Mary Rose museum curators claim ship’s objects have LGBT meanings

Mary Rose museum curators claim ship’s objects have LGBT meanings

Curators of the Mary Rose Museum have faced criticism for assigning queer meanings to everyday objects found aboard the 16th Century warship.

In a blog post on the museum’s website titled Queering the Mary Rose’s Collection, a selection of items are afforded a speculative LGBT reimagining that has since been labelled bizarre at best and politicised pinkwashing at worst.

Operated by a trust that boasts King Charles as its president, the Portsmouth-based museum houses the largest collection of Tudor objects in the world.

In its latest move to “use queerness as an interpretative tool,” a 21st Century LGBT lens is applied to a mirror, hair combs, and a gold ring.

An octagonal mirror found aboard the galleon is said to relate to queer individuals for they may experience gender dysphoria or euphoria when peering into it.

The post reads: “For queer people, we may experience a strong feeling of gender dysphoria when we look into a mirror, a feeling of distress caused by our reflection conflicting with our own gender identities.

“On the other hand, we may experience gender euphoria when looking in a mirror, when how we feel on the inside matches our reflection.”

A collection of 82 nit combs recovered from the sea bed are deemed significant for hairstyling is associated with gender.

It said: “For many Queer people today, how we wear our hair is a central pillar of our identity.”

However, the blog concedes that combs would have been largely used for the practical purpose of removing nits rather than for aesthetics reasons.

A recovered gold wedding ring was linked to same-sex marriage due to same-sex couples being unable to marry in Henry VIII’s Church of England.

In response, Professor David Abulafia, of Cambridge University, said: “With all due respect to its authors, the highly speculative comments about Queering the Mary Rose have as much connection to the shipwreck as a tin of Heinz baked beans.”

A spokesperson for the Mary Rose Museum doubled down, saying: “As one of the UK's most historically significant attractions, we actively encourage people from around the globe to visit, experience and interpret the Mary Rose for themselves”

The Mary Rose set sail in 1511 and was a prominent feature in wars with France and Scotland before it sank at the Battle of Solent in 1545.

After an 11-year salvage operation, the ship was raised from the seabed on October 11 1982 and more than 19,000 objects have been recovered from the watery grave.