In the age of Snapchat and smartphones, emojis have rapidly integrated themselves into our everyday lexicon. Vapid as it sounds, the reality is that a well-placed “winky face” or heart emoji can evoke a very real, very unique set of feelings in a person. And yet, even after the Orlando massacre and smack in the middle of Pride Month, it feels weirder than ever that a LGBTQ Pride emoji — like a rainbow flag, for instance — simply doesn't exist.
As emojis become increasingly valid means of expressing ourselves in our daily lives, more pressure has been placed on the creators of these symbols. There's been plenty of outcry already about the creation of inclusive and diverse designs, which was answered in part with additions like new skin tone adjustments, better representation for women, and same-sex families. These additions have done wonders in exemplifying a much wider array of people, ethnicities, and food groups (thank god for the taco emoji, amirite?).
Inspired by these inclusive changes and in honor of June being LGBTQ pride month, I'd like to keep the momentum going. Right now, representation of historical and identifiable gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming symbols are lacking, so I took the liberty of designing some.
LGBTQ culture has a rich history, and is full of impactful symbols and important messages that we would love to see represented.
The first set I'd like to see? These various pride flags. While there are dozens of different flags that represent the vast number of genders and orientations people identify with, I chose the following to start with, which include the universal LGBTQ pride flag (come on; that little rainbow emoji just isn't cutting it anymore).
As the trans rights movement continues to fight for equal rights, the popular symbol used to identify transgender individuals would be a useful addition as well. This emblem combines elements from the traditional symbols representing males and females.
During the Holocaust, upside-down triangles were used to identify gay and lesbian Jews in concentration camps. Gay men were made to wear the pink triangles, while women identified as “asocial women” (which included lesbians, feminists, and prostitutes) wore black triangles. Today, however, these symbols have been reclaimed by the gay and lesbian community as symbols of pride and unity in fighting persecution and injustice. The important and somewhat unknown history behind these symbols make the need for them in our updated collection even more profound.
Bisexual Triangles And Moons
Inspired by the upside-down triangles, a traditional symbol to identify the bisexual orientation looks like this: two overlapping shapes creating a third shape in the middle. In more recent history, the bisexual moons were created in an effort to distance themselves from the loaded origin of the upside-down triangles.
While having such a powerful meaning, it’s also a beautiful symbol (definite tattoo inspiration). When the conversation of human rights comes about, those who identify as bisexual often feel overlooked, making the symbols that represent them an important addition to this collection.
The Lambda is the Greek symbol for liberation, and is also used in physics and chemistry to represent energy. These characteristics are probably what attracted the New York Gay Activists Alliance to adopt it as their symbol in 1970 to represent the growing fight for gay liberation.
In more modern times, the Lambda sometimes is used to represent lesbian women and gay men working together.
The labrys is a double-sided awe, historically used by matriarchal societies for not only battle, but also harvesting. In modern times, this symbol has come to represent strength and self-sufficiency for many lesbians and feminists alike.
It’s also just really badass.
In the late 1800s, it's said that gay men (or “inverts,” as they were often referred to at that time) would wear green carnations on their lapels as a safe way of identifying each other. Oscar Wilde was famously known to frequently sport one of these flowers, which some say is a clue into his sexual proclivities.
Much like the pink triangles, the green carnation has been brought into modern times as a symbol of pride in the gay community.
The White Knot
In 2008, the notorious anti-gay piece of legislation Proposition 8 passed in the state of California, banning all same-sex marriages and denying several other rights and protections to the LGBTQ community. As a response, Frank Voci, a gay rights activist, created the white knot to wear in support of marriage equality for all. Combining traditional symbols like the color white and the phrase “tying the knot,” the white knot was worn by several celebrities including Dustin Lance Black, Josh Brolin, and Anne Hathaway. Although Proposition 8 was later overturned, the white knot still stands as a powerful symbol of unity between the straight and LGBTQ communities.
I realize that emojis, on the surface, may seem like a silly thing to focus on in the fight for equality. They're not. The symbols included in the emoji set are a direct read of society’s pulse when it comes to human rights. It may not be as impactful as changing legislation and or casting your vote for candidates that are allies to the gay community, but it’s small gestures of inclusion that help shift the attitudes of society. Seeing more diverse and inclusive symbols in your keyboard could make an impact, even if it’s just as you scroll to find the wine glass emoji.
Images: Bry Crasch/Bustle (8)