened by the system. In the bar, he was dressed in leather, and was unrecognizable as a judge.

Judge George A.W. Northrup died tragically of cancer during September 1997. He was 53.

(2) Daniel O’Brien. Assistant District Attorney for the State of Wisconsin. My good friend and advisor for many years, he and his partner visited me in Edinburgh shortly before 9/11. He and Joe Elder advised me on the content of my speech to a full faculty meeting in December 1989 when the faculty voted for ROTC to leave the UW campus. While Joe’s speech was much more classy than mine, Dan thought that I stuck the knife in, with huge impact on the faculty vote.

(3) James Koutsky Professor of Chemical Engineering, UW Madison, with a specialisation in ceramics and with an interest in my statistical techniques that used mixtures. My neighbour on Gregory Street for ten years, he advised me that ‘The human race will travel to the stars’ and that ‘God created gay and lesbian people at the beginning of time as uncles and aunts, for the purpose of providing extra support to traditional families’. I refer to this during religious discussions as ‘Koutsky’s Hypothesis’.

Jim refused to visit reactionary cities like Denver since he preferred not to inject the ‘pink dollar’ into their economies. He much preferred Saugatuck, the gay resort that overlooks Oval Beach on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Jim advocated freedom from government interference and legalisation of recreational drugs. Jim died during a party in his house in November 1994. He was aged 54.

(4) David Runyon: Professor of Art History at UW Whitewater. Runyon came across in Rod’s as a quite daunting, very cliquey figure, with a quirky entourage who joked about their warts while organising gay yacht trips on the Wisconsin river. David over-focussed on the outing of gay Republican politicians, who must have been very scared of him. David was active in the very self-centred Gay Center that consisted mainly of his cliquey acolytes, but which was quite successful in helping young gay people to come out. Once they came out, they were treated quite differently. David was a founding member of Madison’s Gay Men’s Chorale and produced and financed the long running program ‘Nothing to Hide’ on Community Access Television (WYOU). Professor Runyon produced 700 episodes of variable quality between 1981 and 2001. They are still being digitized and described by UW Archives. David died of a heart attack, in the arms of a boyfriend, in January 2001 after shovelling heavy snow. He was aged 70.

(5) Jay Hatheway. When I met Jay, he was an insightful gay activist who was concerned with outreach into the Wisconsin countryside, since he thought that isolated gay people sometimes don’t realise that there are