Pride came to the South Pole this week with the region’s first ever Polar Pride celebration. The event was the brainchild of the British Antarctic Survey conducting research at the United Kingdom’s territories in Antarctica and the Sandwich Islands. Polar Pride celebrates the contributions of both LGBTQ+ researchers in the region as well as the community at large.
“Polar Pride is an opportunity for those working in the British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands to celebrate diversity and show their support for LGBTQ+ colleagues,” Baroness Elizabeth Grace Sugg, the British minister for polar regions, said in a statement celebrating the event. “I also hope colleagues in the UK will get involved, to make everyone feel included to play their role in understanding and protecting the amazing Polar Regions.”
“This announcement feels like a huge step forward and a visible symbol of inclusion and support for the LGBTQI+ community working in BAS, SGSSI and in international polar research,” out BAS biogeographer Dr. Huw Griffiths, said. “I’m personally very excited to see how many nations are getting involved and preparing to share their photos and stories to unite the LGBTQ+ community.”
Griffiths explained the event grew out of a request two years ago from a career researcher seeking solutions to the isolation and discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ people working at BAS.
“At the time these issues weren’t openly talked about in the scientific community,” he observed, noting the “announcement shows the important progress” made towards “greater inclusivity” in the demanding environment of Antarctica.
Both territories are notoriously remote and demanding, with no permanent towns or settlements other than various research centers. The Sandwich Islands were primarily a whaling outpost in the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the islands, St. George, was made famous in 1916 when Sir Ernest Shackleton and a few other from his Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition sailed 800 miles in a small open boat to the island after being shipwrecked on Elephant Island just off the Antarctic mainland.
Polar Pride is part of a series of activities celebrating the 200th anniversary of the discovery of large ice-covered continent. And while neither Antarctica nor the Sandwich Islands are usually considered a prime honeymoon destination, rest assured you can tie the knot with your partner at either location as marriage equality is legal in both territories.