Researchers and staff across Antarctica just celebrated the continent’s biggest Pride celebration ever, hoisting flags and hosting events at research bases across the continent. An estimated 25 people congregated on Thursday for Polar Pride, which included a flag raising at the geographic south pole. LGBTQ2s+ people and allies representing bases such as McMurdo, the continent’s biggest research station, and the Amundsen-Scott gathered in the November sun to raise both the rainbow flag and the Progress Pride flag in tribute to the community.
The crowd at Polar Pride, while seemingly modest, represents a significant turnout. The entire continent has just a few thousand people living on it at any given time, and those numbers dip significantly during the winter months, which lasts from March to October. Polar night blankets Antarctica in 24/7 darkness during the winter, and severe weather conditions mean that researchers are essentially stranded on the base for eight to nine months. But in spite of the challenges, Pride events have been held informally in Antarctica for several years. The first was in 2018, but last year researchers officially declared Nov. 18 as the now-annual “Polar Pride” celebration.