On August 17 a nonprofit called Planting Peace sent the first pride flag into space, and in doing so, declared space LGBTQ friendly. The reason you might ask? To support the ongoing fight for the fundamental human rights of our LGBTQ family, moving us closer to a universal understanding that all people deserve to live freely and love freely without fear and discrimination.
According to Planting Peace President, Aaron Jackson, “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.”
To achieve this unusual feat, they used a high altitude balloon with a GoPro attached, and launched just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The pride flag was airborne for just over three hours before making its way back to earth. At its peak altitude, the flag soared 21.1 miles above the earth’s surface.
Jackson said “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.
In a similar move, Planting Peace declared Antartica “the world’s first LGBT-friendly continent” back in March 2016.
Planting Peace got it’s start in activism with the opening of it’s first orphanage in Haiti in 2004. Since then they’ve opened five more – three in Haiti and two in India. In 2005 the organization began it’s deworming efforts in Haiti. Since then they’ve dewormed 15.7 million kids around the world.
Over the past few years, the organization has engaged in a number of high-profile campaigns to support increased LGBT visibility and activism. Most notably, in 2012 the organization purchased a home across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. They painted the house in rainbow colors and named it The Equality House. This year they bought the house next door and created the Transgender Pride house. Together the houses display a sharp contrast from their hateful neighbor. The vibrant houses also serve as a safe space and community center for the local LGBTQ community and see upwards of 150 visitors a day from all around the world.
They’ve strategically placed billboards around the country to call out anti-LGBT bigotry, including one in North Carolina blasting the anti-lgbtq House Bill 2, another in the hometown Kim Davis – the court clerk who refused to marry gay couples in her town. They made headlines several months ago with their billboard near the 2016 Republican National Convention featuring an image of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump kissing. In pure Planting Peace fashion, this past August the organization sponsored the very first pride festival in Morehead, Kentucky – home of anti-lgbtq court clerk, Kim Davis.