April 14th, 1912: 11:40 pm – The Lost and Forgotten Gay Passengers of the RMS Titanic

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Just before midnight on April 14th. 1912 the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the in the North Atlantic Ocean. The sinking of Titanic in the early morning hours of the next day caused the deaths of more than 1,500 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.

At  11:40 pm ship’s time. Titanic sideswiped an iceberg and the glancing collision caused Titanic‘s hull plates to buckle inwards along her starboard side and opened five of her sixteen watertight compartments to the sea.  By 2:20 AM, she broke apart and foundered,  taking  over one thousand five  hundred people still aboard to their deaths.  Just under two hours after the Titanic foundered, the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene of the sinking, where she brought aboard an estimated 705 survivors.

Were there gay passengers and crew on the Titanic at its time of sinking?

The answer is yes.

There was lovers Michael Whitney and Edward Wedding,  Also there was prominent military officer Archibald Butts and the working crew including the rugged Balkan Stoker, the redheaded Royal Purser Felix Jones,  ship’s second carpenter Michael Brice and Third Officer Sam Maxwell. 

Learn more about the gay passengers upon the RMS Titanic and that fateful night and watch Hugh Brewster, author of ‘RMS Titanic: Gilded Lives on a Fatal Voyage’ talks about the untold gay story of the Titanic’s fatal maiden voyage.

 

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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2 Responses

  1. While I certainly believe that there were gay men (and women) on the Titanic, Fritscher’s 68-page “Titanic: The Untold Tale of Gay Passengers and Crew” which originally appeared in “Honcho” magazine is, in his words, “gay literary erotica” aka FICTION imagined around real people. And while I agree that Archibald Butt was probably gay (whether or not he ever acted upon it), sadly the person interviewed on the video, second author Hugh Brewster, misrepresents some historical facts as he has in other interviews to promote his book. First there is his regurgitation of Social Constructionist horseshit that “gay identity” didn’t exist until the late 19th century. Second, he confuses (as, to be fair, countless others do) the CONCEPT of laws against “homosexuality” as a state of being which Britain’s Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 was no more than any other law with real laws against homosexual ACTS. Third, he absurdly asserts that there was no law against homosexual acts before it when, in fact, sodomy had been a crime in Great Britain since 1553 and the reign of Henry VIII. But because it was hard to prove, and until 1861 involved the death penalty, it was rarely prosecuted. The change that came with the 1885 Act through an amendment introduced by MP Henry Labouchere was to make “gross indecency” between two males a crime (while sodomy remained a separate offense). The evil genius of the amendment was that it did not define “gross indecency,” leaving its interpretation open to the imagination of the police, prosecutors, and judges. Mathematics and computer science icon Alan Turing was another one of its eventual victims.

    Demonstrating his inexcusably shallow knowledge about something on which he pontificates, Brewster not only simply refers to Labouchere as “someone” when far more people in Great Britain were familiar with “the Labouchere Amendment” than “Stead’s Law,” but also asserts that, “Stead probably never intended this.” In fact, Stead had written to Labouchere to alert him to the rise in male prostitution in London and elsewhere. Finally, Brewster says “homosexuality” (sic) was decriminalized in England in 1957 when it was actually 1967.
    In other places, Brewster has shamelessly tried to generate sales by suggesting that Butt and Frank Millett (who, among other accomplishments, was on the design committee for the Lincoln Memorial) were lovers. While Millett was unquestionably at least bisexual, there is no reason to believe that they were anything more than friends. Thank you.

  2. Tom Insley says:

    The Titanic’s Third Officer was Herbert Pitman, not Sam Maxwell. Pitman was a straight, married man. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…. 😉 )

What do you think?