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The Flags of Pride

June is Pride Month, when the world’s LGBTQIA+ communities come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves.

Pride gatherings are rooted in the arduous history of minority groups who have struggled for decades to overcome prejudice and be accepted for who they are.

The original organizers chose this month to pay homage to the Stonewall uprising in June 1969 in New York City, which helped spark the modern gay rights movement. Most Pride events take place each year in June, although some cities hold their celebrations at other times of the year. Pride events are geared toward anyone who feels like their sexual identity falls outside the mainstream – although many straight people join in, too, for a variety of reasons.

Pride Month is a month of celebration and awareness. The parades, the picnics, the workshops, and the concerts are all a joyous opportunity to get together and praise the people who had the courage to stand up and fight for equality and freedom. Every Gay Pride event celebrates the past but also looks into the future, a future with no discrimination, violence, and hate towards our people. Pride celebrations and community events are organized to serve as a reminder that the LGBT community is just as “normal” as the rest of us, and no one should be marginalized because of their sexuality or gender identity.

The Gilbert Flag

The original rainbow flag, known as The Gilbert Flag was created in 1977 by Gilbert Baker, an artist, activist, and openly gay military veteran. Tasked by Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, to create a flag for the queer community, Baker created a rainbow flag with eight different colors. San Francisco City Supervisor and first openly gay elected official in the history of California, Harvey Milk commissioned the flag to be designed by artist Gilbert Baker and made its debut at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration on June 25, 1978. And they weren’t just random colors either! Each color was representative of the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Hot pink = Sex

Red = Life

Orange = Healing

Yellow = Sunlight

Green = Nature

Turquoise = Magic/Art

Indigo = Serenity

Violet = Spirit

“We needed something to express our joy, our beauty, our power. And the rainbow did that." - Gilbert Baker

1978-1999 Pride Flag

After the assassination of Harvey Milk in November 1978, many wanted the Pride flag he commissioned to commemorate his accomplishments for the community and their personal support. The demand was greater than the available fabric, so the Paramount Flag Company began selling this version of the flag, as did Gilbert Baker, who had trouble getting hot pink fabric

The Pride Flag You Know

So what about the turquoise?

While Refinery 29, the manufacturer of the flags in San Fransisco, simply says it was too tough to manufacture too, a plethora of sources including Gay Pride New Orleans’ history, say it was about making the flag more street-ready after the assassination of Harvey Milk. Wishing to demonstrate the gay community’s solidarity in response to this tragedy, the 1979 Pride Parade Committee decided to use Baker’s flag in honor of Milk. The committee eliminated the turquoise stripe so they could divide the colors evenly as they walked the parade route, three colors on one side of the street and three on the other. Syracuse New Times, meanwhile, has a similar story—but says, instead, that it was due to the challenge of splitting the colors in half to evenly hang on posts. Smaller changes were made, too. Commenter Mooslug points out that the former indigo stripe was shifted to a more classic “royal blue” in time.

More Colors More Pride Flag

It wasn’t until June of 2017, under the leadership of Amber Hikes, the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs unveiled the “More Colors More Pride” flag. This version of the Pride flag includes a black stripe and a brown stripe to draw attention to underrepresented people of color within the community. The flag was part of the "More Color More Pride" Campaign in Philadelphia and was designed by a small Philly-based PR agency. The city of Philadelphia had previously faced accusations of racial discrimination in its gay bars, which led 11 queer nightlife venues to take antiracism training. Many white men were outraged by the flag, claiming that rainbow includes all skin colors, but with a star like Lena Waithe donning it at the Met Gala, it seems the design is here to stay.

“The flag was designed to reinforce our strides towards combating discrimination within our community, honor the lives of our black and brown LGBTQ siblings, and uplift our shared commitment to diversity and inclusion within our community.” - Amber Hikes

Queer Pride Flag

A lesser-known flag from 2015, the Queer Pride Flag represents every aspect of queerness as the “queer” label becomes more celebrated. The pink and blue represent same-sex attraction, while the orange and green represent the non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals. The black and white stripes stand for the asexual, aromantic, and agender community.

The Transgender Flag

According to Pride, this flag was created by transgender woman Monica Helms in 1999.

"The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it will always be correct. This symbolizes us trying to find correctness in our own lives." -Marcia Helms

Blue represents boys, pink represents girls and white represents people who are transitioning, have no gender or are gender neutral.

"Progress" Pride Flag

This flag was created in 2018 by Daniel Quasar in response to Philly's updated pride flag. It combines the colors and stripes from Philly's version of the pride flag and the colors of the transgender pride flag.

“We still have movement forward to make. There still is work to be done. I wanted to highlight that.” - Daniel Quasar

Non-binary Flag

In 2014, Kye Rowan created the Non-binary Pride Flag to represent people whose gender identity does not fit within the traditional male/female binary. The colors each symbolize a different subgroup of people who identify as non-binary. Yellow represents genders outside of the gender binary. White represents people who identify with many or all genders. Purple represents genders that are a combination of male and female and black represents people who identify as not having a gender.

Bisexual Flag

Bisexuality can be defined in a few different ways depending on who you ask. For many, it's seen as an attraction to both men and women. Others use it to describe attraction to more than one gender, but not all genders. Some even describe it as an attraction to the gender you identify as and at least one other gender According to Pride, this flag was created by activist Michael Page. He wanted to create a symbol for bisexual people to feel connected to. Each of the colors symbolizes some kind of attraction. Pink (or magenta) symbolizes same-sex attraction. Royal blue denotes opposite-sex attraction and purple (lavender) denotes attraction to both sexes.

Pansexual Flag

The Pansexual Flag was created in 2010. It's unclear who actually created this flag, but this flag has been in wide use since the early 2010s when it was posted on an anonymous Tumblr account by its creator, a semi-anonymous graphic artist, Jasper V. The flag functions as a symbol of the pansexual community, like the rainbow flag is used as a symbol for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and anyone else in the LGBT community. The pansexual pride flag is used to indicate that pansexuals have sexual attractions and relationships with people of different genders and sexualities.The theory of pansexuality aims to challenge existing prejudices, which can cause judgment, ostracism, and serious disorders within society.

The Lesbian Flag

The Lesbian Flag is one of the flags fewer people know about. This flag features different shades of pink and sometimes comes with a red kiss on it to represent feminine lesbians. It was created by Natalie McCray and the different shades of red and pink are said to represent different shades of lipstick. Since 1999, many designs have been proposed and used. Although personal preferences exist, as well as various controversies, no design has been widely accepted by the community as the lesbian flag.

Asexual Flag

Like the pansexual flag, the asexual flag was created in 2010. Inspired by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network logo, it represents many ace identities, including graysexuals (the fluid area between sexuals and asexuals) and demisexuals (people who don't experience sexual attraction unless they have an emotional connection with their partners.)

The Trans Inclusive Gay Men’s Pride Flag

This is another lesser known pride flag. It features different shades of green, blue, and purple. This modern gay men’s pride flag is a revamp of an earlier gay men’s pride flag that featured a range of blue tones. That version was problematic because it used colors that were stereotypical of the gender binary. This updated flag is inclusive of a much wide range of gay men, including but not limited to transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming men.

Polyamory Flag

Featuring the symbol for the infinite number pi, which shares the first letter of "polyamory," this flag celebrates the infinite selection of partners available to polyamorous people. The letter is gold to represent the emotional attachment we have with others as friends and romantic partners, rather than just our carnal relationships.

The Heterosexual Pride Flag (AKA the Vanilla Flag)

The term "straight" is used to describe both straight men and straight women, and is most viewed as men attracted to women and women attracted to men. While "straight" is often used to describe non-LGBT people, it is possible for straight people to be part of the LGBT community. For example, they might be transgender. They might also be asexual heteroromantic or aromantic heterosexual, which also makes them LGBT. Several variations of this flag exist. One uses white, grey and black colors, also mimicking the rainbow flag and originating in the early 2000s. Another variation with the male and female gender symbols imposed over its field also exists.

This flag and its variations, was not without controversy. Attempts to usurp the power of the LGBTQIA+ Pride Flags were not met with a great deal of support, and indeed actually stimulated a great deal pushback. In 2015, the Russian political party United Russia, of which the then President of Russia Vladimir Putin was then part, introduced a straight pride flag. It was created as a response to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States earlier on the same year. In 2019, the American organization Super Happy Fun America led a straight pride parade in Boston, in the United States, in August of the same year. Described as "a response to the 'identity politics' of the left", the event attracted several hundred participants and thousands of counter-protesters, who vastly outnumbered participants of the parade.

Straight Ally Flag

The combination of the black and white stripes and the rainbow represent the allies' support of the LGBTQ+ community. It originated in the late 2000s, but its exact origin is unknown. A variation of the alternating black-and-white striped flag is known as the straight ally flag, and represents heterosexual people who support the LGBT community. It combines the black and white straight flag with the rainbow LGBT flag. The rainbow portion of the flag sometimes takes the form of an "A", representing the word "allies".

Learning is key to growing your mind and seeing other perspectives, and that can lead to diversity. But first, you need to have diversity in your learning because no one person, identity, or philosophy is perfect or best.

One key takeaway from Pride Month this year, and indeed every year. is to learn from the history of our symbolisms that challenge our perspectives and assumptions and create a more inclusive society where everyone is able to participate and grow within a diverse community.

Do during the month of June this year, in the face of all the fear and fear mongering that is our current political climate, be who you are and fly your flag with PRIDE!

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