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First-ever Pride held on tiny remote island of South Georgia between South America and Antarctica

Josh Milton December 9, 2019
Around 20 people – essentially the island's entire population – attended South Georgia's first Pride last month. (Katharine Ganly)

Around 20 people – essentially the island's entire population – attended South Georgia's first Pride last month. (Katharine Ganly)

On a remote sliver thousands of miles away from South America and Antartica proper, the tiny island of St Georgia held its first Pride and quite literally everyone attended.

Antartica’s summer resort, the British territory held its first LGBT+ parade last week.

With the island having no permanent residents, it instead plays host for recurrent waves of research scientists, government officers and boating staff.

Around 20 people showed up holding rainbow flags, a latex horse head mask and environmentally-friendly glitter to hop behind a pickup truck and drive along South Georgia’s winding snow-tipped cliffs.

One of the Pride’s organisers was Katherine Ganly.

The British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit officer told PinkNews how, after the march, islanders celebrated with rainbow cakes and dancing.

‘We danced, sang along to music and waved the flag all the way.’ 

“The sun was shining and it was a very happy day,” she said.

“I’m not sure what our neighbours the seals and penguins made of us, but I like to think they were smiling too.”

She added: “We gathered in our communal building at King Edward Point Research Station in the afternoon, assembled our rainbow flag and put colourful clothing on.

With humans vastly outnumbered by penguins and albatrosses, South Georgia locals got into the Pride spirit. (Katharine Ganly)
With people vastly outnumbered by penguins and albatrosses, South Georgia locals got into the Pride spirit. (Katharine Ganly)

“We even managed to find some environmentally-friendly glitter on base, for those that wanted it!”

“Our resident electrician was the DJ for the parade itself, and we followed the music and the flag along the ‘main road’ from the Research Station to the old whaling station, Grytviken.

“It is about a mile walk to get to Grytviken, and we danced, sang along to music and waved the flag all the way.”

Arriving into Grytviken, parade-goers hoisted a Pride flag outside the museum before going inside to eat.

“We ate rainbow cake, scones, sausage rolls and biscuits shaped like our little island made by one of the South Georgia Heritage Trust personnel, who is also a pastry chef.”

After singing and dancing down the tracks of the island, which is only a little bit bigger than Rhode Island, Pride participants dug into colourful cakes. (Katharine Ganly)
After singing and dancing down the tracks of the island, which is only a little bit bigger than Rhode Island, US, Pride participants dug into colourful cakes. (Katharine Ganly)

“After that we had to do some dancing to burn off some of the cake!” Ganly added.

St Georgia islanders scaled a frosted mountain just to put a Pride flag on its peak. 

During the summer, the patch some thousand miles away from the tail-fin of South America sees around 20 to 30 people calling it home.

But when winter arrives and thermometers plummet to -10°C, dozens of islanders flock, leaving just eight to 10 people left to live along beaches dotted with penguins.

With November being the beginning of the summertime for South Georgia, Ganly explained that it was now or never to hold the territory’s first Pride.

“We already had a rainbow flag on station,” she said.

“In June this had been transported to the top of one of the local mountains to be flown in the snow and wind in celebration of Pride month by a couple of very hardy members of our team.

“I think ice-axes and crampons were used to get it there!”

Ganly said she’s hopeful that South Georgia’s first Pride will be the first of many more to come.

“Thank you to our fisheries Scientist Allie and our South Georgia Heritage Trust assistant Jerome for the inspiration, and thank you to the South Georgia government, British Atlantic Survey and SGHT for all the support in getting it off the ground.”

More: Pride, South Georgia Island, St Georgia, St Georgia Heritage Trust

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