During the month of June, we celebrate Pride. Various Pride flags have been flown over state and federal buildings, in front of private residences, on crosswalks, and in community parades and festivities. Flags are political symbols that signify belonging to a group, working together, and being seen. The Pride flag has changed over the years to reflect the wide variety of communities that fly it on Pride Day. Discover the backstory of this iconography by reading on.
Maybe you’ve seen the Pride flag with its colorful stripes. Recent years have seen an expansion and updating of this flag to better represent the rich diversity of the LGBTQIA2-S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and Two-Spirit) communities.
For many LGBTQIA2-S groups, the pink triangle served as a visual symbol even before the rainbow-striped Pride flag was adopted. This emblem is based on those that homosexual inmates of Nazi concentration camps were required to wear. During the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, ACT-UP was perhaps the most well-known user of the pink triangle emblem. Green carnations, purple hand prints, the Greek letter lambda, blue feathers, and aces are some of the other symbols utilized by LGBTQIA2-S communities.
In the late 1970s, Harvey Milk, the first openly homosexual man elected to public office and a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, asked his friend Gilbert Baker to create a symbol for the gay community. Baker’s pal Lynn Segerblom (also known as Faerie Argyle Rainbow) helped him create the eight-color rainbow flag.
At the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco, Baker and Segerblom unveiled their new flag. There was deep meaning behind each of the original eight hues. The color hot pink symbolizes sexuality, whereas other colors, from red to orange to yellow to green to turquoise to indigo to violet, represent life, healing, magic, art, sunlight, nature, peace, and the spirit. Difficulties in producing and/or coloring the original flag’s cloth led to its removal of the original flag’s hot pink and turquoise stripes, leaving the flag with the famous six-color rainbow flag we see today.
Numerous subcommunities within the LGBTQIA2S community even have their own unique Pride flags. Transgender, bisexual, lesbian, pansexual, and asexual communities all have their own flags to fly with pride. Even yet, the rainbow flag has always been the most popular and widely recognized emblem of Pride for the LGBTQIA2S community.
The Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs unveiled the Philadelphia Pride banner in 2017; it included black and brown stripes in addition to the traditional rainbow Pride flag in order to specifically honor and celebrate the contributions of persons of color within the LGBTQIA2-S community. That was done because of the long history of racism and sexism towards Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) in the LGBTQIA+ community, which has been dominated by white people.
The Progress Pride Flag was created in 2018 by Portland, Oregon, native and artist Daniel Quasar. The Trans Pride flag’s pink, white, and blue stripes were included in this flag alongside the Philadelphia Pride flag’s black and brown stripes. Many members of the LGBTQIA2-S community have praised the Progress Pride Flag for its welcoming message. We celebrate Pride every June to remember the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, in which transgender and gender varied individuals of color played a vital role. Quasar’s strategy of representing several historically disadvantaged groups within LGBTQIA2-S communities is timely and relevant.
Inspired by Morgan Carpenter’s original Intersex Pride banner from 2013, 2021’s Valentino Vecchietti produced a new flag that welcomes people of all gender identities and expressions. The traditionally feminine hues of blue and pink are contrasted with the more gender-neutral purple and yellow. Intersex persons, like people of color and transgender people, have been overlooked or ignored by larger LGBTQIA2-S groups.