New documentary highlights experiences of LGBTQ+ sailors past and present

Topic: People Storyline: Events

The experiences of LGBTQ+ personnel in the Royal Navy before and after the ban on homosexuality was lifted is the subject of a short film which premieres in Portsmouth tomorrow.

Uncharted Waters: Generations of LGBTQ+ Pride in the Royal Navy gives an insight into life in the Service as an LGBTQ+ sailor – officers and ratings – the impact of the ban on individuals, and how the Royal Navy has changed in the quarter century since the law was changed.

The documentary, which debuts at the Action Stations Auditorium in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard at 6pm has been produced by filmmaker David Graham in partnership with the Royal Navy’s LGBTQ+ Network.

Following the screening, there’ll be a chance to chat with those involved in the project, as well as local LGBTQ+ organisations and veterans’ charities, such as the Royal Navy’s LGBTQ+ Network, the Terence Higgins Trust, Downtown Pompey, Portsmouth Pride, Queer All Year and Fighting With Pride. 

"Our short film is a perfect way for the network to show its open arms to our returning veteran community,” said Lieutenant Danny Cairns, co-chair of the RN LGBTQ+ Network

“Within the Armed Forces, veterans are a huge part of our culture and education system; unfortunately, the LGBTQ+ ban not only took away a generation of sailors, but took away our role models, our mentors and a support network.

“For the recommendations to support our veterans returning to us, it will allow both them and the Service to finally heal but will also allow us to train a better sailor tomorrow." 

The film is a part of wider work by the National Museum of the Royal Navy to develop and widen access to the collection and engage with the entire story of the Royal Navy.

“The purpose of the film is to show different LGBTQ+ generations of the Royal Navy talking to each other,” said Joanna Valentine, community producer at museum.
 While we are aware the film doesn’t include everyone’s experiences, it is a starting point in making our collections more inclusive of LGBTQ+ history.” 

Alongside community organisations, the Collections team from the National Museum of the Royal Navy will also be present, allowing veterans and serving personnel to come forward to register their interest in sharing an object or story about their experiences in the Royal Navy.

Alongside this a special object will be on display especially for the event, a touching gift presented to a Royal Marine that was commissioned by his partner. 

Tickets to the film are free, for general admission visit: 

Veterans should visit:


Our short film is a perfect way for the network to show its open arms to our returning veteran community.

Lieutenant Danny Cairns