Just as last year, this year’s pride month was also celebrated virtually. Although pride month is over, we shouldn’t stop ourselves from talking about pride all year round.
The pride movement has had a major impact in terms of representation of the queer community and one way of wearing that pride with pride is by waving the flag you most identify with!
The rainbow flag is widely used to represent the LGBTQ community, but it isn't the only flag with which members of the community identify. Over the years, several groups, genders, and identities have created their own flags to raise awareness of their own needs and experiences. While many Pride activities have been different this year as the world remains in the aftermath of COVID-19, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate. But do you know what the rainbow means and how it came to be associated with gay rights? What about the fact that the rainbow flag has gone through various iterations as it has evolved over time?
These LGBTQ flags are far more than just pieces of cloth; they know the tale of the people they represent, serving as means of visibility in a culture that does everything it can to deny their basic human and civic rights. Find out more about the meaning of some of the various LGBTQ flags as you discover more about what LGBTQ stands for, how to be an LGBTQ ally, and why Pride Month is in June. Here are 21 pride flags you may see at your next pride celebration.
1. Gilbert Baker Pride Flag
Gilbert Baker, an artist, activist, and openly homosexual war veteran, meet Harvey Milk, a fellow activist, future politician, and LGBTQ hero. Milk challenges Baker three years later to design a symbol for the gay community, and the result is the first rainbow LGBTQ flag. Each of the eight hues has its own significance:
- Pink: Sex
- Red: Life
- Orange: Healing
- Yellow: Sunlight
- Green: Nature
- Turquoise: Magic/Art
- Indigo: Serenity
- Violet: Spirit
On June 25, 1978, Baker's creation made its debut at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.
2. Pride Flag of 1978
If this LGBTQ flag appears familiar, it's because it's Baker's design with one change: the original 1977 flag's bright pink stripe has been deleted. The flag's colors have meanings, and hot pink represented sensuality, but that isn't the reason for its demise. Following Milk's assassination, demand for the flag he commissioned grew, but Baker and the Paramount Flag Company (which produced the flag) discovered that hot pink cotton was difficult to come by and decided to leave it out.
3. Gay Pride Flag (Traditional)
The original LGBTQ rainbow flag would take another year to complete its transformation. The turquoise stripe, which had lost its pink stripe in 1978, will suffer the same fate in 1979. There are two plausible explanations: either the turquoise material was difficult to come by, similar to the hot pink, or they wanted a flag with an even number of stripes. In any case, the six colored stripes that adorn the flag today are the result of that modification.
4. Demisexual Pride flag
On the asexual spectrum, is the demisexual flag (thus the identical colors in a different configuration), but it also has its own flag. The name was coined in 2006 by user "sonofzeal" on The Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN), however, the designer of the initial flag is unknown.
5. Asexual Flag
The Asexual Visibility and Education Network declared in 2010 that they sought "a sign that belongs to everyone." The flag is based on their emblem, with black representing asexuality, grey representing gray sexuals (those who are both sexual and asexual), and demisexuality representing demisexuality (sexual attraction following emotional connection). Purple is the color of the community.
6. Polyamory Flag
Those who identify as polyamorous have an endless number of partners open to them, just as the symbol pi continues indefinitely after the decimal. Not only does gold indicate sexual love, but it also represents emotional connection. In 2017, an updated version featuring infinity hearts instead of the pi sign was made.
7. Intersex Flag
This flag was designed by Intersex International Australia in 2013 and features non-gendered colors that "honor living outside the binary." The transgender flag also includes intersex (differences in sex characteristics).
8. Progress Pride Flag
Daniel Quasar designed this flag in 2018 in reaction to Philadelphia's new pride banner. It incorporates the colors and stripes of Philadelphia's pride flag as well as the colors of the transgender pride flag.
"When the Pride flag was rebuilt in the last year to include both black/brown stripes as well as the trans stripes incorporated this year," Quasar writes on the flag's Kickstarter page, "I wanted to explore if there might be more emphasis in the design of the flag to give it more meaning.”
9. Transgender Flag
The Transgender Flag has been around since 1999 when it was established by Monica Helms, an American transgender Navy veteran. The flag made its debut at a Pride march in Phoenix a year later. Because light blue and pink are the typical hues associated with baby boys and girls, they are included. Those who are intersex, transgender, or consider themselves as having a neutral or indeterminate gender are represented by the white.
10. Genderfluid/Genderflexible Flag
This flag was created to represent all aspects of genderfluidity (as their gender can change over time): pink for femininity, blue for masculinity, white for no gender, black for all genders, and purple for a mix of masculine and feminine traits. The flag was designed by JJ Poole in 2012.
11. Lesbian Flag
Gender nonconformity, freedom, community, unique relationships to women, tranquility and calm, love and sex, and femininity were all celebrated in this new iteration in 2018. The battle over representation continues.
12. Polysexual Flag
Polysexual (who are attracted to numerous genders but not all of them, unlike pansexuals) use the same colors as pansexuals, with green signifying non-conforming genders and pink and blue representing female and male, respectively. Attraction to masculinity/femininity, rather than gender, can be a sign of polysexuality. The flag was designed in 2012 on Tumblr.
13. Aromantic Pride Flag
In a similar color scheme, the aromantic flag's green depicts those who live without or with a different romantic desire. All aromantic sexualities are represented by grey and black stripe. This flag had two previous iterations: The date of the first one is unknown, however, the second and final/current versions were both designed in 2014. Aromanticism is represented by the color green, which occurs in two hues on the flag, along with white (platonic and aesthetic attraction), grey (gray-aromantic and demiromantic people), and black (aromantic and demiromantic people) (the sexuality spectrum).
14. Labrys Lesbian Pride Flag
The Labrys Lesbian Pride Flag has existed since 1999, albeit it isn't as well-known as some of the other LGBTQ flags on this list. A labrys is a double-headed battle-ax that may be traced back to matriarchal societies like the Minoans and can be seen on the flag. The labrys was embraced by some lesbian radical feminist groups in the 1970s as a symbol of liberation for cisgender women before making its way onto this flag. Lesbians are represented by the black triangle in the flag, while cisgender women are represented by purple.
15. Leather Pride Flag
Though this flag was created to represent members of the leather subculture, it was quickly adopted by the wider BDSM and fetish community. The emblem, created by Tony DeBlase for Chicago's International Mr. Leather festival in 1989 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, signifies people who engage in kink, including heterosexual and cisgender persons. The flag, which consists of nine horizontal stripes alternating in color between black and blue, a white stripe in the center, and a red heart in the upper lefthand corner, is open to interpretation.
16. QPOC Flag
It is unknown who created the flag as a symbol of Queer People of Color, but it represents solidarity with the BLM movement as well as the intersection of the queer and Black communities (including the importance of figures like Marsha P. Johnson, the Black drag queen who may have thrown the first brick at the Stonewall Inn riots). It's no wonder that the flag is expected to grow in popularity in 2020 and beyond. The raised fist symbolizes solidarity, support, defiance, and resistance, and the varied colors on the fist indicate diversity.
17. Bisexual Flag
Michael Page wanted to bring attention to bisexual people in the LGBTQ+ community in 1998. Lavender—attractive to both sexes—overlaps the conventional hues for boys (blue) and females (pink). There are different flags to express attraction to more than one gender (as you'll see), and bisexuality doesn't always mean an attraction to two sexes.
18. Bear Brotherhood Flag
The "bear flag" was created by Craig Byrnes and Paul Witzkoske in 1995 for a subculture of masculine-presenting homosexual, bisexual, and trans males who embrace facial and body hair and may have a bigger physique. The diverse colors of bears are represented by each stripe. It appears to be the only subculture with its own flag so far, while a "twink flag" is supposedly used online.
19. Lipstick Lesbian Flag
If you're looking for the most feminine pride flag, look no further. Although it isn't a well-recognized emblem, it honors femme lesbians who are affectionately referred to as "lipstick lesbians."
20. Rubber Pride Flag
This sign is similar to the leather Pride flag and is for members of the rubber and latex fetish community. The design was conceived in 1995 as a means of identifying like-minded men and [it] expresses the sensory, physical, and mental enthusiasm we have for rubber, according to Peter Tolos and Scott Moats.
21. Ally Pride Flag
Although its exact genesis is unknown, the Ally Pride Flag was designed in the late 2000s as a symbol of heterosexual and/or cisgender persons who actively support LGBTQ people. The “A” in the flag's center stands for the term ally and is made up of the rainbow pride flag's six colors. People who are heterosexual and/or cisgender are represented by the black and white stripes in the background.