The Gay Pride Rainbow
Ah, the rainbow flag. Such a beautiful and bold statement, hard to ignore or mistake for anything else.
The original Gay Pride Flag was first flown in the 1978 San Francisco Pride Parade, and unlike its modern day 6-color version it was a full rainbow – it included hot pink, turquoise, and indigo instead of dark blue. Each of the stripes had a particular meaning associated with it, but mostly I think they just wanted a purty rainbow.
The pink stripe was removed relatively quickly due to fabric unavailability. The turquoise was taken out a year later when the 7-striped flag was hung vertically from lamp posts on SF’s Market Street, but the middle stripe was obscured by the post so they yanked turquoise to make it an even number of stripes. This was also when blue replaced indigo, which I assume was done to balance out the removal of the turquoise.
The bisexual pride flag was introduced in 1998 by Michael Page as an effort to give bisexual people their own rallying symbol similar to the gay rainbow flag. (source) The colors are an evolution of the “Biangle” symbol, itself a play on the original pink triangle used to represent homosexuality. (source)
Pansexuality is an interesting new categorization of sexual attraction. It’s defined as being attracted to people regardless of their gender or sex, which, unlike the strict definition of “bi”-sexual, includes those who fall outside the traditional gender binary. The pink represents being attracted to women, the blue being attracted to men, and the yellow for being attracted to everyone else. (source)
Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction or a low interest in sexual activity. The asexual community is relatively new and not widely known, quite possibly because a lack of sexual interest causes much less public outcry than an “inappropriate” sexual interest.
The flag was created in 2010 through a process spear-headed by the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). The creation and selection was extremely democratic and took place entirely online. First they asked for submissions, then posted all the designs in a poll. The community went through several rounds of voting, and finally narrowed it down to the winner that you see above.
“Intersex” is a term for people who are born with mixed primary or secondary sex characteristics, making them both female and male. This condition shows up in approximately 1% of the population, though many recognized forms of it are subtle enough to go undetected for an entire lifetime. (source)
Update 6/27/15: This flag was debuted by OII Australia in July of 2013 as a rallying point for Intersex people, “one attempt to create something that is not derivative, but yet is firmly grounded in meaning.” The colors yellow and purple were chosen because they’re seen as fairly gender neutral – neither pink nor blue. The circle symbolizes wholeness or completeness. (source)
My original post listed the below striped flag as Intersex Pride. This flag was somewhat controversial in the Intersex community, the main complaints being that it’s too close to the Transgender Pride flag and that it had also been intended to represent “Bigender” peoples. Intersex is distinctly different from Transgender or Bigender, so OII created their distinctly different flag. The debate continues, however. (source)
This flag, designed by Natalie Phox in 2009, blends the two stereotypical gender-binary baby colors, pink and blue, in lavender stripes on the side and a gradient in the middle. (source)
The transgender pride flag was created by Monica Helms, a transgender woman, in 1999. The two colored stripes represent the traditional colors for baby boys and girls, and the white is for those of intersex, neutral, or other genders.
The flag is intentionally symmetric so that however you hang it, it is in the ‘correct’ orientation. Helms says this was to represent transgender people finding “correctness” in their lives. (source)
The Genderqueer Pride flag was created by Marilyn Roxie in 2010 with help from the Genderqueer internet community. The lavender is a mix of the traditional blue and pink gender colors for people who are a little of both, the green is meant to be the “inverse” of lavender for those outside the binary, and the white represents gender neutrality. (source)
“Genderqueer” is a term I have become increasingly fond of lately. It’s an extremely inclusive “catch-all” for anyone who doesn’t feel like they fit into one of the two standard gender definitions. Unlike most other pride flags, which represent groups of people who ‘are’ something (people who are gay, transgender, asexual, etc.), genderqueer is for people who are not either of the traditional 2 genders. It’s a group for people who feel like they don’t fit into the normal definition, and I think that’s pretty awesome.