Like many communities, the LGBTQ community has almost a secret language unto itself. Symbolism is a major part of that. In recent years, some of the queer community’s symbols have reached media saturation in the mainstream. The best example that comes to mind? The rainbow flag. It seems like just about everyone in this country—and, I daresay, in most—knows what the rainbow flag represents. Many don’t accept the LGBT use of the rainbow, and attempt to argue about it via poorly worded facebook statuses, but they all know what it means. However, the rainbow flag is only one symbol of many.
The LGBTQ Pride Flag/Gay Pride Flag: The rainbow that we all know and love was once representative of only the gay and lesbian communities. As more letters and more individuals were added into the queer community, the significance of the rainbow flag grew with it. The original rainbow flag was designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978. His original design had eight colors, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, and violet. It was modified in 1979 and 1980 into the six-horizontal-color-lines that we know now. The current rainbow flag depicts red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
Baker’s original rainbow flag was heavily inspired by the hippie movement. He attributed the following meanings to the colors in his flag. Pink = sexuality, red = life, orange = healing, yellow = sunlight, green = nature, turquoise = magic/art, indigo = serenity, and violet = spirit. Each color, both in modernity and the six-color flag in general, is no longer typically thought to hold any special meaning.
Bisexual Pride Flag: The Bisexual Pride Flag was designed by Michael Page in 1998. The bisexual flag is recognizable by its large pink and blue squares, with a thinner rectangle of purple in the middle. Page said at the unveiling of this flag that the pink represents gay attraction, the blue represents straight attraction, and the purple represents the bisexual individual who experiences both. This flag, like many of the other sexuality flags, are much less commonly used than the more inclusive rainbow.
Pansexual Pride Flag: The pansexual pride flag, much like pansexuality as a term, is a much newer invention. The pansexual pride flag is made up of three equal-sized horizontal bars. Pink represents the feminine gender spectrum. Yellow represents the non-binary gender spectrum. Blue represents the masculine gender spectrum. It began appearing around the internet in 2010. The flag’s designer is unclear.
Asexual Pride Flag: The asexual flag became widely used 2010. It is unclear who first designed its present incarnation, but the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) began using the four-bar flag in 2010. The four bars of color comprising the asexual flag are black, grey, white, and purple.
Transgender Pride Flag: The transgender pride flag was designed by transwoman Monica Helms in 1999. The flag is made up of five horizontal bars of color. Blue, pink, white, pink, and blue. These colors represent both gender identities and birth-assigned sexes. The white in the center represents those who are transitioning or non-binary. The white stripe has also historically represented those who are intersex, but the intersex community has since developed their own flag and symbols.
Genderqueer Pride Flag: The genderqueer pride flag was designed by Marilyn Roxie in the early 2000s. It consists of three stripes, purple, white, and dark chartreuse. The purple represents the traditional gender spectrum, that between masculine (blue) and feminine (pink). The white represents those who are agender, androgynous, and gender neutral. The dark chartreuse, being the inverse of the purple, represents those who identify off of the traditional gender spectrum.
Intersex Pride Flag: The Intersex pride flag was developed by the Australian Intersex Organization in July of 2013. The flag depicts a purple circle on a yellow background. They chose these colors to be representative of living intersex without the need for traditional pinks and blues.
Pink Triangle: The pink triangle refers to the patch gay men were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. This symbol was reclaimed most famously by activist organization ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) during the height of the AIDS pandemic.
Black Triangle: The black triangle was the Nazi symbol for lesbians. This symbol is, to my knowledge, fairly rarely used in modernity.
Pink and Blue Triangle: The pink and blue triangles were designed around the same time as the bisexuality pride flag in the late 1990s. The pink and blue overlapping triangles, sometimes referred to as bi-angles, are uncommonly used since the triangles have such a heavy history.
Labrys: The labrys, a double-edged ax, has been used as a symbol for lesbianism since the 1970s. It is thought to have been a reference to Sappho. It now represents lesbian and feminist strength and self-sufficiency.
Lambda: In the 1970s, the Greek letter lambda was designated the symbol of legal gay rights by the Gay Activists Alliance of New York City. The name has been adopted by the largest LGBTQ rights law firm in the country, Lambda Legal.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of LGBT symbols. What are some other symbols you can think of? Do you have any interesting personal pride symbols that are not commonly used? Share!