Gay History – April 14, 1912: The Forgotten Gay Passengers and Crew of the RMS Titanic [VIDEO]

Forget Rose & Jack. Let’s hear more about Joe & Bill.

*While nobody will ever know just how many gay and lesbian passengers were on the RMS Titanic on that fateful night.  But just by the sheer number of passengers onboard there must have been some, but their numbers are unknown.  The following post contains speculation and conjecture of some of the possible passengers and crew.

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.

Having just 20 lifeboats, Titanic was entirely unprepared for the sinking. Even if they had been filled, only half of the passengers on board would have made it safety. In fact, many of the first lifeboats to leave Titanic were only half-full because so many passengers didn’t believe it could possibly be sinking.

There were 2,224 people on board. Only 710 were saved.

Just under two hours after the Titanic foundered, the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene of the sinking, where she brought aboard the survivors.

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

The answer is undoubtedly yes.

Jack Fritscher, author of the gay-rotic novella Titanic: The Untold Tale of Gay Passengers and Crew (Palm Drive Publishing), reckoned that “if, according to Kinsey, one out of six ordinary men is gay, 225 gay men died. If two out of six in the travel industry are gay, 450 gay men died, making Titanic an overlooked but essential chapter in gay history.” Since men were more likely to go down with the ship, the gay male casualties were undoubtedly higher than most.

Thomas Andrews Jr., who was the chief designer of the ship was a respected and prominent figure in the shipbuilding industry, but what is less known is that he was also gay or at the very least bisexual. .

Andrews’ sexuality was not openly discussed during his lifetime, as homosexuality/bisexuality was illegal in the early 20th century. However, there are some accounts that suggest that he had a relationship with a man named Francis Millet, who was also a passenger on the Titanic and tragically lost his life in the disaster. ( Francis Millet, he was  known to have an affair with writer Charles Warren Stoddard in Venice in 1875. Stoddard would later leave him, devastating Millet.)

Among the Titanic’s passengers there was Archibald Butt, known as Archie, was an influential military aide to US presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. He is described as being  ‘camp’ and a ‘dandy’ who was always impeccably dressed.

Joseph Fynney was a RMS Titanic victim. It has been suggested that, with travel partner William Alfred Gaskell, were both gay passengers aboard the Titanic.

Fynney was a “confirmed bachelor” and people reported that Fynney took great interest in helping the young men circling around him, and his neighbors complained about the late-night visits of these young men. He volunteered at the local church, St. James, Toxteth, helping young delinquents. A handsome bachelor, Fynney always brought a young man with him while vising his mother in Canada.

Fynney boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger; travelling with him, on the same ticket, was William Alfred Gaskell.  They both died in the sinking. Only Fynney’s body was recovered.

There were also Michael Whitney and Edward Wedding who were known to be lovers and and also some of 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. 

These are just a few of the possible unknown gay and lesbian victims.

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




12 thoughts on “Gay History – April 14, 1912: The Forgotten Gay Passengers and Crew of the RMS Titanic [VIDEO]

  1. There is one author who claimed Battie was a homosexual, but that author claimed a lot of people are with only 1 proof “they were unmarried and traveled together with a close friend”. One of the few historical Titanic books I never will buy.

  2. Millet spent a lot of late nights in the Smoking Room with young Harry Widener, an unmarried booklover, supposedly discussing their mutual love of their Alma mater Harvard. It could have been as innocent as it seems on the surface. Harry’s portrait at Harvard shows a serious, sensitive looking young man. Ripe for grooming?

    Joseph Fynney seems to have serially preyed on vulnerable boys.William Gaskell was only the latest.

    Beattie and his travel companions were known as the three musketeers but were also travelled with the Fortune family. In the context of the time they were probably just friends.

    1. Harry Widener shows every sign of being gay, though possibly repressed. He was 27, still unmarried with no record of any love interest, more interested in picking up rare books than women. He loved amateur dramatics and collected fashion plates and books of costume designs.He was fastidious and particular about what he collected and owned. Everything had to be of the best. His suits were immaculately tailored and his hair perfectly styled with a severe centre parting. His portrait and photographs show a handsome, delicate young man with a shy, intense expression. He was very reserved and devoted to his mother, who indulged his interests and mourned his loss more than that of her husband. He loved pink carnations. He had close relationships with fellow bibliophiles, most of them older men. His closest friend of his own age was Charles Osborne who was interested in Oscar Wilde. He supposedly bonded with Frank Millet over their shared love of Harvard and stayed up late into the night with him in the Smoking Room on Titanic.

      Mummie’s boy, perfectionist, interested in theatre and costume, liked the company of older men, obsessive about his clothes and appearance – he was gay, no doubt about it.

  3. Victor Penasco was another dandy onboard Titanic noted for always being impeccably dressed, whether in his natty three piece lounge suit, gloves, derby hat and cane, in his cutaway morning coat and shawl collared waistcoat, in the elegant tuxedo in which he died or in the chic silk smoking suit he left behind him and which remains as the epitome of his personal style. He improved his English on his visits to his tailors. Fine tailoring and jewellery were the focus of his considerable spending. He attracted attention for his immaculate appearance and good looks during the voyage. His lifestyle was extravagant – travel to all the fashionable places in Europe, patronising the best hotels and restaurants, having boxes at the opera, gambling in the casinos and loving fine clothes. His attitude to women was chivalrous in the extreme. He was also dominated by his overbearing mother, despite being 24, though he defied her to travel on Titanic and tried to deceive her that he was still in Europe by getting his valet to post pre-written postcards to her, scared of her reaction to his rebellion.There is an element of camp to this good looking young fashion plate. However he was married and on an extended honeymoon since his wedding in December 1910. Everything points to the possibility of Victor being gay but he wasn’t. Could appearances be deceptive?

    1. Perhaps Penasco was pressurised into marrying by his mother. Everything about him screams that he was gay. Handsome and a fashion victim, he couldn’t be anything else. A beautiful boy who came in his sexy suits and died in his lovely tux.

    2. Penasco was certainly the peacock. His silk smoking suit shouts out that he was gay and he surely would have been dressed in it for an intimate evening with other men just as his suits were too perfect for a straight guy. He seems to have loved his suits more than he did his wife from whom he parted with nothing more loving than he hoped she’d be happy without him.

      1. He was remembered as a well-dressed man, in a tuxedo, very elegant, who had managed to reach a small piece of ice. He is iconic.

    3. He was a millionaire, but after his death the memory of Victor Penasco was prostituted. His family bought the corpse of an unknown victim so they could prove his death and inherit.

  4. Milton Long was probably gay. He seems to have made predatory moves on younger man Jack Thayer, pretending to be younger than he was. Jack Thayer seems to have responded and struck up a warm friendship in the few hours that they knew each other. Milton even attached himself to Jack and his family as Titanic went down. Long died, Thayer survived. Both were remarked on for their good looks. Thayer asked his friend’s father for a photo, a sign of affection for the lost man.

What do you think?

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