Experts Explain the Meaning and History Behind Every LGBTQ+ Flag
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but the traditional gay pride flag you probably see everywhere is just one of many that already exist in the LGBTQ+ world. And while this rainbow flag might be the most universally recognizable one, there are so many other individualized flags that represent people on every part of the gender and sexuality spectrum.
Think about it this way: If the rainbow flag can be compared to the United States flag, then in the same way we have individual state flags for Kansas, New York, Texas, etc., you can also can have individual gender identity/sexual orientation flags for people who are transgender, bisexual, asexual, etc.
In other words: “It’s a coalition of different identities across axes of identity, orientation, expression, sexual desire, and romantic desire,” says Hannah Simpson, a LGBTQ+ writer, speaker, and activist.
And these flags go even deeper because they create a space for someone to celebrate exactly who they are. (And honestly, we love to see it.)
So to help familiarize yourself, we’ve compiled a list of all the LGBTQ+ flags with the meanings and history behind them. Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally, we promise this will be a learning course actually worth taking.
The Gilbert Baker Pride Flag
The meaning: According to Robert Deam Tobin, PhD, who teaches courses in gay and lesbian studies and queer theory at Clark University, the gay pride flag “was and is a cheerful, upbeat, optimistic, and instantly identifiable symbol of the LGBTQ+ community-and has caught on throughout the world, in big cities and little ones.” He also notes: “The colors were chosen from the rainbow, a symbol of hope ever since Noah’s flood.”
The history: “Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag in San Francisco in 1978, as the gay community was flourishing and beginning to fight for its rights,” explains Tobin, noting that the Stonewall Riots took place in 1969 and the first gay pride parade took place in 1970.
And fun fact: Tobin says the flag was originally supposed to have eight colors instead of the six we see today, but Gilbert wound up having to axe both turquoise and pink to hookupdate.net/by-ethnicity make the design simple enough for mass production.
The Updated Philadelphia Pride Flag
The meaning: This flag, Tobin says, was created recently as a response “to new developments in the LGBTQ+ community, particularly to be inclusive in terms of race and trans issues.”
The history: The updated flag was developed by Daniel Quasar in 2018. “In 2017, the so-called ‘Philadelphia flag’ had incorporated a black and a brown stripe on top of the six colors of the rainbow flag,” Tobin explains. “Quasar’s version moved the black and the brown to the side as part of a triangle that also included the colors of the trans flag intersecting with the now-traditional rainbow flag.”
The Demisexual Pride Flag
The meaning: Demisexual is a sexual orientation that is used to describe people who “need to feel a strong emotional connection with someone in order to feel any sexual attraction to them,” according to a previous Cosmopolitan article.
And for this flag specifically, you can notice the colors to understand the meaning. “Anytime you see purples, greens, and yellows in flags, these are colors that are not linked to gendered norms, so you know the flag is highlighting people who reject these binaries,” says Simpson. So while demisexual is not a gender identity, you can still assume the purple line is used as an example of “rejecting” traditional attraction.