Two Men Celebrate British Antarctica's First Same-Sex Wedding

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday April 30, 2022
Originally published on April 25, 2022

Stephen Carpenter and Eric Bourne celebrate thier weddign with crew mates on polar resaearch ship RRS Sir David Attenborough.
Stephen Carpenter and Eric Bourne celebrate thier weddign with crew mates on polar resaearch ship RRS Sir David Attenborough.  (Source:Rich Turner)

Love is love, and it's now more global than ever: Two stewards aboard a British research vessel celebrated a same-sex wedding at the bottom of the world, in a first-of-its-kind ceremony for British Antarctica, the BBC reported.

"Stephen Carpenter, from Caerphilly, and Eric Bourne, from Rochford, Essex, tied the knot on board RRS Sir David Attenborough, which they are stewards on," the BBC said of the April 24 wedding.

"The couple, who have been together for 20 years, shared their special day with the 30 crew of the UK's new polar ship," with Captain Will Whatley officiating the ceremony on the ship's helipad.

UK newspaper the Independent relayed that the couple "are both experienced seafarers and have travelled the world together on a variety of ships.

"Mr Bourne has spent the last three years working for BAS [British Antarctic Survey], and the pair decided Antarctica would make the perfect venue for their nuptials after Mr Carpenter joined the ship's crew," the article added.

Bourne spoke to the occasion's historic significance, but also to the welcoming environment afforded by the couple's employer, UK newspaper the Guardian detailed.

"BAS is such a welcoming and accepting employer, and we feel very lucky to be able to live and work in such an incredible community and place together," Bourne said.

"The BAS said the couple's big day 'will mark a historic step for diversity and inclusion in polar science,'" the Guardian added.

The couple's crewmates enthusiastically joined in the occasion, the Metro said.

"Kilts, hardy boots and a snowmobile were on display for the quirky ceremony, which saw colleagues hold ice picks as the couple walked down a frosty 'aisle' in front of their ship," the news outlet shared, adding that the wedding took place in "sunny conditions, allaying fears that their big day might have to be delayed by the weather."

The reception was an equally festive affair, as rainbow flags flew from the ship and a wedding cake sporting a pair of penguins awaited cutting.

"The group were warmed by food prepared by the station chef," the Metro noted, while dancing to "music from the facility's resident band" kept everyone warm.

A larger gathering is planned for later: "Around 100 staff from the research station will join them for a wedding reception next month," the Metro added.

"We're both very proud to be the first same-sex marriage to happen in British Antarctic Territory," Bourne told the media.

"We've even had the coordinates of the wedding location engraved into our rings," Carpenter said.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.