Fun with Flags: Pride!
A Basic Guide to Pride Flags, the Colours and the Histories
What are Pride flags? Why are there so many different flags? What do the colours mean?
These are some of the most common questions people often ask about pride flags. Just like sexual orientations and gender identities, very little is known among the public about the flags representing the sexual orientations. It is true that sometimes the different flags and colours used can be very confusing even for a member of the LGBT community. As such, this article is dedicated to the different Pride flags that people usually see and use to represent different sexual orientations.
Note that in this article, I will not be talking about the differences between the different sexual orientations as this was covered in my other article: Let's talk about sex...ual orientation. Go check it out! XD
Anyway, in this article, I will try to include the most common and definitive flags for each sexual orientation. I will explain the significance of the colours used in each flag and give a brief history of each flag. Hopefully, you guys will find them interesting as I did!
So, let's start with the most familiar one, shall we?
1. Gay Pride Flag
Almost everyone knows the gay pride flag. Not only it is representative of the gay community but more importantly, it serves as the face for the entire LGBTQ community and as the main representation of Pride.
Although this is arguably the most well-known pride flag, not many know that this six-stripe design was, however, not the original design for the pride flag. In fact, it has changed slightly from the original eight-stripe design.
Original Eight-Stripe Design
The gay pride flag was designed by Gilbert Baker, an openly gay activist, for the 1978 San Francisco Gay Freedom Celebration.
The flag depicts the seven colours of the rainbow (red to violet) with an additional colour, pink, at the top. Each colour has its own significance.
- Pink: Sexuality
- Red: Life
- Orange: Healing
- Yellow: Sunlight
- Green: Nature
- Turquoise: Magic
- Indigo: Serenity
- Violet: Spirit
According to Baker, the elements each colour represents are inherent in every person and that everyone shares the elements.
In 1978, Harvey Milk, gay San Francisco City Supervisor, was assassinated and the demand for the flag increased. To meet the demand, Baker stepped up his production of the flags. However, due to the unavailability of the hot pink fabric, Baker decided to drop the pink from his original design.
In 1979, there was another modification to the design. Baker realised that when hung vertically from a lamp post, the centre stripe was blocked by the post. So, he changed the design again by dropping the turquoise. And since then, the six-stripe design has been used to represent the gay community.
2. Lesbian Pride Flag
The lesbian pride flag features a labrys superimposed on an inverted black triangle set on a violet hue background.
Now, what is a labrys? A labrys is a double-bladed battle axe often associated with early Minoan societies and was used to represent the strength and independence of women. In the 1970s, the lesbian community started using the labrys as a lesbian feminist symbol of women's strength and self-sufficiency. However, this representation has fallen out of common use nowadays.
During World War II, women who did not fit the Nazi ideal for women were imprisoned and given a label for identification. The label was an inverted black triangle. Many lesbians later reclaimed the black triangle for themselves.
This labrys lesbian pride flag was designed by Sean Campbell in 1999. However, it is not as popular now as it once was. Instead, nowadays most people would recognise the seven-striped pink pride flag (below) as the lesbian pride flag.
Lipstick Lesbian Pride Flag
Lipstick Lesbian is a subcommunity of the lesbian community. They are lesbians who have very feminine gender attributes relative to other gender expressions, such as wearing make-up, dresses or skirts and so on.
This flag was designed by a blog author named Natalie in 2010. She posted the original design in her blog "This Lesbian Life" as a result of feeling that the sub community was being marginalised and often being disregarded as part of the lesbian community.
A variation of the lipstick lesbian pride flag is shown to the right. It has the same seven shades of pink, red and white, but without the lipstick symbol at the top left of the flag.
3. Bisexual Pride Flag
The bisexual pride flag features three colours: Pink, lavender, blue (top to bottom) in a 2:1:2 ratio. Each colour has its own significance:
- Pink: Attraction to the same gender (gay, lesbian)
- Blue: Attraction to the opposite gender (straight)
- Lavender in the middle: Attraction to both genders (bisexual)
The flag was designed by Michael Page in 1998 to increase the visibility of bisexuals in the LGBT community and society as a whole. He describes the bisexual flag as an accurate representation of bisexuals in the society because:
The purple pixels of color blend unnoticeably into both the pink and blue, just as in the 'real world,' where bi people blend unnoticeably into both the gay/lesbian and straight communities.
4. Polysexual Pride Flag
The polysexual pride flag features three coloured stripes: pink, green and blue (top to bottom) in a 1:1:1 ratio.
The flag was designed by a Tumblr user with the signature "Samlin." It was first posted on the blog @fuckyeahpolysexuality in 2012 (I could no longer find the blog anymore). Samlin wanted to design a pride flag for polysexuality as there was not one at that moment and so he decided to make one based on the bisexual and pansexual pride flags as they are "under the same multi-sexual umbrella."
Samlin borrowed the colours from the bisexual flag, changing the purple in the middle to green. The meanings of each colour are slightly different to the ones of the bisexual flag too:
- Pink: Attraction to female
- Blue: Attraction to male
- Green: Attraction to non-binary people
5. Pansexual Pride Flag
The pansexual pride flag has three coloured stripes, just like the polysexual pride flag, with the middle stripe being yellow instead of green. The significance of each colour is also similar to that of the pansexual pride flag:
- Pink: Attraction to female
- Blue: Attraction to male
- Yellow: Attraction to non-binary people
The original designer of the flag is unknown, but the flag has started showing up and becoming popular on the internet since mid-2010.
6. Asexual Pride Flag
The asexual pride flag has four coloured stripes, black, grey, white, purple (top to bottom). Just like other pride flags, each colour has its own meaning:
- Black: Asexuality
- Grey: Grey-asexuality
- White: Sexuality (non-asexual allies and community)
- Purple: Community
According to Asexuality Archive, the flag was a result of a competition led by Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) users in 2010. The selected design was created by AVEN user Standup.
Most grey-asexuals use the asexual pride flag too as there is currently no definitive flag for grey-aces and the grey stripe in the asexual pride flag represents grey-asexuality.
7. Intersex Pride Flag
The intersex pride flag features a purple ring in a field of yellow. It stays away from the usual pink and blue representation of male and female used in other flags. Instead, yellow and purple were used because according to Intersex Human Rights Australia, they are hermaphrodite colours. (Hermaphrodite is a biological term for organisms which have partial or complete reproductive organs and produce both male and female sex gametes, cells.)
The flag was created by the organisation in 2013. They describe the circle as "unbroken and unornamented, symbolising wholeness and completeness, and our potentialities." The circle also symbolises "the right to be who and how we want to be."
8. Transgender Pride Flag
The transgender pride flag has five coloured stripes: Light blue, light pink, white, light pink, light blue (top to bottom).
- Light blue: Trans-male
- Light pink: Trans-female
- White: Non-binary community
The flag was designed by US navy veteran, Monica Helms. She came out as trans in 1987. The idea came to Helms after her meeting with Michael Page (designer of bisexual pride flag) as he told Helms, "The trans community needs a flag too."
She designed the flag in 1999 and was first shown at a Pride parade in 2000. She described the flag as such:
The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.
9. Non-Binary Pride Flag
The non-binary pride flag has four coloured stripes: Yellow, white, purple, black (top to bottom).
- Yellow: The non-binary community as a whole
- White: Multiple genders (bigender, trigender etc.)
- Purple: Mix of male and female
- Black: No gender (agender etc.)
The flag was designed by 17-year-old Kye Rowan in 2014. Rowan initially created a few designs but the current design was chosen through messages and Tumblr note votes.
10. Straight Pride Flag
Last, but definitely not least, the straight pride flag. There is straight pride? You might ask. Yes, there is. And the straight pride flag is a mirror of the gay rainbow pride flag with its colours stripped off to give six shades of black, grey and white.
Heterosexuality is a sexual orientation and is valid as other sexual orientations. Straight people should be proud of their sexual orientation too. If you think about it, it makes total sense for straight people to have a pride flag, if only this was the original intention of the straight pride flag.
Straight pride started in the late 1980s as a response to the popularity gay pride was gaining back in the 1970s. It was meant to criticise gay pride for being unnecessary and ridiculous. Even nowadays, straight pride events are still held as a response against Pride and are often supported by those who object homosexuality from a religious standpoint.
And that's it! I have included 10 (well, actually nine) pride flags but do bear in mind that there are many other pride flags which represent the different subcommunities like the Bear Pride Flag, the Twink Pride Flag and so on.
I hope that this article has been useful to you and that you have learnt something new about LGBT Pride. Please do share this article on Twitter, Tumblr, everywhere, if you find it useful so that more people can see it and know more about Pride flags. If you haven't checked out my other article about sexual orientations, please do so too! I would really appreciate it.
And before I end, I just want to say:
Be proud of who you are. No matter your sexual orientation or gender identity or sex, the most important thing is that you don't care what others may say about you and be yourself. It will be the best feeling ever! <3 #Pride