Watch how this group declared outer space LGBTQ-friendly.

Planting Peace set out to create the universe's largest LGBTQ-friendly space.

It's official. Space has been declared LGBTQ-friendly.

GIFs by Planting Peace.

With a GoPro, a pride flag, and a high-altitude balloon, a nonprofit set out to make an important statement about human rights.

On Aug. 17, the team at Planting Peace followed in the footsteps (though, with significantly less genocide) of explorers like Columbus, Magellan, Raleigh, and others, laying claim to the vast nothingness that is space!


How did they do that? With a flag, of course.

Just outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Planting Peace launched a high-altitude balloon carrying a pride flag and a GoPro.

The pride flag soared 21.1 miles above the Earth's surface before coming back down. While the three-hour flight was short-lived, it was powerful in its symbolism.

The purpose of Planting Peace's action was to emphasize the importance of LGBTQ rights as universal human rights, with LGBTQ individuals able to live free from fear and discrimination on the basis of who they are.

"The backdrop of space gave us a stunning, inspiring and peaceful canvas for our message of hope to our LGBTQ family," wrote Aaron Jackson, president of Planting Peace, in an e-mail. "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."

You might remember Planting Peace for some of their other awesome work.

They're the folks with the rainbow-colored house across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church, battling the notorious organization in Pokémon Go.

And earlier this year, Planting Peace brought a flag to Antarctica to declare it the world's first LGBTQ-friendly continent!

Spreading a message of love (and having fun at the same time) is important work. It's something we can all do.

Maybe you don't have the ability (or desire) to paint your house all the colors of the rainbow, and maybe sending a GoPro 21 miles into the air doesn't sound like your idea of a great way to take care of your electronics. Even so, there are little things you can do, just like Planting Peace, to help make the world a better place.

The group's message is something we can all get behind, and something we can all help spread in our own little ways: "You are loved, valued, and beautiful. There is nothing wrong with you. You are not alone, and we will stand with you."

Watch the pride flag's epic trip to space below.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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