Pride Flags: The Color of our Community
For many queer people, having a label is important. It not only helps us self identify, but it can connect us with others who share similar or like minded feelings. We wanted to take a look at the beginnings of the rainbow flag in queer culture as well as other pride flags that represent different facets of our community.
Of course, this is only a brief list and there are many other pride flags* that have become adopted over the years. While we have chosen ones to reflect certain groups, we by no means are prioritizing one over another. We simply wish to give readers a quick history lesson and to encourage them to look beyond the standard six-color pride flag.
So, let's start at the beginning —
ORIGINAL PRIDE FLAG (1978)
Inspired by the classic song “Over the Rainbow” from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, Gilbert Baker created this LGBTQ pride flag. Each color means the following: hot pink, sex; red, life; orange, healing; yellow, sunlight; green, nature; turquoise, magic and art; indigo, serenity; violet, spirit.
7-COLOR PRIDE FLAG (1978-1979)
After Harvey Milk's assassination, demand for the rainbow flag increased. For some reason, the hot pink fabric was unavailable so he dropped the stripe.
CLASSIC PRIDE FLAG (1979)
In 1979, the flag was modified again. Aiming to decorate the street lamps for a Pride parade, Baker chose to split the motif in two with an even number of stripes flanking each lamp pole. To achieve this effect, he dropped the turquoise stripe resulting in the six-stripe version of the flag that would become the standard for future production.
UPDATED BAKER FLAG (2017)
Baker updated his original flag to include a lavender stripe that symbolized diversity.
PHILADELPHIA FLAG (2017)
Black and brown stripes were added to the standard six-color flag to draw attention to issues of people of color within the LGBTQ community.
PROGRESS PRIDE FLAG (2018)
Probably the most common of all the LGBTQ pride flags used today is the Progress Pride Flag. This flag incorporates elements from both the Philadelphia flag and trans pride flag. The idea was to focus on inclusion and progress within the community.
PROGRESS PRIDE INTERSEX UPDATE (2021)
Updated to put a focus on intersex inclusion, this flag is still quite new.
While the rainbow flag is beautiful and effectively meant to be inclusive to all facets of the LGBTIQIA+ umbrella, other flags have been made for specific sexualities, genders, and lifestyles:
A variant of this flag has been around since 2010 (and an even earlier version of a lesbian pride flag existed in 1999), but this trans-inclusive version was created in 2018 with the colors meaning: dark orange, gender non-conformity; orange, independence; light orange, community; white, unique relationships to womanhood; pink, serenity and peace; dusty pink, love and sex; and dark rose, femininity.
The pink color represents sexual attraction to the same sex only (gay and lesbian). The blue represents sexual attraction to the opposite sex only (straight) and the resultant overlap color purple represents sexual attraction to both sexes (bi).
The blue portion of the flag represents sexual attraction to those who identify as male (regardless of sex), the pink represents sexual attraction to those who identify as female (regardless of sex), and the yellow portion, found in between the blue and pink portions, represents sexual attraction to non-binary people, such as those who are agender, bigender and genderfluid.
The light blue and light pink are the traditional colors for baby girls and baby boys, respectively, while the white represents intersex, transitioning, or a neutral or undefined gender.
The yellow stripe represents people whose gender exists outside of the binary, the white stripe, people with many or all genders, the purple, people with genders considered a mix of male and female, and the black people who identify as not having a gender.
The genderqueer flag has three stripes: purple, representing those whose genders are of, between, or a mix of female and male; white, representing agenderness and gender neutrality; and chartreuse green, representing those outside the gender binary as it is the inverse color to purple.
The genderfluid pride flag has, from top to bottom, pink, white, purple, black, and blue stripes. The pink represents femininity, the white represents lack of gender, the purple represents a mixture of masculinity and femininity, the black represents all genders, and the blue represents masculinity.
The circle has been described as unbroken and unornamented, symbolizing wholeness and completeness, and our potentialities. While still fighting for bodily autonomy and genital integrity, this symbolizes the right to be.
The black stripe represents asexuality, the grey stripe representing the grey-area between sexual and asexual, the white stripe sexuality, and the purple stripe community.
This flag has seven horizontal stripes which are black, gray, white, green, white, gray, black. Both black and white represent the complete absence of gender, gray represents being semi-genderless, and green represents non-binary gender.
POLYAMAROUS INCLUSIVE (2020)
The polyamarous pride flag first debuted in 1995, and in just the last few years, has had multiple redesigns. This specific flag is intentionally inclusive as many discussions have taken place about the overlap of the LGBTQ and poly communities. This flag is comprised of four stripes, all of equal height. The colors include lime green for growth, kelly green for balance, sky blue for freedom, and royal blue for trust. The infinity heart represents the concept of infinite love. This flag is intended to be inclusive of all polyamorous people, including those who are aro-spec, ace-spec, or allosexual.
*If we've missed any flags that you'd like us to include on this list, feel free to reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org or by commenting below.