The National Museum of the Royal Navy museums and attractions in Portsmouth, Gosport, Hartlepool and Yeovilton will re-open w/c 17 May - please check each museum for their opening days/times.

HMS Caroline remain temporarily closed.

Pre-booking is essential at all attractions. Find The Latest COVID-19 Updates Here.
 

 

Celebrating LGBTQ+ Naval Role Models

Homosexuality and gender identity or expression has remained largely hidden throughout history. With positive representation increasing in importance, so it becomes necessary for the heritage sector to celebrate their LGBTQ+ role models of today.

It has been legal to serve the Royal Navy for gay, lesbian and bisexual people since 2000, and legal for trans-people to openly serve since 2014.

Below are a few examples of members of the Naval LGBTQ+ community who have developed long, successful careers both in and out of the Royal Navy.

For future LGBTQ+ recruits they are a representation of the fact that sexuality and gender identity do not define careers or indeed hold them back.

Nancy Spain

Naval Service: Women’s Royal Naval Service, 1940 – 1944

Career: Working as a driver for the WRNS before being commissioned to the London Press Office during the war, Spain made a name for herself as a broadcaster and journalist, writing for the Daily Express, She and News of the World throughout the 1950s and 60s.

She was also an author, known for her detective series set in all-girls school; Radcliff Hall. It is highly likely she named the series after lesbian author, Radclyffe Hall, who faced libel chargers over her 1928 novel, The Well of Loneliness.

While writing for She, Spain fell in love with editor, Joan Werner Laurie. They lived together openly, making friends with notable LGBTQ+ icons such as Noël Coward and Marlene Dietrich.

Spain flew with Laurie and three others from Luton Airport to cover the Grand National in 1964. Their plane went down near Aintree Racecourse, killing all on board.

An earlier example of a “modern” LGBTQ+ figure in the Royal Navy, Spain’s short life was filled with a vibrant, successful career and the love of her partner, despite doubtlessly keeping her sexuality a secret during service.

Gordon Jones

Naval Service: Lieutenant Commander

Career: Jones joined the Royal Navy over 18 years ago as a Warfare Officer, before specialising as a hydrographic, meteorological and oceanographic officer.

He has served around the world, including America, the Falklands, the high Arctic and as disaster relief to British Overseas Territories in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Serving out as bisexual, Jones has been a member of Compass, the Royal Navy Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression Network since 2016, becoming a Sexual Orientation Representative in 2018. He is a Stonewall Trans Ally and was nominated for the LGBT+ Future Leader Award at the 2019 British LGBT Awards.

Jones’ Stonewall Rainbow Laces. National Museum of the Royal Navy; Devonport Collection

Hannah Peace

Naval service: Chief Petty Officer

Career: More than twenty years in the Royal Navy, Peace works for the Defence Medical Information Capability Program.

She is responsible for a small team who manage and support all the medical IT systems in the MoD which are currently deployed.

In 2018 she championed the rights of transgender personnel on the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

 

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