Antarctica is set to have its first ever Pride event – thanks to a group of LGBT people based in an Antarctic research centre.
A group of 10 LGBT+ people based at the United States’ McMurdo Station – around 850 miles away from the South Pole – have begun preparations for their first ever Pride celebration, including taking a photo of the group outside of the base.
Shawn Waldron and Evan Townsend came up with the idea for the event, telling NewNowNext they plan to commemorate Pride during June’s Pride Month.
However, the pair were forced to begin preparations in April before Antarctica was plunged into constant darkness for multiple months.
“Why not take this photo and let people see that there’s queer representation—even at the end of the earth,” Waldron said.
There are currently only 133 people currently stationed at McMurdo for the winter, but almost 900 people work in the base during the summer months.
Despite the small number of people, the base has a thriving LGBT community. Although much of their time on the base is spent working, the community is able to host events and even watch the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.
Townsend stated: “We had a few LGBTQ social events that people showed up to and also because it’s such a small community, it’s easy to find out who is and who isn’t in the LGBTQ community.
“My biggest fear before I left was, I’m going to be the only gay person, there’s going to be no one else here. I was wrong.”
Townsend added that the ability to represent LGBT people in such a remote location was very important and that this representation would have helped him greatly as a child.
He said: “There was nobody I could look to and say, ‘Oh, that’s what I can do,’ because even for me, the idea of travelling alone was such a distant concept.
“Having an example of somebody who travels and can have those adventures would’ve been a great thing for me as a kid but even more so being able to see that there are queer people out there who are proud of their queerness and that in no way inhibits them from living these adventures.”
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In 2016, a group of gay activists ‘claimed’ Antarctica as the world’s first LGBT-friendly continent.
Rights activists Planting Peace are renowned for their elaborate PR stunts – from creating a rainbow Pride centre opposite the Westboro Baptist Church and holding mock gay weddings, to erecting giant billboards in the hometown of Kim Davis.
However, the group has attempted to take things to another level in March 2016 – by travelling to Antarctica and ‘claiming’ it in the name of LGBT citizens around the world.
The continent is technically protected by international treaties which prohibit any one state from carrying out a land grab, but that didn’t seem to stop the activists hoisting the rainbow flag.
Aaron Jackson, President and founder of Planting Peace, made the long trip to the continent in order to raise the rainbow flag – even introducing it to some of the local indigenous penguin population.
He explained to local media: “I was just watching a documentary on Antarctica and thought, ‘Aw, man, ‘I’d like to visit Antarctica — that would be real interesting. Maybe I should bring a pride flag’.
“It’s not governed by any one country — just international treaties. No government is in charge of Antarctica.
“That would be interesting if we declared it the first gay-friendly continent. The reality is, no one will be able to tell me it’s not.”
The group added: “Let this declaration serve as a catalyst to create the momentum needed to bring LGBT rights to every continent in the world. And let this serve as a signal that the LGBT movement is moving forward to relentlessly battle for LGBT rights.”