As our LGBTQ+ movement has become more inclusive and aware of itself, various segments have created their own flags to fly alongside the Pride flag. Below are additional flags you may or may not know.
Pink Triangle Flag
This brightly colored symbol is now often worn proudly, but it was born from a dark period in LGBTQ history and world history.
Just as the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a yellow Star of David, they forced people they labeled as gay to wear inverted pink triangles (or ‘die Rosa-Winkel’). Those thus branded were treated as “the lowest of the low in the camp hierarchy,” as one scholar put it. It’s thought that somewhere between 5,000 and 15,000 men were sent to concentration camps for reasons related to sexuality, but exactly how many died in them may never be known. Flying the pink triangle is a reminder of the past and a pledge that history will not repeat itself. This symbol was widely replaced by the creation of the rainbow pride flag.
In 1987, Avram Finkelstein, Brian Howard, Oliver Johnston, Charles Kreloff, Chris Lione, and Jorge Socarrás founded the SILENCE=DEATH Project to support one another in the midst of the AIDS crisis. Inspired by the posters of the Art Workers Coalition and the Guerrilla Girls (both of whose work is on view nearby), they mobilized to spread the word about the epidemic and created the now-iconic Silence=Death poster featuring the pink triangle as a reference to Nazi persecution of LGBTQ people in the 1930s and 1940s. It became the central visual symbol of AIDS activism after it was adopted by the direct action advocacy group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP).
HIV and AIDS remain a global health issue, with nearly 40 million people living with HIV at the end of 2017. Communities of color continue to face disproportionate effects of the disease as well as barriers to treatment. Today, ACT UP remains dedicated to their original 1987 slogan:
ACT UP! FIGHT BACK! FIGHT AIDS!
1978. The Original 8 Color Pride Flag
The original rainbow flag was conceived with 8 stripes. Gilbert Baker assigned specific meaning to each of the colors as seen in the diagram on this page.
But the Rainbow Flag that has been used predominantly through history since has only 6 colors. This modification had nothing to do with the flag’s meaning, but came about out of necessity due to fabric supply and logistics.
The colors have the following meanings:
“A Rainbow Flag was a conscious choice, natural and necessary,” Gilbert said. “The rainbow came from earliest recorded history as a symbol of hope.”
1978. The Origin Of The 7 Color Pride Flag
After the assassination of gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978, demand for the rainbow flag greatly increased. Unfortunately, hot-pink fabric became increasingly unavailable. To meet the demand, the Paramount Flag Company, of which Gilbert Baker was an employee, began selling a version of the flag using stock rainbow fabric with seven stripes. The flags flew off the shelves of its retail store on the southwest corner of Polk and Post.
1979. The Origin Of The 6 Color Pride Flag
By 1979, circumstances made it necessary to modify the flag again. When hung vertically from the lamp posts of San Francisco’s Market Street, the center stripe was obscured by the post itself. Changing the flag design to one with an even number of stripes was the easiest way to rectify this, so the turquoise stripe was dropped, which resulted in much celebrated six stripe version of the flag — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet
The colors have the following meanings:
Philly Pride Flag
Philadelphia’s People of Color Inclusive Flag
This flag was created in 2017 to give representation to black and brown people in the LGBTQ+ community and the unique challenges they face. A source told Philadelphia Magazine, “With all of the black and brown activism that’s worked to address racism in the Gayborhood over the past year, I think the new flag is a great step for the city to show the world that they’re working toward fully supporting all members of our community.”
Actress and director Lena Waithe turned heads when she wore a cape featuring these colors to the 2018 Met Gala.
Progress Pride Flag
In 2018, the Pride flag saw another variation in its design known as the Progress Pride Flag, created by Daniel Quasar to be more inclusive. Overlaying the traditional six-striped rainbow flag is a chevron design that has the black and brown stripes from the Philly Pride flag, as well as white, pink, and blue from the Trans Pride flag.
“Intersex Progress” Pride Flag
In 2021, Valentino Vecchietti of Intersex Equality Rights UK developed the Intersex Pride Progress flag design to incorporate the intersex flag. Taking inspiration from Daniel Quasar’s trans-inclusive 2018 redesign and the Philadelphia Office of LGBT affairs’ flag iteration which included Black and Brown stripes to represent queer people of color, the newly designed Pride flag is one that acknowledges the important history of Pride flags. Vecchietti said, “My intention in creating this iteration of the flag with visible intersex inclusion is to create some much-needed intersex joy. We also hope that it will increase allyship from the LGBTQA community,”
Queer People of Color (QPOC) Pride Flag
Though it may have been used before, 2020 saw the display of the QPOC Pride Flag rise in popularity in the broader queer community as a sign of solidarity with Black Lives Matter demonstrations seen across the country and world. The flag represents queer people of color (QPOC) and how the black community and the queer community are often woven together, both currently and in the earliest days of the Queer Liberation Movement (see Marsha P. Johnson, the black drag queen thought to have thrown the first brick at the Stonewall Inn Riots). Historically, the raised fist has served as an emblem of solidarity and support as well as an expression of unity, strength, defiance, and resistance. The raised fist was added to the six-striped flag and includes various shades of brown and a white stripe to represent the various colors of the “human rainbow.” The flag’s use has mostly been in the digital sphere, but it was flown at the 2019 San Francisco Pride. TriPride has not discovered the original creator.
Transgender Pride Flag
The Transgender Pride Flag was created by American trans woman Monica Helms in 1999, and was first shown at a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona, United States in 2000. According to its creator, “The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.”
Bisexual Pride Flag
The bisexual pride flag was designed by Michael Page in 1998 in order to give the bisexual community its own symbol comparable to the gay pride flag of the larger LGBT community. His aim was to increase the visibility of bisexuals, both among society as a whole and within the LGBT community.
Pink (or magenta): Same-sex attraction
(Royal) blue: Opposite-sex attraction
Purple (lavender): Attraction to both sexes.
Lesbian Pride Flag
The Lesbian Pride Flag, featuring seven different shades of pink, orange, white and red, is flown as the official lesbian flag. In some cases an older variant is flown, which features more red and pink in the stripes instead of orange. Sometimes, this red / pink variant features the addition of a lipstick mark in one corner and is flown to celebrate the subculture of Lipstick Lesbian, members of which stick to a ‘feminine’ image rather than taking a ‘butch’ one. This design became popular around 2018 and is one of several other designs.
Polysexual Pride Flag
The colors and design of the polysexual flag are based on the pansexual and bisexual pride flags, borrowing the pink and blue, and replacing the yellow and purple stripes with a green one. Polysexuality is a self-identifying term that is somewhat amorphous, as there is a wide variety of different people who use the term to describe themselves. Polysexual identity is related to gender identity and is used by some people who identify outside the binarist gender spectrum. People who refer to themselves as polysexual may be attracted to third gender people, two-spirit people, genderqueer people, or people who are intersex. However, polysexuality does not have to be the exclusive attraction towards non-binary genders or sexes, though it can be. People who identify as polysexual may still be attracted to one or both binary genders or sexes.
Asexual Pride Flag
The asexual pride flag consists of four horizontal stripes: black, grey, white, and purple from top to bottom. The black stripe represents asexuality, the grey stripe representing the grey-area between sexual and asexual, the white stripe sexuality, and the purple stripe community.
Demisexual Pride Flag
Similar but different to the asexual pride flag, the demisexual pride flag was created to specifically represent those with “a sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond,” according to The Demisexuality Resource Center.
Pansexual Pride Flag
The pansexual pride flag was designed as a symbol for the pansexual community to use. The pansexual pride flag has been found on various internet sites since mid-2010. It is used to indicate that pansexuals have romantic attractions and relationships with people of different genders and sexualities.
Genderqueer Pride Flag
The Genderqueer flag was designed by Marilyn Roxie with input from the readers of Genderqueer Identities in June 2011. Lavender represents androgyny or simply queerness, white represents agender identity, and green represents those whose identities which are defined outside the binary.
Nonbinary Pride Flag
Kye Rowan designed the nonbinary flag in 2014. This flag was intended to go alongside Marilyn Roxie’s genderqueer flag rather than replace it. The flag consists of four stripes. Yellow represents those whose gender exists outside of and without reference to the binary, as yellow is often used to distinguish something as its own. White represents those who have many or all genders, as white is the photological presence of color and/or light. The purple stripe represents those who feel their gender is between or a mix of female and male, as purple is the mix of traditional boy and girl colors. The purple could also be seen as representing the fluidity and uniqueness of nonbinary people. The final black stripe represents those who feel they are without gender, as black is the photological absence of color and/or light.” The nonbinary flag and the genderqueer flag are both options for nonbinary people to use to symbolize themselves and take different approaches to how to symbolize nonbinary genders.
Bear Pride Flag
International Bear Brotherhood Flag
The International Bear Brotherhood Flag was designed to represent the bear subculture within the LGBT community. Craig Byrnes created the Bear pride flag in 1995. The colors of the flag are meant to include the colors of the furs of animal bears throughout the world, not necessarily referring to human skin and hair color tones: Dark brown, orange/rust, golden yellow, tan, white, gray, and black. The flag was designed with inclusion in mind. The gay bear culture celebrates secondary sex characteristics such as growth of body hair and facial hair, which is typically considered a “bear” trait.
Straight Ally Pride Flag
Straight allies are heterosexual and/or cisgender people who support equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBTQA+ social movements, and challenges homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and any discrimination against the LGBTQA+ community. The black and white stripes are thought to symbolize the yin and yang of female and male, while the dominant rainbow chevron represents the letter “A” for ally. The Straight Ally Pride Flag was created sometime in the late 2000’s, though the specific creator or date is unknown.