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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Learn more here.
The Bi Pride flag was recently at the center of controversy when BiNet USA claimed copyright over the design and tried to stop people from using it unless they paid for a licensing agreement. The resulting backlash from the bisexual community forced the organization to change its leadership.
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. More info here.
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.) Learn more here.
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. More info here.
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. Find out more here.
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.”
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.
A new lesbian flag with seven horizontal stripes was introduced on social media in 2018, with the dark orange stripe representing gender non-conformity, the orange stripe representing independence, the light orange stripe representing community, the white stripe representing unique relationships to womanhood, the pink stripe representing serenity and peace, the dusty pink stripe representing love and sex, and the dark rose stripe representing femininity.
A narrative has emerged that this flag is more inclusive of butch and trans lesbians, though debate on that issue continues to this day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Created in 2016 by Tumblr user dorian-rutherford, the flag is meant to represent lesbians who don’t identify with the lipstick lesbian flag, according to the University of Northern Colorado. While the colors symbolism remains unknown, people believe the blue represents masculinity, the white represents people across the gender spectrum, and the purple represents lesbians and those who identify as women.
The two feathers represent both masculine and feminine identities, while the circle represents the combination of the masculine and feminine into a single identity. Before Europeans colonized indigenous lands in North America and enforced a gender binary, many Native American tribes recognized a third gender which is today called two spirit.
The twink flag features a pink top and yellow bottom and two Mars signs intertwine representing gay men. The origin of the flag is unknown, much like the origin of the word “twink.” The term refers to slim, young, handsome, hairless men. It may come from the British slang “twank,” which referred to a client of a gay sex worker, according to The New York Times. Others say it’s from the Hostess snack, the Twinkie.
The demigirl flag is a symbol for those who identify as either demigender or as a demigirl. Demigirls are those who identify partially as women. The flag was created by Tumblr user Transrants in 2015.
The demiboy flag is a symbol for those who identify as either demigender or as a demiboy. Demiboys are those who identify partially as men. The flag was created by Tumblr user Transrants in 2015.
The neutrois flag represents those who identify as gender neutral. While some may use neutrois and agender interchangeably, others say a distinction lies in neutrois-identifying people still have some sense of gender identification. The white stripe represents neutrality, the green represents something outside pink and blue, and the black stripe represents genderlessness.