By Permission of G.M. Glaskin

THE FASCINATING CROSSCURRENTS in the life of G.M. Glaskin charted by Carolyn van Langenberg in Over-land 164—spring 2001 were extremely illuminating.

In her final paragraphs she notes that she was “not able to find a copy of No end to the way, a novel he [Glaskin] wrote under a pseudonym when writing queer was not mainstream.”

While I doubt that writing queer is now or has ever been mainstream, having read No end to the way’ I’d also question whether or not the ‘queer’ label could be fitted to it. I don’t intend to do so.

I first encountered the book in a newsagent in Gympie in 1974. I’d arrived there on a train to North Queensland. Fresh from the cocoon of Sydney, my lover and I suddenly realised that the trip North was not just a few hours, but well over twenty-four hours. We tumbled out at Gympie in our Sydney gaylibness and found a hotel room. We didn’t ask for, and weren’t offered, a double bed, so we must have passed muster as a couple of young lads.

I was at a critical stage of my life. The year be­fore, at 18 years of age, I’d enrolled at Macquarie University, aware from the final months of my sec­ondary schooling in Goulburn in 1972 that I was homosexual. Making the move to Sydney, I made contact with Gay Liberation in its headquarters at 67 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, and, at Macquarie, I joined the small gay students’ group. Macquarie University, then, was quite isolated. The bus serv­ices into the city were infrequent. I arranged ac­commodation in the still being built Anglican-run Robert Menzies College.

It was a difficult time. I felt isolated. I was unable to share the knowledge of my sexual orientation with my parents, and the (at that time) all-male students at Robert Menzies College were much more into football and sport than ever I was or would be. My room was in a relatively empty section of the col­lege. So, even had I wanted to, I saw few of the other Menzies students.

I caught the bus (the 288 and 290) down Epping Road and into town on Fridays and Saturday nights, going to Capriccio’s in Oxford Street, the only gay venue I knew. A man picked me up there one night and took me into the Domain, where I was raped. I can put it no other way. I was 18; he was in his 30s. He had the power; I just lay there.

There was nothing to do afterwards except catch the last bus home, and hope no-one noticed the blood on my jeans. It helped that they were a russet corduroy.

Some weeks later, after another night going out and feeling very lonely, I tried to kill myself by cut­ting my wrists and overdosing on antihistamines in my room at Robert Menzies.

I was successful in that I was at one point clini­cally dead. Found by the cleaner, I was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital, which happened to be North Ryde Psychiatric Hospital,2 where I was revived and also scheduled.

My parents were contacted and came to look af­ter me. The Master of the College told my father I was possessed by a satanic mask I had on my wall. The mask was Chinese, given to me by my father as a gift from a trip to Singapore. My parents were discomfited to learn of my sexuality this way, but after reflection they told me that, while they couldn’t quite understand this homosexuality thing, above all they wanted me to be happy. They set me up in a flat in North Ryde, away from the College. They did not want me back in the care of the Master who thought Satan had possessed me.

I was naïve enough to take my story to the gay group on campus, and was listened to by the radi­cals on the students’ council. For a time I felt my­self radical, too.

At this time, the Anglican Church in Sydney had its own issues, and perhaps I was a victim of ideologi­cal struggles in the Church. The view has been put:

Leading figures were prepared to take extreme measures against known homosexuals in their ranks. In June 1973, Jeremy Fisher was con­fronted by the Reverend Dr Alan Cole . . . Cole had found gay liberation materials in Fisher’s room [in the College]. Cole demanded that Fisher live a celibate life and seek treatment as a condition for continued residence. When Fisher . . . refused, he was expelled. Fisher was sup­ported by the student union, the Builders’ La­bourers Federation (which placed work bans on a number of university building projects) and gay activists . . . While the action on Cole’s part was probably not premeditated, as late as September 1973, Australian Church Record was defending his actions, pointing to a recent opinion poll which found that only 29 per cent of people thought homosexuality was ‘right’ as evidence of “how widespread the support for Dr Alan Cole is on his stand at Robert Menzies College”.’

Today, the doctrinal view of Moore Theological College, to which institution Cole owed his training and background, is paramount in the Sydney Angli­can Archdiocese. The current Archbishop, Peter Jensen, is also from Moore Theological College, and the views he expresses are not inconsistent with those expressed by Cole.

The Anglican Church in Sydney (though not in most other Australian dioceses) continues to de­nounce homosexuality, oppose the ordination of fe­male clergy and recently even excommunicated Freemasons for keeping a faith divergent from that of Christ’s.4 In 1973, the events surrounding me caused a brief ripple on television and in print, but they affected me deeply. For instance, one morning I was taken by taxi to the Channel 7 studios in Epping to be asked by the host of a breakfast program (he is still on air) was I a communist? What did it mean that I be asked

this question before breakfasting Sydneysiders, ex­cept to try and equate the perversions of homosexu­ality and communism? I was also subjected to a terrible inquisition by the University Deputy Chancellor,’ Justice Rae Else-Mitchell. That an eminent jurist would demean a student before a university commit­tee because of the student’s sexuality seems an im­possibility these days, but it happened.

There were others who tried to make something more of my little hiccough on the road to self-ac­ceptance: “When a student, Jeremy Fisher, was ex­pelled from a residential college at Macquarie University for being gay, the BLF refused to finish part of the university until this was overturned.”6

Another perspective is: “One of the famous early battles of gay liberation was over the expelling of Jeremy Fisher from a residential college at Mac­quarie University, for being gay, in June 1973. The NSW Branch of the Builders’ Labourers Federa­tion stopped work on the uncompleted college in protest, in solidarity with gay liberation.”‘

But the aftermath to this event was the context in which I discovered No end to the way.

I had gone out in Gympie in search of some read­ing matter. It was the lurid cover of No end to the way that attracted me, the naked torso of the blond on the cover. The blurb, “A novel about hidden sex between men—penetrating—honest—telling it like it is”, suggested even more. I bundled the book below a magazine and nervously paid for it at the counter. I can’t recall the price. My copy is printed with a price of US$0.75, and it would not have been much more in Australian dollars then. Otherwise I could not have afforded it.

In hindsight, the book was an illegal import. It was first published in 1965, in the United Kingdom. My edition was published in New York in 1969. How this came to be published in the USA in 1969 is worthy of research. Nevertheless, the conventions of publishing contracts mean that the rights for Australia are unlikely to have extended to the US edition. I presume it came to be in Gympie in 1974 because, at that time, American publishers were at­tempting to extend their reach into the Australian marketplace, and some booksellers were challeng­ing the dubious practices controlling the Australian marketplace. In other words, it was likely to have been ‘dumped’, and Glaskin’s authorial rights usurped. Now, the forces of globalisation that en­courage ‘dumping’ have almost convinced all politi

cal parties in Australia that an open copyright mar­ket is a logical extension of the ‘level playing field’ so beloved of economic rationalists (but of benefit most of all to megacorporations). But I digress.

In 1974, there were few Australian gay texts about, except the ones we were writing ourselves.8 It was both a shock and thrill to begin reading No end to the way and realise it was set in Australia, in Perth of all places, though this is not immediately obvi­ous. The description of the gay bar starts to define Australia: “If the cops come in to scour round, it always looks respectable enough. And the rest of it’s a very respectable pub, one of the city’s best. Just a bit old and in need of a face-lift. Country people use it a lot, in the residential part.”9

I was taken to the Channel 7 studios and asked by the host of a breakfast
program, was I a communist? What did it mean that I be asked this ques-
tion before breakfasting Sydneysiders in 1973, except to try and equate
the perversions of homosexuality and communism?

Cor, the blond ‘god’ Ray Wharton, the narrator, falls for, is from Holland. He studied architecture there, but didn’t finish, not that it matters in Aus­tralia. “`I’d still have to do it all again. Europe’s architecture just won’t do for Australia,’ he adds. And it’s not just sarcasm, but more a kind of light amusement. ‘Like medicine and law, and several other things,’ he goes on, ‘and the whole silly point of it rubs you raw, you almost hate the country, the way it wantonly makes so much waste of its new migrants and, much more personally, treats people like yourself as some kind of criminal.'”

The book says a great deal about Australia in the 1960s, especially life in the West: “His guest from the east is fattish, fortyish, with red hair going bald, freckles. Bruce tells you he’s the chairman of some government tribunal, just visiting the state for a few days before going back again.”” It is also overtly gay, and this is why I shrink from labelling it queer. The pub is “the kind of pub the gays always seem to pick out and make their own, the world over”u (an early Australian use of `gays’). Ray has gone there for “the ones that aren’t obvious . .. that most everybody wants; what’s called ‘rough trade’ or, if it’s not so rough, just ‘trade’. Casual adven­turers. Or week-end dabblers. Sometimes only once­a-month, once-a-year. And bisexuals. There’s no end to the variety of types in the game.” The ref­

erence to bisexuals is important: Cor turns out to be married, and a bisexual. And this leads to the true gay conclusion to the book, not a ‘queer’ one: “But about six months later you get another short letter, just to say that he’s marrying again, to an Australian girl this time, yes a real girl, but one who understands, he says. Her father owns a string of chain stores; he’s taking her up to the north of Queensland, to manage one of them. If there’s one thing he can’t face, he says, it’s loneliness; just the mere prospect of it frightens him to death. And he can’t see anything but loneliness ahead of you in the gay life, not these days. So he wishes you luck, and again sends his love.””

For me, in 1974, this revelation that Ray Wharton would continue in the ‘gay life’ (the italics are in the original), while Cor departs for nervous bisexuality, was an inspiration, and evidence that there was hon­our and respect in the love I had been blessed with. Jackson (Glaskin) keeps his narrator proudly, de­terminedly gay. That I identified so strongly with this is perhaps due to the book’s best feature. It is written, intriguingly, in sustained second person, a technical device that gives it both an intimacy with the reader, for the ‘you’ is ‘me’ and a narrative dis­tance I did not first appreciate. In terms of the point of view, the reader is continually seeing through the eyes of the narrator: “Impossible to think that he was the first one to seduce you, when you were just eighteen, almost as many years ago. The first one after Uncle Key, that is.”” That leads, like this, to other understandings outside the ‘ego’ of the reader. However, Glaskin successfully manipulates the sec­ond voice so that the reader identifies, and distances, but ultimately must accept a ‘gay’ (homosexual) narrative point of view. By avoiding the first person, Glaskin allows his readers to place themselves in Ray Wharton’s place (“you get another letter”), and even understand “Uncle Key” (the 16-year-old uncle has sex with his much younger nephew Ray, a relation­ship that lasts for some years until Uncle Key is killed on his motorbike at twenty-one).

Read today, No end to the way is still as strong a text as when I read it in 1974. Then, though, it was a revelation: a work that actually described a world not so dissimilar to my own at the time, where men in Australia went to bars and met other men. And younger ones might be raped.

There are some difficulties that distance brings to the fore. There is a concentration on social status that seems at odds with the other liberated views of the narrator. For example, Ray wonders what a school teacher and a shop assistant (Roy and Andy) are likely to have in common, and is briefly disappointed when he finds out that Cor is a bar steward in a club, since it doesn’t align with his own job as an advertising agent.

Still, in 1974, my point of view as reader helped define the greater narrative of that work for me, the meta-narrative. It seemed to be speaking with my voice but, now I can see the narrative technique at work, that was an illusion that use of the second person can create.

Nevertheless, it was the first book I read of which

I could say “this has a homosexual point of view”, and it was Australian as well.

There is some doubt about the existence of ho­mosexual narrative. Dennis W. Allen’° has explored some ways “to open a space for homosexual narra­tive that is more than just the subplot of heterosexu­ality,”” since he posits that market forces are the true arbiter for all points of view in cultural expres­sion. In analysing the “hetero-narrative” that pro­vides the “cultural story of the individual’s progress through the ‘inevitable’ cycle of love, marriage and family”,” Allen suggests that there may be no such thing as a homosexual narrative: “If the traditional function of the coming-out narrative has been to recount the individual’s discovery of his or her emer­gent (gay) identity and hence to retroactively con­stitute that identity . . . what becomes clear . . . is that its function is really to constitute not gay but straight identity.”19

In No end to the way, it could be argued that use of the second person helps keep the `hetero-narra­tive’ in place: “And there are just the ones you need: young Roy and Andy, a pleasant enough couple, especially now they’ve been married to each other—what is it?—five, six years? They’re always safe so far as competition is concerned; never want anyone else but each other.”2°

But the italics are in the know—mocking. Roy and Andy are in the ‘gay life’, after all.


  1. Neville Jackson, No end to the way, MacFadden­Bartell Books, New York, 1969. The copyright date is 1965, and the paperback edition I have states it is the “complete text of the hardcover edition”. The copyright notice is extended with this comment: “Published by arrangement with G.M. Glaskin.”
  2. There was an interesting outcome to this. Some years later, in 1987, after the end of a long relationship, I wondered if I wasn’t too fond of alcohol. My G.P. sent me to a Macquarie Street psychiatrist, who spent the first two (and only) sessions I had with him apologis­ing to me for not assisting me more in 1973, when he was registrar at North Ryde. He hadn’t ‘come out’ himself then, and he’d spent years worrying about the treatment he’d given me. Needless to say, I no longer worry about my drinking (and I drink much less).
  3. Graham Willett, Anglicanism and homosexuality in the 1970s, <>, p.27.
  4. Malcolm Brown, ‘Freemasons lockout embroils archbishop’, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 2002, p.5.
  5. The Chancellor at the time was one Justice Garfield Barwick of the High Court of Australia. It is not recorded that any confrere of the Prime Minister of the time ever accused Barwick, under parliamentary privilege, of having sex in any way, shape, place or form. This was not the case with another Justice of the High Court, Michael Kirby, whose only fault was his honesty in admitting that he was gay. The people who call us ‘dogs’ are still with us, and we must continue to resist them.
  6. Anonymous, ‘From struggle to sex-obsession—what happened to sexual liberation?’ < 3814.html>, p.3.
  7. Verity Burgmann, Power and protest, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1973, pp.160-161.
  8. J.A. Fisher, ‘Fragments’, GLP: A journal of sexual politics, January–February 1975, pp.62-67.
  9. Ibid, Jackson, p.11.
  10. Ibid, Jackson, p.20.
  11. Ibid, Jackson, p.44.
  12. Ibid, Jackson, p.11.
  13. Ibid, Jackson, p.11.
  14. Ibid, Jackson, p.191.
  15. Ibid, Jackson, p.12.
  16. Dennis W. Allen, Modern Fiction Studies, 1995, vol.41, no.3-4, pp.609-634.
  17. Ibid, Allen, p.612.
  18. Ibid, Allen, p.613.
  19. Ibid, Allen, p.621.
  20. Ibid, Jackson, p.10.

Jeremy Fisher is completing his Doctorate in Creative Arts at the University of Technology, Sydney. He is the author of a novel for children, Perfect Timing (Pascal Press), and numerous stories, articles and poems.

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