Antarctica is a weird continent. Its daily temperatures are almost always below freezing. Only 4,000 people (mostly scientists) live there during its summer, October to February, and only 1,000 people live there during its winter, March to September, when it’s too cold for planes and ships to arrive. Only 11 people have ever been born in Antarctica. Nevertheless, a small group of residents there have decided to throw an Antarctica Pride event in commemoration of Pride month 2018.
A small group of 10 LGBTQ-identified people housed among the 133 people currently within the United States’ McMurdo Station have decided to throw a small Pride event this year. But since the icy continent will be cast in darkness 24 hours a day for four months come June 2, they decided to take a snapshot outdoors with the Pride flag on April 22. (It was -14°F when they took the photo.)
Though the 10 people are a small group and they work 10-hour days six days a week without internet access for much of the year, they reportedly stay in touch year-round and hold LGBTQ events every now and then. (Most recently they watched RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3.)
Residents Evan Townsend and Shawn Waldron organized the event. Among the planned Antarctica Pride celebrations are reportedly a gay bar night (presumably with a makeshift gay bar), a movie night and possibly a small parade around the main building. They have reportedly joked about using mock corporate sponsors like the station store or marching on behalf of the gay penguins, and they plan on making noise and throwing candy.
“We may be thousands of miles away from any major celebration, but we can do something,” Waldron says.
What are LGBTQ rights like in Antarctica?
LGBTQ rights in Antartica are basically nonexistent. Antarctica contains no countries, has few permanent residents, no standing military, is untouched by war and is governed by a consortium of 29 countries who have pretty much agreed by treaty not to recognize territorial claims by others.
As such, the continent confers no specific legal rights onto LGBTQ individuals or same-sex couples, nor does it criminalize the LGBTQ identity and behavior. But the Antarctic Treaty System says each individual in Antarctica has the legal rights conferred by their home country’s laws.