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Wanted: memories of maritime LGBT+ group Shore Leave

8 December 2020

LGBT+ History Month will be taking place in February 2021, and Nautilus is seeking to make a contribution to the event by following up an intriguing historical lead from the Union's archives.

In a 1994 edition of the NUMAST Telegraph, there is a brief story about an LGBT+ group for the Merchant Navy, called Shore Leave. The group used the headquarters of the Stonewall charity as its correspondence address, but there is nothing on record of who was behind it or what it did.

This missing piece of history was raised by maritime historian Dr Jo Stanley at a recent webinar on making the industry more welcoming to LGBT+ people. The webinar was hosted by Nautilus official Danny McGowan, who is chair of the Maritime UK Pride in Maritime Network.

Mr McGowan said: 'As part of Pride in Maritime’s work, we are planning how we can commemorate LGBT+ History Month, and it would be great if anyone who remembers Shore Leave could get in touch, so that part of our hidden history in the predecessors of Nautilus can be celebrated. My email address is:'

  • Dr Jo Stanley's 2003 work Hello Sailor! The Hidden History of Gay Life at Sea is still widely available, including in the Nautilus Bookshop