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Nautilus podcast Off course: charting the rich history of LGBT+ seafarers

8 February 2024

In the final episode of the second series from Nautilus International's podcast Off course: a sideways look at life at sea, we chat with Dr Jo Stanley, a creative historian and expert on LGBT+ maritime history.

Episode 5 is a timely listen for LGBT+ History month. Dr Stanley, alongside Paul Baker, wrote the book on LGBT+ seafarers with Hello Sailor! The hidden history of gay life at sea. Dr Stanley is also an honorary research fellow at Blaydes Maritime Centre, University of Hull.

The discussion charts how the environment onboard Merchant Navy ships often allowed for a more open exploration of sexuality and identity, with many gay men finding a sense of liberation and acceptance at sea.

The conversation has a lively look at representation, and the gendered differences of LGBT+ people at sea – where it was acceptable for some gay men to be actively recruited for entertainment and as stewards, for example, but discouraged if they were an officer.

Part of the discussion celebrates the life of a steward, Roy 'Wendy' Gibson, best known for being part of the crew of the Hull ferry Norland, which was requisitioned as a troop carrier in the 1982 Falklands conflict. Wendy was later honoured for entertaining the troops on the merchant ship.

The podcast also hears about genesis of the secret language of seafarers, particularly LGBT+ seafarers, known as Polari.

Nautilus Offcourse podcasts delve into the often hidden lives of people who spend their lives at sea, with the aim of countering public 'sea blindness' by giving an understanding of a critical industry whose work is often out of sight out of mind.

Watch out for our upcoming third series and drop us a line if you want to take part!







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