On 28th June 1970 the first ever Pride marches took place in major cities across the US to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

One year prior at The Stonewall Inn, a popular New York City gay bar, police raided for the second time in one week. At a time when same-sex relationships were outlawed, the raids sparked backlash from frustrated  patrons who were met with police violence. The events of that night and the days that followed, plus years of prior activism, are widely considered to have catapulted the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement into the mainstream. Since then, Pride events have been held across the world in the month of June and beyond to promote visibility, acceptance, and freedom, whilst celebrating pride in one’s sexuality and supporting the rights of others to do so. 

In honour of Pride Month, we conducted a survey of 60 crew members and yachting professionals to examine the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community within the yachting industry. Here’s what we found… 

Our Findings

While encouraging that 63% of those surveyed felt comfortable being open about their LGBTQ+ identity whilst onboard, there’s still a need for improvement. 44% reported having experienced discrimination and harassment, and only 12% felt the yachting industry is inclusive for LGBTQ+ individuals. 

More than half of the people surveyed suggested diversity training as a way to improve inclusiveness onboard, and this is looking likely to come into effect as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) begin their review of the current STCW code and convention. Earlier this year, the IMO reported several areas requiring amendment including: bullying and harassment, gender diversity, gender sensitisation, and mental health. Revisions to the current STCW code and convention will likely include training on the aforementioned areas and is expected to come into effect by spring 2027. 

Here’s what the survey found to be the most common types of discrimination and harassment experienced by LGBTQ+ people whilst onboard:  

Positive Experiences & The Future Of The Industry

Thankfully, the survey also found stories of those who’ve enjoyed positive experiences during their time in the industry. Connor Grey, 27, has worked as a deckhand for over two years and describes his time working on yachts fondly.

“When I decided to enter the industry, one of my biggest concerns was whether I’d be accepted as a gay male but also as a gay male working on deck. Working on deck is typically thought of as this masculine-macho environment and I had some hesitation about pursuing a position particularly because of this. 

“But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how receptive people have been and how open a lot of my peers are when finding out that I am gay. When I joined my first vessel I initially held back a bit. I kind of sussed out the environment before deciding it was safe enough for me to display who I was.

“When I joined my second boat, I didn’t hide anything and felt that it’s best to just be who I was from the beginning. No one onboard batted an eyelid and it gave me a lot more confidence in myself and also my work.”

Optimistic about inclusiveness within the yachting industry, Connor adds:

“I think that perceptions are changing and with the influx of younger and newer generations into the industry, it is creating a much more inclusive environment in which to work. Yes, there are definitely still some closed minded individuals out there but the best thing we as queer people can do is be visible and not tolerate a harsh or uncomfortable working environment.”

We all know that working on a yacht can be incredibly isolating, separated from loved ones for extended periods whilst in fast-paced, high-stress environments, and without the comforts of home. It’s what we sign up for. For LGBTQ+ crew members, this isolation can be compounded by fear of discrimination or bullying due to their sexual identity. Continuing with antiquated ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ attitudes ignores their presence and contributes to hostile environments. Acknowledging and embracing LGBTQ+ identities is crucial to creating inclusive and supportive spaces that prioritize mental health and wellbeing for all within the yachting industry.

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