A cold continent is about to get a little more welcoming as Antarctica prepares to celebrate its first, if small, LGBT+ Pride. Shawn Waldron, one of the group of 10 researchers working at the station, wanted the world to know – “There’s queer representation – even at the ends of the earth”.
The group posed with their rainbow flag a little earlier than most due to the fact that during the Pride month of June, Antarctica will be plunged into darkness for 24 hours a day. But while the continent may seem harsh and unforgiving, the reception for the LGBT+ friends couldn’t be warmer, all of them feeling comfortable in expressing themselves. Waldron continued, “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.”
While there are currently only 10 in the group from a staff of 133, that number may swell when a further 767 join the McMurdo Station crew during the Antarctic summer, which begins in October. However, those low numbers haven’t stopped the group from holding regular LGBT+ events every couple of weeks.
Even thought the number of attendees might not rival those in other continents, the group felt it was important to make the planned celebrations official. One in particular, Evan Townsend, wanted to share the photo of a Pride flag held aloft in the Antarctic to inspire a sense of adventure in younger members of the community. He described his own childhood, “There was nobody I could look to and say, ‘Oh, that’s what I can do’, because even for me, the idea of traveling alone was such a distant concept”
He continued, “So just 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.”
So, although it might be a little early, from one continent to another – Happy Pride, Antarctica!
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