Fly Your Flag | History

Photo via Adobe Stock.

For hundreds of years, members of the LGBT community have found ways to signal each other that we were members of “the family.” 

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a green carnation and a red tie or neck scarf sent a signal to others. As “the love that dare not speak its name” began to speak up after Stonewall, we used symbols as rallying points. Early protest signs and posters used the astrological symbols for Mars (a circle with an arrow pointing off to the upper right) and Venus (a circle with a descending cross) as signs for men and women. The double figures of each of the signs were used to indicate gay and lesbian, respectively.

The Lambda insignia was also used by early gay rights organizations as a sign of gay pride. In 1970, New York City's Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) chose the lower-case lambda. The GAA explained that since the lambda stood for "a complete exchange of energy" in chemistry and physics, it was an apt symbol of the potential for change. In the ‘80s a pink triangle was adopted by ACT-UP. It is an example of a symbol of oppression reclaimed as a symbol of pride. During the Nazi regime, those arrested for homosexual offenses under Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code were forced to wear a pink triangle. ACT-UP and other activists in the LGBT community inverted the triangle with the caption “Silence Equals Death.”

Rainbow Pride

The rainbow flag is perhaps the best-known of the symbols representing the LGBT community. It was created in 1977 by Gilbert Baker, an artist, activist, and openly gay military veteran. Asked by Harvey Milk to create a flag for the community, Baker created two rainbow flags with eight distinct colors. The colors of the original flags were hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit. The two flags were flown in the 1978 San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade.

After the appearance of the rainbow flags in the parade, there was a public demand for them, and they went into commercial production but in a modified form. Since hot pink, turquoise, and indigo material was costly and difficult to obtain, the first two colors were eliminated and the third changed to blue. This six-striped Pride flag is one of the most well-known and used LGBT flags throughout history

Since the debut and adoption of the Pride Flag by the community, variations have been suggested and adopted to accommodate and recognize the various letters in the LGBTQI+ community. Now there are dozens of variations of the Pride Flag. Everyone has their personal relation to their pride flag. It can be a symbol of belonging, a way to come out, or a way to show support for the community.

Transgender Pride

The Transgender Flag was first created in 1999 by Monica Helms, a transgender woman. Light blue and pink are featured because they’re the traditional colors associated with baby boys and girls, respectively. The white stands for those who are intersex, transitioning, or those who don´t feel identified with any gender. It was first shown at a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2000. It was flown from a large public flagpole in San Francisco's Castro District in 2012 in commemoration of the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Bisexual Pride

The Bisexual Pride Flag was created in 1998 by Michael Page. His idea for the flag represents pink and blue blending to make purple. The way that bisexual people can blend into the straight community and the gay community. The colors of the flag also represent attraction to different genders. The pink symbolizes attraction to the same gender, while the blue represents attraction to a different gender. The purple represents attraction to two or more genders, the definition of bisexuality.

Asexual Pride

The Flag for the asexual community was created in 2010 by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network. Asexual can be an umbrella term and each color in this flag also represents something unique. Black stands for asexuality. Gray represents demisexuality, for those who develop a sexual attraction to someone only after forming a deep emotional bond with them. White stands for the allies of the community. Purple represents the entire community of asexual folks.

Bear Pride

The International Bear Brotherhood Flag was designed in 1995 by Craig Byrnes. Bear clubs often serve as social and sexual networks for older, hairier, sometimes heavier gay and bisexual men. The colors on the stripes represent the colors of bear species.                                                               

Intersex Pride

In 2013, Morgan Carpenter chose the colors yellow and purple for the intersex flag. Morgan moved away from the rainbow symbolism and selected these colors because neither is associated with the social constructs of the gender binary. The circle represents the wholeness of intersex people. It is a reminder that intersex people are perfect the way they are or choose to be.

Nonbinary Pride

In 2014, Kye Rowan created the Nonbinary Pride Flag to represent people whose gender identity does not fit within the traditional male/female binary. The colors of the nonbinary flag are yellow, white, purple, and black. Yellow signifies something on its own or people who identify outside of the cisgender binary of male or female. White, a color that consists of all colors mixed, stands for multi-gendered people. Purple, like the lavender color in the genderqueer flag, represents people who identify as a blending of male and female genders. Finally, black (the absence of color) signifies those who are agender, who feel they do not have a gender.

More Color More Pride

A new Pride flag was launched in 2017 as part of a small Philly-based PR agency’s campaign. It added a brown and black stripe to the flag symbolizing people of color, who historically were not always included in aspects of the mainstream gay rights movement, and a response to the demand for more inclusivity across the LGBTQ+ community. Lena Waithe wore the Philadelphia Pride Flag as a cape at the 2018 Met Gala and elevated its visibility.

Progressive Pride

In June 2018 designer Daniel Quasar released a redesign incorporating elements from both the Philadelphia flag and the trans pride flag to bring focus on inclusion and progress within the community. The flag design immediately went viral as the Progress Pride Flag on social media. It includes stripes to represent the experiences of people of color, as well as stripes to represent people who identify as transgender, gender nonconforming (GNC), and/or undefined. The arrow points to the right to show forward movement while being along the left edge shows that progress still needs to be made. The Progress Pride Flag integrates the evolving nature of the LGBTQ+ community and many of these flags into one.

Rick Karlin is OutSFL's food editor. Have a culinary tip to share? Email Rick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



Got a juicy lead or story idea? Let us know!



Out South Florida

Hello from OutSFL! We hope you'll consider donating to us. Starting a business can be a scary prospect, but with your support so far, we've had tremendous success. Thank you!

donate button