Trials and tribulations of being a gay captain

I often get the question: “Isn’t it tough to be openly gay at sea?” To that I am happy to say; no, not at all. I have been out of the closet and open all the years, since I started as a deck cadet 25 years ago, and I have never had a bad experience because of my sexuality. 

At sea, we are a mix of nationalities, cultures, religions, gender and age. And we all have seen many ways of living. 

On a daily basis, we are all literally in the same boat and each person is focused on their specific task. How you do your job and how you work as a team on board is most important. What you do in your private life is not really relevant. 

Through the years I have had to come out not only once, but almost every time I joined a new vessel. After a couple of days, the question about wife and children always comes up. To that, I can only reply “I got a husband, no kids...” Seldomly my answer has lead to silence, more often it has lead to curiosity and questions, which I have answered gladly.

Once, my husband joined me on my vessel for family sailing during Christmas. It was a big experience to him to see a big container vessel in operation, to meet my crew and to see our life at sea. To the crew of 8 different nationalities, he was just “Captain’s Friend” and was treated with the same respect as everybody else. To me and my husband, it was a very merry Christmas together on board that year.

Through my career, I have worked on many vessels and also ashore in our HQ office. Many people think that the world at sea is so tough and macho. But, no, it is not. In fact, we just people at work, far away from home. We respect each other and care about our fellow crewmembers and if the tone gets tough, it is always work related, never personal.