Activist group Planting Peace has declared space LGBT-friendly after launching a Pride flag on a high altitude balloon.
The flag was launched on August 17 from Milwaukee, and it reached an altitude of 34 kilometers (21.1 miles) in a 3-hour-long trip to the stratosphere, all filmed by a GoPro camera.
Although the gesture is purely symbolic, the group hopes this is a step to creating the largest safe space possible for members of the LGBTQ community.
“It was an honor to send the first Pride flag into space, and it provided a wonderful opportunity to show that Planting Peace will not stop fighting for LGBTQ rights until all sexual and gender minorities experience full, fundamental rights in every corner of the universe,” Aaron Jackson, president of Planting Peace, told IFLScience.
“The backdrop of space gave us a stunning, inspiring and peaceful canvas for our message of hope to our LGBTQ family. I would love for LGBTQ children who are struggling to see this, and look up to the stars and remember that the universe shines brightly for them, and they are not alone.”
Planting Peace is a global non-profit organization that works in many different areas planning campaigns to deworm children, running orphanages, and working in rainforest conservation. Their work in support of LGBTQ individuals is also well known. They own Equality House, a rainbow-colored building directly opposite the Westboro Baptist Church hate group. In March this year, Planting Peace also declared Antartica the first LGBTQ-friendly continent.
We are aware of only one LGBT astronaut, Sally Ride, who was the first American woman in space and remains the youngest ever American astronaut to go into orbit.
As of August, 72 countries as well as five sub-national jurisdictions have laws criminalizing homosexuality. In 13 countries, you could be killed just for loving someone of the same sex.
The situation for transgender and non-binary people is often worse. Even in the US, not every state includes gender identity in their hate crime laws.
Some might consider a Pride flag in space to be an empty gesture, but raising awareness is crucial in the fight for equal rights across the world. And maybe it provides some solace to think that out of our beautiful infinite universe, hate is only found in a small portion of it.