Maritime Museum of BC to launch 2SLGBTQ+ exhibit – input wanted

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia is looking for stories and art from Victoria’s military community for its upcoming Queer at Sea exhibit.

Queer at Sea: Tales from the 2SLGBTQ+ Community will open May 17 at the museum’s new Douglas Street location and runs through the summer.

The goal is to showcase the stories and artwork of 2 Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (2SLGBTQ+) people from CFB Esquimalt and beyond, says Brittany Vis, Maritime Museum of B.C. Executive Director.

“It is important that navy 2SLGBTQ+ people are represented so their contributions can be acknowledged and celebrated.”

She adds much work remains in the military and throughout society to eliminate discrimination.

The exhibit will showcase historical accounts of discrimination and intolerance against 2SLGBTQ+ people in the military. She points to archival records from 1920 of the discharge of a Boy Seaman for engaging in sex with fellow male crew members. He was declared unfit for service because of “mental deficiency.”

Vis notes there is also the infamous story of the murder of Aaron Jenkins in 1958 by his same-sex lover Leo Mantha.

“While these stories are difficult, we do plan to discuss them in the exhibit and share this history of our navy,” says Vis. “To counteract these difficult stories from the past, we would also love to feature stories from today to demonstrate how times have changed, and also to illustrate why further work still needs to happen.”

Share your story or art

Vis encourages military and civilian employees at the base to share their experiences of what it is like to work for navy and Department of National Defence and to consider any photos or objects that might help tell their story.

Stories can be shared in several ways including: a written story; an oral interview presented as a text; video interview presented on digital screens with audio; photograph-based stories with captions added to contextualize the story as needed; object-based stories with personal objects (tools, uniforms, etc.) loaned to the museum for the exhibit; short quotes that speak from experience, or any combination of the above.

The museum has also announced a Postcard Art Contest to celebrate and publicize the opening of the exhibit. Three postcards will be printed that reflect the themes of the exhibit. These postcards will be part of an interactive display alongside stories from queer, trans, and two-spirit communities, and will be sold at the museum gift shop. The Postcard Art Contest is open to all with three $150 prizes awarded. Artwork should interpret, reflect, or resonate with the 2SLGBTQ+ B.C. maritime experiences and/or community.

For information on how to contribute your story or how to enter the museum’s postcard contest, visit their webpage:


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