It's officially Pride Month, which means you're probably going to spend the next 29 days surrounded by all things rainbow. The
rainbow pride flag, created in 1978 by gay activist Gilbert Baker, has gone through some cosmetic changes over the years — including a petition to add black and brown to the flag to uplift queer people of color — but it is still the single most unifying and identifiable symbol of the LGBTQ+ community. The rainbow flag, however, is not the only queer pride flag around. To get prepared for Pride, here are 10 pride flags whose symbolism everyone should know.
In 2017, a month before his death, Baker spoke with ABC7, a local San Francisco news channel, explaining that gay rights activist Harvey Milk had been the one to approach him about creating the original rainbow flag, seeking a
symbol under which the LGBTQ+ community could unite, something that "would take the place of the dreaded pink triangle used decades ago by the Nazis to identify homosexuals."
Baker told ABC7 he wanted to make a flag because "
[f]lags are about power. Flags say something. You put a rainbow flag on your windshield and you're saying something." Baker ended up saying something with each color he chose to put on the flag: "Pink is for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, [...] green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for serenity, and purple for the spirit.”
“The point of the
rainbow flag was that we were all together — all colors, types, and sexualities were represented,” Jonathan David Katz, Ph.D., an associate professor of Practice in Art History and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, previously told Bustle. “[Baker’s] initial thinking of the rainbow flag was that it would serve as an absolute marker of inclusiveness.” But over the years, Baker's original flag has since inspired dozens of other pride flags, representing a vast array of sexual orientations, romantic orientations, and gender identities. Chances are, if you go to Pride this year, you're going to spot quite a few of these 10 flags amongst the crowd. 1 Transgender Pride
The transgender pride flag is one of the most well-known out of all of these. Trans woman Monica Helmes created the flag in 1999, and according to transgender advocacy organization Point Of Pride, Helmes described its color scheme thus:
"The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct,
signifying us finding correctness in our lives." She told The Daily Beast in 2017, “I say the rainbow flag is like the American flag: everybody’s underneath that. But each group, like each state, has their own individual flag.” It was first flown at Pride in Phoenix, Arizona in 2000. 2 Bisexual Pride Vladimir Vladimirov/E+/Getty Images
national General Social Survey revealed in 2019 that around 3% of all Americans are bisexual, and analytics company Gallup found that 57% of LGBTQ+ Americans identify as such in 2021, it's surprising the bisexual flag isn't more well known. According to bisexual advocacy organization Biscuit, when Michael Page, the flag's designer, put it together in 1998, "there was no universal symbol under which the [bisexual] movement could unite," and to this day, "many people don’t really know where [the flag] came from of what it represents."
According to Biscuit, the flag's colors each had a meaning: "Pink, a colour [
sic] often associated with homosexuality, represents same sex attraction; blue, its opposite in the common consciousness if not on the colour [ sic] wheel, different sex attraction; and the purple a melding of the two." 3 Aromantic Pride
Generally, an aromantic person experiences little
or no romantic attraction to other people, though they can definitely experience love and affection of other kinds. The University of Northern Colorado traced the aromantic pride flag’s two most common designs — five-striped with dark green, light green, yellow or white, gray and black stripes — to the same designer: an Australian Tumblr user named Cameron ( @cameronwhimsy). The most recent design with a white stripe, was updated in late 2014, per the University of Northern Colorado. The dark green represents aromanticism, the light represents the spectrum of aromantics, white represents platonic and aesthetic attraction, gray represents demi-romantic and gray-aromantic people, and black represents the entire sexuality spectrum. 4 Genderfluid Pride
The genderfluid pride flag was
created by JJ Poole on Tumblr in 2013, and its five stripes represent the diversity of gender fluidity, according to the University of Colorado. The pink stripe means femininity, white represents lack of gender, purple represents a combination of both masculinity and femininity, black represents all gender identities, and blue represents masculinity.
“A gender fluid person’s gender identity can fall in between two binary genders — or, the person may
identify their gender on an ever-changing spectrum,” Kryss Shane, LGBTQ+ expert and sex and relationship expert, previously told Bustle, adding that genderfluid means the gender identity changes, so sometimes the person identifies as male, sometimes as female, sometimes non-binary. Folks who are genderfluid may also swap pronouns, or may use neo or nonbinary pronouns like "xe/xir." 5 Nonbinary Pride
Nonbinary people can identify as neither man or woman or feel they identify as more toward the masculine side of the scale, more toward the feminine, or somewhere off the scale entirely. The nonbinary pride flag was created by a Tumblr user, Kye Rowan, in 2014, according to
the University of Northern Colorado. Its yellow stripe is for people who identify outside the gender binary, white is for people with multiple genders, purple with a mixture of male and female genders, and black is for agender individuals, per the University of California Santa Barbara. 6 Intersex Pride
There are multiple versions of an intersex flag, but this version was designed by Intersex Human Rights Australia in 2013 as a way to offer intersex folks something different. "Many
attempts [to create an intersex flag] have seemed derivative, of a rainbow flag, of gendered pink and blue colours [ sic], of transgender symbols, or an infinity symbol used by some bisexual groups," the organization said in a statement on its website. By contrast, this version utilizes a purple circle on a yellow background to distinguish itself.
The organization’s head and flag designer, Morgan Carpenter, wrote on his website,
“The colours [ sic] and circles... seek to completely avoid use of symbols that have anything to do with gender at all. Instead the circle is unbroken and unornamented, symbolising [ sic] wholeness and completeness, and our potentialities.” In 2021, the Progress Pride flag, which is designed to include all aspects of gender identity and sexuality, was altered to include the intersex circle for the first time. 7 Pansexual Pride
According to internet archives, the
pansexual pride flag popped up on Tumblr as early as 2010. Pansexual means you’re attracted to people all along the gender spectrum, hence ‘pan,’ which means ‘all,’” sex educator Emma McGowanwrote for Bustle in 2020. Bustle previously reported that LGBTQ+ blog Freedom Requires Wings identified the pansexual flag as having colors that "encompass the genders that pansexual people are attracted to — that is, everyone!": Pink to represent feminine people, blue to represent masculine people, and a yellow/gold stripe to represent folks of nonbinary or other genders. 8 Genderqueer Pride
Folks who are
genderqueer have experiences that are "subjective and completely different and fluid for everyone," Meg Zulch wrote for Bustle in 2015. "Some of us feel masculine and feminine at the same time. Some of us feel feminine one day and masculine the other. And then some of us don't feel masculine or feminine (also known as agender).”
According to the organization
Genderqueer and Non-Binary Identities (GNBI), the genderqueer flag was designed by Marilyn Roxie in 2011. Its colors — lavender, white, and dark green — contain meanings; lavender "is meant to represent androgynes and androgyny," white is "meant to represent the agender identity," and dark green is "meant to represent those identities which are defined outside of and without reference to the binary,” per GNBI. 9 Asexual Pride Asexuality encompasses a wide spectrum, from people who have very little sexual attraction to others, to other asexual folks who do have sex. The asexual flag first appeared in 2010 when AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) held an online contest for a flag design. The winning design’s colors represent identities within the asexual umbrella, according to The Asexuality Archive. Black is for straight-up asexual, gray is for gray-asexuality and demisexuality, white is for non-asexual partners and allies, and purple is for the asexual community as a whole. 10 Progress Pride Flag
Progress Pride flag is a reimagining of the Pride flag that visually represents Black and brown members of the LGBTQ+ community, those living with or who have died from HIV/AIDS, and the transgender community. Designed in 2018 by artist Daniel Quasar, the flag combines elements of both Gilbert Baker’s classic Pride flag as well as the Philadelphia Pride flag, which added the black and brown stripes in 2017. In 2021, intersex activist Valentino Vecchietti created another version with a purple circle on a yellow background, to visually include the intersex community on the Progress Pride flag.
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This article was originally published on
June 5, 2018