Gay History: The Complete Guide to Every Queer Pride Flag

Whether you’re celebrating Pride in New York or Tel Aviv, you’ll be seeing all sorts of flags — and not just those in the traditional rainbow. There are many sexualities in on the queer spectrum, and we’ve identified the flags for each. Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments.

Gilbert Baker Pride Flag

In 1977, Harvey Milk challenged Gilbert Baker, a veteran who taught himself to sew, to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community. His response? The original Pride flag. Inspired by Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow,” these colors flew at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration on June 25, 1978. Though some dispute whether Baker was the sole creator of the flag that started it all, its symbolism remains. Each color celebrates an aspect of queer Pride:

Hot pink =  Sex

Red = Life

Orange = Healing

Yellow = Sunlight

Green = Nature

Turquoise = Magic/Art

Indigo = Serenity

Violet = Spirit

1978-1999 Pride Flag

After the assassination of Harvey Milk, 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.

Traditional Gay Pride Flag

This is the most familiar flag. In 1979, the community landed on this six-color version, which was hung from lampposts in San Francisco. Numerous complications over having an odd-number of colors led to turquoise being dropped, at least according to reports. Read more about the modern flag here.

Philadelphia People Of Color Inclusive Flag

Noting that queer people of color are often not fully included in the LGBT community, the city of Philadelphia added two colors — black and brown — to the Pride flag in their honor. The city 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.

Progress Pride Flag

This new flag seeks to take Philadelphia’s inclusive approach a step further. Daniel Quasar, who identifies as queer and nonbinary, designed this flag. The white, pink, and light blue reflect the colors of the transgender flag, while the brown and black stripes represent people of color and those lost to AIDS. “When the Pride flag was recreated in the last year to include both black/brown stripes as well as the trans stripes included this year, I wanted to see if there could be more emphasis in the design of the flag to give it more meaning,” Quasar explained on his Kickstarter.

Bisexual Flag

Designed by Michael Page, the flag brings visibility to the bisexual community, showing the overlap of the stereotypical colors for boys and girls. The flag was inspired by an older symbol of bisexuality: the “biangles,” two overlapping pink and dark blue triangles.

Pansexual Pride

Created on the web in 2010, this flag has colors that represent pansexuality’s interest in all genders as partners. The pink represents women, yellow nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people, and the blue is for men.

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.

Labrys Lesbian Pride Flag

Oddly enough, this sapphic symbol was created by a man. Created in 1999 by gay graphic designer Sean Campbell, the flag has not gained much traction in the lesbian community. It features a labrys, an ax-like weapon used by Grecian amazons.

Polyamory Flag

Featuring the symbol for the infinite numberpi, 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 partnerss, rather than just our carnal relationships.

Intersex Flag

Designed in 2013 by the organization Intersex International Australia, this flag intentionally features nongendered colors that celebrate living outside the binary.

Transgender Flag

Monica Helms, a trans woman, designed this flag in 1999, and it was first flown at a Pride Parade in Phoenix a year later. “The light blue is the traditional color for baby boys, pink is for girls, and the white in the middle is for those who are transitioning, those who feel they have a neutral gender or no gender, and those who are intersexed,” Helms noted. “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.”

Genderfluid/Genderflexible Flag

Encompassing the fluctuations and the flexibility of gender in genderfluid people, the flag features colors associated with femininity, masculinity, and everything in between. The pink stands for femininity. The white represents the lack of gender. The purple represents the combination of masculinity and femininity. The black symbolizes all genders, including third genders. The blue reflects masculinity.

Genderqueer Flag

Created in 2011 by Marilyn Roxie, the genderqueer flag highlights androgyny with lavender, agender identities with white, and nonbinary people with green. Some people refer to it as a nonbinary flag if they feel queer is a slur.

Lipstick Lesbian Flag

If you want the most feminine pride flag, here it is. Although it’s not a widely used symbol, it celebrates the femmes in the lesbian community, lovingly called “lipstick lesbians.”

Leather, Latex, & BDSM Flag

Whether the kink community should be added in the acronym LGBT is a heated debate, but there is no denying that the community has several of its own flags. This one was designed by Tony DeBlase for Chicago’s International Mr. Leather celebration in 1989. This symbol is not exclusively gay, but rather for the leather and BDSM community. The original flag is on display at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago.

Bear Brotherhood Flag

Though The New York Times named 2018 “the age of the twink,” only the bears — as gay men lovingly refer to the beefier, more hirsute guys — have their own flag. Craig Byrnes designed it in 1995 for the International Bear Brotherhood. Its colors are to match the fur of bears living in the woods.

Rubber Pride Flag

This symbol is for members of the rubber and latex fetish community and is similar to its predecessor, the leather Pride flag. Peter Tolos and Scott Moats created the design in 1995 “as a means to identifying like-minded men and [it] reflects the sensory, sensual, and mental passion we have for rubber.” They say the black color represents “our lust for the look and feel for shiny black rubber,” the red symbolizes “our blood passion for rubber and rubbermen,” while yellow highlights “our drive for intense rubber play and fantasies.” It also features a literal kink, for obvious reasons.

Polysexual Flag

Polysexuality, unlike pansexuality, is the attraction to multiple genders but not all. A middle ground between bisexuality and pansexuality, it is centered more around attractions to femininity and masculinity rather than gender itself. The pink represents attraction to females; the blue for males. The green is for an attraction to those who don’t conform to either gender.

Agender Flag

While genderqueer people bend the rules of gender, agender people reject a gender completely. For their flag, the black and white stripes represent the absence of gender, while green, the inverse of the gender-heavy purple, represents nonbinary genders.

Aromantic Flag

While asexual flags use purple to show their lack of sexual attraction, aromantic flags use green to celebrate the people who live without romantic attraction.

Non Binary Flag

Created by 17-year-old Kye Rowan in 2014, this flag was a response to nonbinary people feeling improperly represented by the genderqueer flag. This symbol was not to replace Roxie’s creation but sit beside it as an option. The yellow symbolizes gender outside a binary. The white, a mix of all colors, represents those with many or all genders. Purple stands in for those who feel both binary male and female or fluid between them. The black is for the agender community, without sexuality or color.

Pony Flag

Pony play is a distinct fetish where people are treated like horses by wearing hooves, ears, and  saddles and pulling carts. Carrie P created this flag in 2007; it uses black in solidarity with the leather community at large.

Straight Ally Flag

The flag equivalent of “I support LGBT people, but no homo,” this makes everyone feel included at Pride marches, even if they’re celebrating other people’s sexualities.

Reference

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