THE Royal Navy has turned to Stonewall, the gay lobby group, for advice on how to recruit and retain homosexual sailors.
Senior officers want to encourage more gay and lesbian sailors, estimated at 2,100, to “come out”, paving the way for the first openly gay admiral.
In a symbolic move, the navy will place advertisements in the Pink Paper, the first time it has sought recruits through the gay press.
Commodore Paul Docherty, for the navy, said: “(The advertisements) will show those who are gay and are uncomfortable about the environment (here) that our position on diversity is not just empty talk.”
He added: “It is quite possible that we will have a gay admiral in the fullness of time. Anecdotally, we have had gay admirals in the past but they haven’t come out because it wasn’t allowed.”
According to Lieutenant-Commander Craig Jones, the navy’s most senior openly gay officer, the navy still loses highly-trained staff prematurely, despite the lifting of the ban on homosexuality in January 2000.
“If you are still in the closet, it feels claustrophobic. I know many people who have left simply because they want to live a life which is more open.”
Commodore Docherty admitted the navy was irritated by the fascination in popular culture with the camp behaviour of gay seafarers — reflected in songs such as the disco hit In the Navy by Village People.