Californian athlete, Aidan Hyman, braved adverse conditions and battled health challenges like blood clusters and fever to make a strong statement by hoisting the Pride flag on one of the world’s most challenging peaks, K2 in Pakistan.

Sharing his experience with PinkNews, Hyman spoke of his determination to send a message: “It’s a testament to every queer individual out there, demonstrating that we indeed can.” He wanted to highlight the indomitable spirit and strength inherent to queer athletes.

The challenging journey saw the dedicated athlete traversing terrains for nearly three weeks. During this time, he celebrated his birthday on 19th June in the quaint village of Askoi, surrounded by his teammates and fellow climbers.


While the context in Pakistan remains fraught for the LGBTQ+ community, with same-sex acts between men leading to stringent punishments, there have been glimpses of progress. 2018 the Transgender Rights Bill was enacted, signalling hope for trans and non-binary individuals. However, by 2022, controversies resurfaced when Senator Mushtaq Ahmed challenged the bill, citing its inconsistency with the nation’s Islamic tenets.

As a University of California Davis student, Hyman has faced his share of challenges. He recalls feeling like an outsider during his younger days in the sporting arena. The absence of openly gay role models in sports fueled his mission. Ascending K2 wasn’t just about climbing a mountain, but about sending a message to young queer athletes everywhere: “You are valued. You belong.”

Drawing inspiration from Olympic champions like Tom Daley, Hyman remains adamant, “Our journey in sports is still riddled with challenges. We’ve got miles to go.” Every venture, from training for rigorous Ironmans to ultramarathons, symbolizes his commitment to inspiring queer youths: “I’m doing this for every queer youngster out there, dreaming big.”

A key aspect of his K2 mission was to support the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an organization ardently advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. He’s nearing his goal of raising $10,000 for the HRC. This cause holds special significance for Hyman as he witnesses alarming numbers of anti-LGBTQ+ bills being introduced in Republican-dominated states, with 80 of over 550 bills already becoming law this year.

Hyman’s fundraising efforts are prominently showcased on his Instagram. In a post with the caption “the mountains are for everyone”, he expressed his aspirations for a more inclusive world, especially for the LGBTQ+ community.

His next big venture is the iconic Kilimanjaro, the towering peak of Africa. He’s enthusiastic about hoisting a grand Pride flag there too. Scheduled for the summer of 2024, this climb is just a part of his upcoming challenges. Hyman is also gearing up for the esteemed New York and Chicago marathons, aiming to set a record as the youngest queer athlete to conquer all seven major marathons globally.