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Hello Sailor!: The hidden history of gay life at sea [Paperback]

Jo Stanley , Paul Baker

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Book Description

March 7 2003 0582772141 978-0582772144 1

When gays had to be closeted, ships were the only places where homosexual men could not only be out but also camp. And on some liners to the sun and the New World, queens and butches had a ball. They sashayed and minced their way across the world's oceans.

Never before has the story been told of the masses. These are the thousands of queer seafarers, mainly stewards, who sometimes even outnumbered the straight men in the catering departments of ships that were household names and the pride of the British fleet. Hello Sailor! uniquely shows what it was like to be queer at sea at a time when land meant straightness.


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"What this fascinating book is really about is not 'gay life at sea' in general, but the gay ghettos on many liners and cruiseships during the fifties and sixties."

George Melly, The Mail on Sunday

"...this path breaking book tells the hidden story of passion and liberation at sea. This is a vital addition to the understanding of gay and sea history."

Publishing News

"...candid confessions cause the narrative to leap into life."

Independent on Sunday.

"...a fascinating account."

Gay Times

"...Hello Sailor! transcends its niche as a piece of gay history and, instead, becomes something that has resonances for all readers, whether gay, straight or something in between."

The Observer

'...an eminently readable, often amusing and original book...'

Journal of Contemporary History, Vol 41, No 1

From the Back Cover

'From Quentin Crisp cavorting with US marines in 'The Naked Civil Servant' to Jean Genet, Fassbinder and 'Querelle', a celebration of sailors has long been a part of gay culture. But very rarely has it been the subject of serious study. Here at last is the book that puts all that to rights. Thoroughly-researched and engagingly written, 'Hello Sailor' looks beyond the butch, bell-bottomed image and explores the real meaning of gay life for sea-faring men.' Paul Burston, TimeOut

"Innovative, revealing and brave, this book peers through previously forbidden portholes and unravels a neglected strand of British history. It tells many fascinating stories of lives lived against the odds¿" Andy Medhurst, University of Sussex

"¿meticulously researched, cogently argued work of high scholarship¿producing an endlessly fascinating and finely nuanced examination of the culture and mores of homosexuality afloat¿This book is greatly to be commended." Dr Campbell McMurray OBE, Director, Royal Naval Museum

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gay Liberation at Seas on Ships Jan. 6 2008
By Tidewater - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is a great review of "gay life at sea" on Cruise and Merchant Marine ships, not the Royal or US Navies (where such a wealth of gay information will never be available) It is a great resource book for studying gay life in a time when the population spent more time at sea rather than the quick weekend trips on the present day giant ships where one never has to leave his cabin for entertainment.

On the cruise ship gay men were free to be gay long before the coming of gay lib. Moreover, the ships provided an ideal venue for would be entertainment stars or the proud drag queen.

I particularly liked the information about gay life on the Merchant Marine ships where a gay man who could not serve in his country's navy could serve on commercial ships. There the attitude toward gay men was relaxed and accommodating. My favorite line: "If the ship is not tied to the peer, what you do sexually is not queer." It was an attitude straight men, both married and single, practiced.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Drag Queens go to sea. Oct. 21 2011
By J. Mayer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would not call this a history of gay life at sea. I would call it a history of Drag Queens at sea. While a very interesting book in some respects - the gay slang, while making sense, was new to me. Very interesting book in the very, very narrow niche that it does cover, it is in no way it representative of what I would consider the whole gay community at sea.

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