I am again indebted to my fellow blogger David Hunt (Tell Me David) for his continuing work on archiving radio broadcasts from the 1980s.
The latest material (here) is from Los Angeles station IMRU/KPFK in June 1982. It’s a summary of the queer-themed news items they had run in the preceding twelve months. In reality, it’s not just a summary of news from that time but also of the issues we were facing at that time. And it’s pretty eye-opening.
Parents losing custody of their children; politicians trying to de-fund any university that has an LGBT society; and the Immigration Department trying to deport a gay man who has been legally married to his partner since 1975. They’re some of the milder stories.
There’s the ‘gay de-programmers’ who kidnapped then repeatedly raped a lesbian as part of her ‘treatment’. They were acquitted on all charges. The policeman who claimed he tried to arrest a gay man by putting a gun to his head. The gun ‘accidentally’ went off, killing the gay man. A jury cleared the officer.
And there’s much more – and all in the space of twelve months. Jerry Falwell, darling of the New Right, who in the space of a single speech declares that he’s in favour of equal rights for women and blacks. Then in the same speech spells out why he’s opposed to equal rights for women and blacks!
But possibly the most chilling news story is the one about ‘the gay cancer’, Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Listening to the reporter saying, “Doctors have now tied this to a rare form of pneumonia.” and then, “Today, a new case is reported every single day.” makes my blood run cold. The early days of the AIDS crisis when they don’t even know it’s AIDS. It’s like watching a major disaster unfolding and not being able to do anything about it.
There are some good news stories: for example, the politicians weren’t successful in de-funding the universities. And Ronald Reagan’s right-wing nominee for the Senate Human Rights Committee, Sam Hart, withdrew after extensive campaigning by human rights groups.
But these were extraordinary times (although it’s hard not to draw comparisons with what’s happening nowadays.) This programme –1982-news-review.mp3 – is definitely worth a listen.