LGBTQ+ Flags 101: Everything You Need to Know About the Symbols of Pride
LGBT Flags: History, Meaning, and Diversity
If you have ever attended a Pride parade or event, you have probably seen a variety of colorful flags waving in the air. These flags are more than just pieces of fabric; they are symbols of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) pride and social movements. They reflect the diversity and history of the LGBT community and its spectrum of human sexuality and gender.
But how did these flags come to be? What do they mean? And who do they represent? In this article, we will explore some of the most common and popular LGBT flags, their origins, meanings, and significance.
The Rainbow Flag
The most widely recognized LGBT flag is the rainbow flag, also known as the gay pride flag or simply pride flag. It consists of six horizontal stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. It is often displayed horizontally, with the red stripe on top, as it would be in a natural rainbow.
The origin and evolution of the rainbow flag
The rainbow flag was created by Gilbert Baker, an American artist and gay rights activist. He was inspired by Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in California. Milk challenged Baker to create a symbol of pride for the gay community in 1978.
Baker chose a rainbow as a natural symbol from the sky. He assigned a meaning to each of his original eight colors:
Hot pink: Sex
The first rainbow flags were flown at San Francisco's Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. However, due to the limited availability of fabric, the hot pink and turquoise stripes were dropped and indigo was replaced by basic blue, resulting in the contemporary six-color version of the flag.
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The rainbow flag gained more popularity and visibility after the assassination of Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978. It became a symbol of solidarity and hope for the LGBT community in the face of violence and discrimination. Since then, the rainbow flag has been adopted by LGBT movements and organizations around the world.
According to Gilbert Baker, each color of the rainbow flag has a meaning:
The variations and adaptations of the rainbow flag
Over the years, the rainbow flag has been modified and adapted by different regions and movements to reflect their specific identities and causes. Some of the most notable variations are:
The Philly pride flag: In 2017, the city of Philadelphia added two black and brown stripes to the rainbow flag to represent people of color in the LGBT community. The flag was part of a campaign called "More Color More Pride" to address racism and discrimination within the LGBT community.
The progress pride flag: In 2018, Daniel Quasar, a graphic designer and queer activist, created a new version of the rainbow flag that incorporates elements from the Philly pride flag and the transgender pride flag. The flag features a chevron with five stripes: black and brown for people of color, light blue, pink, and white for transgender people, and the original six colors of the rainbow for everyone else. The chevron points to the right to indicate forward movement and progress.
The pride of Africa flag: In 2014, Eugene Brockman, a South African artist and activist, designed a flag that combines the colors of the African continent with the rainbow flag. The flag features a map of Africa in black on a white background, surrounded by six rainbow stripes. The flag celebrates the diversity and resilience of LGBT people in Africa.
The Other Flags
Besides the rainbow flag, there are many other flags that represent different identities and groups within the LGBT community. Each flag has its own history, meaning, and symbolism. Here are some of the most common and popular ones:
The bisexual pride flag
The bisexual pride flag was created by Michael Page, an American bisexual activist, in 1998. He wanted to create a symbol that would increase the visibility and recognition of bisexual people in the LGBT community and society at large.
The bisexual pride flag consists of three horizontal stripes: pink, purple, and blue. According to Page, each color has a meaning:
Pink: Same-sex attraction or homosexuality
Purple: Bisexuality or attraction to both sexes
Blue: Opposite-sex attraction or heterosexuality
The purple stripe is also a blend of pink and blue, representing the fluidity and diversity of bisexual identity and experience.
The transgender pride flag
The transgender pride flag was designed by Monica Helms, an American transgender woman and navy veteran, in 1999. She wanted to create a symbol that would represent the transgender community in a positive and inclusive way.
The transgender pride flag consists of five horizontal stripes: two light blue, two pink, and one white. According to Helms, each color has a meaning:
Light blue: Transgender men or people who were assigned female at birth but identify as male
Pink: Transgender women or people who were assigned male at birth but identify as female
White: Non-binary or genderqueer people who do not identify as exclusively male or female, or people who are transitioning or intersex
The transgender pride flag is also symmetrical, meaning that it can be flown or displayed in any direction and still be recognizable. This reflects the idea that there is no wrong way to be transgender.
The pansexual pride flag
The pansexual pride flag was created by Jasper Vender Velde, an American pansexual activist and graphic designer in 2010. He wanted to create a symbol that would distinguish pansexuality from bisexuality and other sexual orientations.
The pansexual pride flag consists of three horizontal stripes: pink, yellow, and blue. According to Vender Velde, each color has a meaning:
Pink: Attraction to people who identify as female or feminine
Yellow: Attraction to people who identify as non-binary or genderqueer
Blue: Attraction to people who identify as male or masculine
The pansexual pride flag expresses the idea that pansexual people are attracted to people regardless of their gender identity or expression. Pansexuality is sometimes defined as the attraction to all genders or the attraction to the person, not the gender.
The intersex pride flag
The intersex pride flag was designed by Morgan Carpenter, an Australian intersex activist and co-executive director of Intersex Human Rights Australia, in 2013. He wanted to create a symbol that would represent the human rights and dignity of intersex people.
The intersex pride flag consists of a yellow background with a purple circle in the center. According to Carpenter, each element has a meaning:
Yellow: A color that is often associated with neutrality or ambiguity, as opposed to the pink and blue binary
Purple: A color that is often used to represent diversity or uniqueness, as well as a combination of pink and blue
Circle: A shape that is unbroken and whole, symbolizing the wholeness and completeness of intersex people
The intersex pride flag also avoids using gendered symbols or colors, such as the Venus and Mars symbols or the pink and blue stripes. This reflects the idea that intersex people have diverse sex characteristics and identities, and that they do not need to be fixed or altered to fit into social norms.
The bear pride flag
The bear pride flag was created by Craig Byrnes, an American bear activist and publisher of Bear Magazine, in 1995. He wanted to create a symbol that would celebrate the subculture and identity of bear men.
The bear pride flag consists of seven horizontal stripes of brown, orange, yellow, beige, white, gray, and black. According to Byrnes, each color represents a different type or color of bear fur. The flag also features a bear paw print in the upper left co