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A lesbian passenger on Titanic used her lighted cane to save lives, it's being auctioned off

Photo credit:
Paramount Pictures

Ever since Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet starred in the fictional romance Titanic in 1997, the ship's true stories about her passengers has become a bit muddled. 

For instance, James Cameron's movie didn't feature the story of lesbian survivor Ella White (pictured left, middle) and her life-saving lighted walking stick. It's reported that she emerged from her private rooms on the tragic evening of the 14th of April, 1912 in just her nightgown, high-heeled diamond-studded evening slippers, carrying her walking stick that had a built-in electric light.

Historians have established that Mrs. White used her cane as a beacon to alert other ships (maybe even the RMS Carpathia herself) of the life rafts on that cold night of April 15, 1912. 

Walter Lord, in his book A Night to Remember, which chronicles that fateful night, wrote “Mrs. J. Stuart (Ella) White didn’t help row No. 8, but she appointed herself a sort of signalman. She had a cane with a built-in electric light, and during most of the night she waved it fiercely about…”

Flagging ships was her goal and after the tragedy, she was a star witness in court hearings. Thanks to the media at the time the story of both Ella White and her lighted cane became famous.

Later in life, it is believed that Ella White was in a committed same-sex relationship with her Titanic traveling companion and later, Plaza Hotel roommate, Marie Grice Young

Ella’s family secretly held onto her cane for years, until consigning it to Guernsey’s Auction House in 2019.

This piece of history and other objects from The Titanic are set to be auctioned by Guernsey’s at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, Rhode Island on July 19 and 20.