LGBTQ+ Pride has many colorful symbols. Here’s what each one represents.
June was officially designated as Pride Month in commemoration of the New York Stonewall Riots of 1969. These riots marked a before and after in the fight for civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community. A year later, on June 1970, LGBTQ+ activists across the country organized marches in cities across the country including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco in commemoration of Stonewall. These became the first Pride Parades in the United States.
It wasn’t until 1979, however, when Harvey Milk commissioned Gilbert Baker with the creation of his Rainbow Pride flag that the first symbol of the LGBTQ+ community was created. Since then its members have created numerous symbols to represent the widely diverse community.
Here’s a list of 18 of the most commonly used pride flags. Most of these have been shared by Pride.org, Outright Action International and The Gender & Sexuality Resource Center of the University of Northern Colorado (you can reference their pages for more information).
1. Rainbow Pride
The first Rainbow Pride flag was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978 after Harvey Milk’s commission. The first flag featured eight color strands; the pink and turquoise ones were later removed to make the mass production of the flag easier. Each color has a different meaning:
- Pink: sex
- Red: life
- Orange: healing
- Yellow: sunlight
- Green: nature
- Turquoise: magic
- Blue: harmony
- Violet: spirit
2. Philadelphia’s People Of Color Inclusive Flag
The Philadelphia People of Color Inclusive Flag was created in 2017 to give representation to black and brown people within the LGBTQ+ community and the unique challenges they face.
3. Progress Pride Flag
This new flag was designed by Daniel Quasar who sought out to give more meaning and emphasis to the Philadelphia flag’s design. The white, pink and light blue reflect the colors of the transgender flag, while black and brown represent people of color and those lost to AIDS. “The trans flag and marginalized community stripes were shifted to the Hoist of the flag and given a new arrow shape. The arrow points to the right to show forward movement, while being along the left edge shows that progress still needs to be made,” says Quasar in his Kickstarter.
4. Progress Pride Flag (2021)
When Gilbert Baker first created the Rainbow Flag he also advocated for its evolution over the years as the LGBTQIA community grew and identities emerged. First, in 2017 Philadelphia introduced a Pride flag under the direction of Amber Hikes that included a black and a brown stripe added to it to be sure that Black and brown folks knew they were included in the flag’s message. The following year, designer Daniel Qasar introduced the stripes of the transgender flag. This year, designer Valentino Vecchietti has once again reimagined the flag to include and acknowledge the intersex community. Vecchietti collaborated with Intersex Equality Rights UK, to incorporate the yellow and purple intersex flag that was introduced in 2013 by Morgan Carpenter of Intersex Human Rights Australia, which you can learn more about below. [ Photo: Twitter / @ValentinoInter]
5. Bisexual Pride Flag
The bisexual flag was first introduced in 1999 and was created by activist Michael Page who felt the rainbow flag was not entirely representative of the community, according to Pride. The different colored bands are meant to symbolize different kinds of attraction: Pink represents same-sex attraction, blue opposite-sex attraction, and purple represents attraction to both sexes.
6. Pansexual Flag
The Pansexual flag first started appearing online in 2010 as a symbol of attraction to all genders and to distinguish pansexuality from bisexuality. As is the case with the bisexual flag, each color stands for a different kind of attraction: Pink for attraction to women, yellow for attraction to all genders, and blue for attraction to men.
7. Polysexual Flag
Unlike pansexuality, polysexuality is the attraction to multiple genders but doesn’t include all. It’s the middle ground between bisexuality and pansexuality and it centers more around attractions to felinity and masculinity rather than the gender itself. Like in the bisexual and the pansexual flags each color on the polysexual flag is ascribed to a different kind of attraction.
- Pink: attraction to females.
- Blue: attraction to males.
- Green: attraction to those who don’t conform to either gender.
8. Lesbian Pride Flag
The Lesbian Pride Flag was created by Natalie McCray and was first introduced back in 2010 as the new Lesbian flag, according to Outright Action International. McCray’s original design had a red kiss mark in the top left corner and is still sometimes used to represent the feminine or “lipstick” lesbians. The different shades of red and pink are said to represent different shades of lipstick associated with different meanings:
- Darkest orange: gender non-conformity
- Middle orange: independence
- Lightest orange: equals community
- White: unique relationships to womanhood
- Lightest pink: serenity and peace
- Middle pink: love and sex
- Darkest pink: feminity
There is also an earlier design created in 1999 by graphic designer Sean Campbell which is somewhat controversial and unpopular within the lesbian community with its use of the black triangle, a symbol of lesbianism that can be traced to the concentration camps of the Holocaust, among other reasons.
9. Asexual Flag
Also introduced in 2010 it was inspired by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network‘s logo, according to Pride. It’s meant to represent the many ace identities including graysexuals (those who are fluid between sexual and asexuals) and demisexuals (people who don’t experience sexual attraction unless they have an emotional connection with their partners).
10. Polyamory Flag
The infinite number pi symbolizes the infinite selection of partners available to polyamorous people while its golden color represents the emotional attachment we have with others as friends and romantic partners rather than just our carnal relationships. Like with the other flags on this list, the background stripes also have their own significance:
- Blue: openness and honesty among all partners with which polyamorous people conduct their multiple relationships.
- Red: love and passion.
- Black: solidarity with those who must hide their polyamorous relationships from the outside world due to societal pressures.
11. Intersex Flag
The Intersex flag was designed in 2013 by the organization Intersex Human Rights Australia. It intentionally features non gendered colors to celebrate those who live outside the binary.
12. Transgender Flag
The transgender flag was created by a Monica Helms, a trans woman, back in 1999 and was first flown at a Pride Parade in Phoenix later that year, according to Pride. Its light blue and pink colors represent the traditional color for baby boys and girls with white representing those who are transitioning, who feel they have a neutral gender and those who are intersected. Its pattern, according to Helms, is such that no matter which way you fly the flag it is always correct. “This symbolizes us trying to find correctness in our lives,” says Helms.
13. Genderfluid Or Genderflexible Flag
The genderfluid or gender flexible flag encompasses all the fluctuations and flexibility of gender in genderfluid people, featuring colors associated with femininity, masculinity and everything in between:
- Pink: femininity
- White: lack of gender
- Purple: combination of masculinity and femininity
- Black: all genders including third genders
- Blue: masculinity
14. Genderqueer Flag
The Genderqueer flag was created in 2011 by genderqueer writer, musician, and digital media designer Marilyn Roxie. Its colors have the following meanings
- Lavender: androgyny
- White: agender identities
- Green: non-binary
14. Non-binary Flag
This flag was created in 2014 by then 17-year-old Kye Rowan. The flag was created in response to non-binary people feeling improperly represented by the genderqueer flag, as a symbol to sit beside Roxie’s option. Its colors have the following meanings:
- Yellow: gender outside a binary
- White: being a mix of all the colors represents those with many or all genders
- Purple: those who feel binary male and female or fluid between them
- Black: agender community without sexuality or color
15. Agender Flag
While genderqueer people bend rules of gender, agender ones reject gender completely. In their flag, black and white represent the absence of gender while green, the inverse of gender-heavy purple, represents nonbinary genders.
16. Aromantic Flag
The Aromantic flag was created by Australian Tumblr user @cameronwhimsy back in 2014, according to the University of Northern Colorado. The flag uses dark and light green to celebrate romanticism and the aromantic spectrum respectively. Black represents the sexual spectrum and white symbolizes platonic and aesthetic attraction, as well as queer, quasi platonic relationships while grey represents grey-aromantic (people who relate with aromanticism, yet feel their experience isn’t fully aromantic) and demiromantic people; those who don’t experience romantic attraction until they have formed a deep emotional connection with someone.
17. Straight Ally Flag
The Straight Ally flag was created sometime in the late 2000s although its origin remains unknown, according to the University of Northern Colorado. The flag was created for people who aren’t from the LGBTQ+ community but want to show their support for it. The “A”-shape represents “allies” of the LGBTQ+ community represented by the rainbow-colored bands, while the black and white ones represent their heterosexual or cisgender status.
See also: The CTA’s Rainbow-Wrapped Pride Train Has Returned And Will Run Through October
[Featured image from Unsplash / Mercedes Mehling]