The pride flag. Instantly recognisable, gloriously uplifting, vibrant, colourful and a testament to the resilience and diversity of the LGBTQ community the world over
LGBTQ is a term used to describe the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer-Questioning communities.
Lesbian: A woman who is romantically/emotionally/physically attracted to another woman. Some women prefer the term “gay” or “gay woman”
Gay: Someone, of either gender, who is romantically/emotionally/physically attracted to someone of the same gender.
Bisexual: Someone who has is romantically/emotionally/physically attracted to someone of either gender. This might be experienced in different ways, to different degrees.
Transgender: This term encompasses anyone who finds that their gender identity is different to the sex they were assigened at birth. People who are transgender might use different terms to self identify, some might use hormones or undergo surgery to outwardly show how they feel inside. For some people this is a path they don’t want to take, feel they don’t need to take or can’t take. It is important to note that the transgender identity is not dependant on physical appearance.
Queer: This term is used mostly by the younger members of the community. It is used by people who do not identity as heterosexual, or strictly heterosexual, nor do they find the terms such as gay or bisexual aptly describes their orientation either. Genderqueer is also used to describe gender identity.
Questioning: Q can also stand for questioning. This is for people who are questioning their orientation and/or gender identity.
The LGBTQ community is a vast and diverse community that come together in June to celebrate Pride and highlight their place in the world and one of the most recognised symbols throughout Pride is the Rainbow Flag.
So let us answer a few questions to do with Pride and the Flag.
What is Pride?
Pride is the promotion of people and the LGBTQ community as a whole in a positive and inclusive manner. It is widely believed to be called Pride as in direct opposition to the shame and social stigma that members of the LGBTQ communities have had to endure.
Why does Pride take place in June?
It commemorates the Stonewall Riots which took place toward the end of June 1969. The riots were the response by the LGBTQ community after the police raided the Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, one of the few gay friendly bars in a time when anti gay laws were still being used. It is widely recognised as one of the pivotal moments that led to the beginning of the gay rights movement in the USA.
In other countries Pride might take place during the anniversary of turning points in their own LGBTQ history.
I have seen the Rainbow Flag, but do the colours stand for anything?
They do indeed!
Originally designed by artist Gilbert Baker, it debuted in 1978, after renowned gay rights activist Harvey Milk asked Baker to create a symbol for pride for the gay community.
It originally had eight colours, each representing something unique.
Hot Pink = Sex, Red = Life, Orange= Healing, Yellow = Sunlight,
Turquoise = Magic/Art, Indigo = Serenity, Violet= Spirit
I thought the flag only had six colours.
The flag has undergone a few revisions since it was first created. The hot pink was taken out due to the unavailability of the material, the turquoise was removed after they wanted to split the flag in two when displaying it on two sides of the street during Pride.
Colours and symbols have also been added in some incarnations of the flag, such as a pink triangle in the upper left corner or an additional black stripe to commemorate all those who passed away due to AIDS.
Who does the flag represent?
While the rainbow flag represents all members of the LGBTQ community, flags for individual communities also exist. The A-Sexuality flag consists of black, grey, white and purple stripes while the Bi-Sexuality pride flag has magenta representing attraction to the same gender, blue to represent attraction to the opposite gender and a thin lavender line between the two representing the overlap are just some examples.
Why are these flags so important?
These flags represent people within our countries that were (and in some places still are) marginalized,oppressed and shunned for how they love and self identify.
Yet their flags fly high showing that these diverse, inclusive and important communities have both thrived and survived and shall continue to do so.