A gay man in space? Jon Carmichael may become the very first.
Earlier this month, photographer Jon Carmichael shared his desire to be a part of the first all-civilian mission to space called Inspiration 4, according to LGBTQ Nation.
“Hey @Twitter fam! There’s a chance I could be the first gay man to go to SPACE!” Carmichael tweeted. “Please watch my story for the #Inspiration4contest and RT – if this tweet takes off, I could too!
After seeing Carmichael’s tweet, actor George Takei wrote on Twitter, “First gay man to go to space? I certainly can relate to that dream! Jon’s story is truly inspired. To my LGBTQs and allies, can we make this young man’s day with a RT barrage? Let’s give it maximum warp and help send Jon on that mission!”
First gay man to go to space? I certainly can relate to that dream!
Jon's story is truly inspired. To my LGBTQs and allies, can we make this young man's day with a RT barrage? Let's give it maximum warp and help send Jon on that mission! https://t.co/6gRM33DTVb
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 1, 2021
“I believe representation is important,” Carmichael later wrote when asked why being gay matters. “When I look back when I was a child/teenager who was terrified to come out, felt that I was less-than and would never amount to anything, had I seen an openly gay person being selected to go to space, it would’ve changed everything for me.”
I believe representation is important; when I look back when I was a child/teenager who was terrified to come out, felt that I was less-than and would never amount to anything, had I seen an openly gay person being selected to go to space, it would’ve changed everything for me.
— Jon Carmichael (@photographerjon) March 1, 2021
The mission, which is meant to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, will only have four crew members. In order to qualify for a seat, each of the crew members is meant to represent a “pillar” of inspiration. Jared Isaacman, a jet pilot who founded an e-commerce company and bankrolled the mission, will be the flight commander and represents “leadership.” Next, Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor who now works at St. Jude, represents “hope.” Meanwhile, the “generosity” position is meant to go to someone who has supported St. Judge. Then finally, the “prosperity” position is meant for an entrepreneur who has used Shift4Payments’ Shift4Shop platform to launch a business.
For Carmichael, who is from Las Vegas and is currently helping his mother fight both Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins lymphoma after surviving Stage 4 Hodgkins lymphoma five years ago, the mission is the perfect fit. If he gets to go, Carmichael would love to photograph the experience. You see, a love of photography and stars has been in his heart for years. Carmichael, who has photographed President Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, and Elton John, started taking professional photos when he was 20.
“I was going through a bit of a depression in my life because I had just come out, and I wasn’t received very well in circles I was in my life,” he told the Washington Blade. “So I ran away to L.A. to start a new life. And I suddenly fell in love with photography while I was there, and that sort of became my escape from my depression.”
A year ago, millions came together and witnessed one of the most beautiful moments in history. My dream was to capture this from a unique view to remind us of our place in the universe and to stay united in our humanity. Thank you @Twitter for sharing that vision. #eclipse108 pic.twitter.com/AjSzf27xxQ
— Jon Carmichael (@photographerjon) August 21, 2018
Then in 2017, Carmichael took a popular photo of the solar eclipse while riding a Southwest flight. Carmichael booked a flight from Portland, Oregon to St. Louis in order to get an in-air shot of the eclipse. The flight’s crew supported Carmichael by cleaning a window and even adjusting the plane’s flight pattern. The photographer then stitched together over 1,000 photos that he took quickly in the moment. The photo that surfaced from all that work led to a change in Carmichael’s career and interests.
With that in mind, it feels like Carmichael would be a great option for the space mission. But if he doesn’t get in, he’s already setting up other options. Carmichael is applying for Elon Musk and Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa’s dearMoon Project. That mission will see eight international artists fly to the Moon. So no matter what, it looks like Carmichael is set on traveling and photographing the stars. We look forward to the day when his dream comes true.