A gay activist from Kyrgyzstan plans to climb the world’s so-called Seven Summits — raising a Pride flag on each peak — to further LGBTQ visibility.
Dastan “Danik” Kasmamytov, a 28-year-old sports enthusiast, was among the first LGBTQ activists in Central Asia. He is also the founder of Pink Summits, described as “an inspirational campaign for the sake of visibility of LGBT+ all over the world.”
“We do this by climbing the highest mountains of each continent … documenting our journey, sharing our experiences, fundraising for local LGBT+ organisations and queer victims of violence, as well as providing mentorship for young queer folks around the world,” the campaign writes. “It is not only about raising the rainbow flag on every summit on the list, but also about the need to work together to make the inspirational voices of the LGBT+ communities more visible.”
Thus far, Kasmamytov and his fellow activists have scaled three mountains: Mount Elbrus (Europe) and Mount Kosciuszko (Australia) in 2018, and Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa) in 2019. In 2020, they plan to climb Mount Blanc (Europe) and Mount Aconcagua (South America).
The Seven Summits, as defined by Pink Summits, actually includes nine mountains. Due to funding limitations, Kasmamytov says they won’t complete the campaign until they scale Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, in 2025. He has been paying for the expeditions out of his own pocket, at a cost of roughly $7,000 per mountain, according to the Bay Area Reporter.
In several of the countries where the mountains are situated, it is dangerous to be openly LGBTQ. And BAR reports that Kasmamytov has already encountered some tense moments: “Climbing Elbrus, which is on the border of Georgia and Russia, he was questioned by the Russian secret service and his group was held at the border for several hours, he said. The mountain range is located in the most conservative part of Russia and isn’t far from Chechnya, which has been rounding up and torturing suspected LGBT Chechens since the end of 2016.”
Being gay is also illegal in Kasmamytov’s home country of Kyrstigstan, where he has received death threats and where people protested outside a recent presentation about Pink Summits.
“Many of the mountains are, unfortunately, dangerous. There are always people every year dying doing the mountaineering. Unfortunately, it’s a reality,” Kasmamytov told BAR. “But for me there is also additional risk for doing it for LGBT visibility.”
Kasmamytov is already the first openly gay Central Asian to bicycle from Asia to Europe. He currently resides in Berlin, Germany.
For more info on Pink Summits, visit pinksummits.com/en.