Remembering Michael Mason
Andrew Lumsden (Olds 1955-1959) writes: I’ve lost a friend of 35 years with the death at 67 on I February 2015 of Michael Mason (Sanderson’s 1960-1965). Those of our contemporaries who weren’t lucky enough to remain in touch with him will now be well aware of his unique contribution to British and even to Californian life from his obituaries in the national press (see on this site the Guardian, the Independent and the Daily Telegraph). I missed encountering him at Lancing by one year, for I was in Olds from 1955-1959, but he did coincide with my youngest brother David Lumsden (Olds 1963-1968), whom some may remember as a talented cricketer. In his last months Michael longed to see the famous 1978 Rose Window of the College Chapel, where he was in the Choir, but was never well enough for us to take him. The Head Master’s staff promised a fine welcome and that they’d take every care of him. Great fun has been had in the national newspapers about his leisure activities beneath the dais in Great School, but it’s a tribute to his 21 years as a campaigning journalist – I should correctly write the campaigning journalist - managing, owning and editing gay papers from 1974-1981, that even revered Lancing has enjoyed the joke. By the time he was 19 in 1966 he had for years been a habitual criminal in the eyes of the law, as the famous Alan Turing (Sherborne 1926-1931) was until his death in 1954. When Michael reached 20 the Church backed the House of Lords and the Commons in a partial decriminalisation of adult gay men (1967 Sexual Offences Act) but he remained personally illegal for another year, for the Act prescribed that gay men must reach 21 before they could take a lover or in any other way engage physically with one another. All that nonsense has been swept aside in the Britain of today, not least because of Michael Mason OL. We met when I too was a campaigning journalist and for a brief period (1981-1983) two out of the three principal providers of accurate information for young LGBT people in Britain were Lancing College Old Boys. The third provider, Michael’s colleague Graham McKerrow, was an Old Boy of the Dragon School, Oxford (1962-1966).
Michael supported the Albert Kennedy Trust, which helps LGBT 16-25 year olds who are made homeless or are living in a hostile environment. Donations in Michael’s memory can be made via the trust site at www.akt.org.ukor by post to the Albert Kennedy Trust, Unit 112, Cremer Business Centre, Cremer St, London E2 8HD.