Cruise Line History – Hello Sailor! Gay life on merchant ships from the 1950s to 1980s. Exhibit at the Merseyside Maritime Museum – Liverpool, UK.

VIDEO
Watch a short video of Jo Stanley talking about the exhibition on the (click here) Homotopia TV blog.

Hello Sailor! looks at life on board passenger and merchant ships from the 1950s to 1980s, a time when homosexuality was illegal and for gay men there were few places to be safe.

“BACK STAGE” Crew Party.

The following is a preview of an exhibition created by the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, England — available at their website and returning to the museum this month. It can be seen until early 2009.

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The Queen Mary.

There are many links here to view the exhibition along with downloading interviews and videos.
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Drag Shows in crew quarters on the RMS QUEEN MARY (the old “queen”).

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EXHIBIT IS BASED ON “HELLO SAILOR!” – CLICK HERE TO ORDER AT AMAZON

Apart from the theatre, passenger ships provided the only space where gay men could be not only out, but outrageously camp. Efficient, able-bodied seamen by day, queens and butches strutted their stuff below deck at night, dressed up as their favourite Hollywood stars. Hello Sailor! opens up a secret world of bold young men having a ball as they sashayed and minced across the world’s oceans.

For the first time, gay seamen recount their stories and reveal the hidden history of life in the merchant navy. Homosexuality might have been illegal in both the Royal Navy and Merchant Marine, but life on land in the middle of the twentieth century was far more restrictive than on the ships. The thousands of gay seafarers often out-numbered straight men in the catering departments of the gleaming vessels that were the pride of the British fleet – great cruise liners like the QE2 and the Canberra. Communicating in their own secret language – Polari – they were comfortably queer at sea at a time when life on land demanded compulsory straightness.

Never before has the full story of homosexuality in the British merchant navy been told. With many original photos and featuring a remarkable cast of characters, this ground-breaking book expands and deepens our vision of gay history. Hello Sailor! will fascinate and appeal not just to those who love the sea or dream of romance on liners, but to anyone interested.

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Young officers and cadets aboard British ships – 1950s – 1960.

Based on research carried out for the book ‘Hello Sailor! The Hidden History of Gay Life at Sea’ by Jo Stanley and Paul Baker, the exhibition reveals a little known aspect of the history of the merchant navy.

EXHIBITION THEMES

Follow the links below for further information about the key themes in the exhibition.

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CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING LINKS:

The gateway to freedom

Backstage in staff quarters

Frontstage with passengers

Gay port cities

The secret language of polari

Books and websites

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About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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