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Medically Reviewed by:

Dr Danae Maragouthakis

The many parades and marches during LGBTQ+ Pride Month aim to celebrate the LGBT community and equal rights. The pride flag is a key part of the LGBTQ+ celebration.

This Pride month, we’d like to cover what the pride flag represents, what the pride flag LGBTQ+ colours mean, and the different versions of the pride flag.

History of the Pride Flag: When Was It First Used?

Ever since we could remember, the rainbow flag has represented a symbol for the LGBTQ+ rights movement. But the question is, how did the rainbow flag come to represent LGBTQ+ pride?

It all started with an openly gay man and drag queen named Gilbert Baker. Inspired by Harvey Milk, one of the United State’s first openly gay elected officials, Baker created a symbol of pride for the gay community — the pride flag, or what some call the rainbow flag.

The first versions of the rainbow flag could be seen at the 1978 San Francisco gay pride parade. The colours within the flag we see today reflect the immense diversity and unity of the LGBTQ+ community as well as the spectrum of human sexuality and gender.

What Do the Standard Colours in the Pride Flag Mean?

The Gilbert pride flag is the original flag. It included eight colours for the stripes: hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, and violet.

Here’s what the colours mean in this version of the pride flag:

  • Hot pink symbolises sex
  • Red symbolises life
  • Orange symbolises healing
  • Yellow symbolises sunlight
  • Green symbolises nature
  • Turquoise symbolises art
  • Indigo symbolises harmony
  • Violet symbolises spirit

Gilbert Baker introduced the original pride flag at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day parade, which was handmade. He wanted it to be mass-produced for consumption by all. However, there were production issues, which resulted in the removal of the pink and turquoise stripes. Also, basic blue replaced indigo.

This resulted in the flag we see today, the six-colour pride flag. Today’s pride flag features red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, like the natural rainbow.

Are There Variations of the Pride Flag? What About the New Pride Flag?

There are many variations and different types of the pride flag.

Bisexual Pride Flag

In 1998, activist Michael Paige designed the bisexual pride flag with the mission to raise awareness and spread pride among bisexual people. The bisexual pride flag includes three colours: pink, blue, and purple.

Pink represents attraction to people of the same sex, while blue represents attraction to people of the opposite sex. The two colours overlap to create purple to represent attraction to both the same sex and opposite sex.

Transgender Pride Flag

In 1999, a transwoman named Monica Helms, created the transgender pride flag, which features blue, pink, and white. Pink represents femininity, while blue represents masculinity.

The colour white symbolises neutral or undefined genders, transitioning, and intersexuality. The transgender flag aims to affirm trans people, no matter how it’s flown, with either side on top.

Genderqueer/Nonbinary Pride Flag

The genderqueer and nonbinary flag was created by Marilyn Roxie, a genderqueer writer, musician, and digital media designer. The flag features the colours lavender, white, and green. The lavender represents a mixture of blue and pink (traditional colours associated with women and men).

Lavender symbolises androgynes and androgyny. Androgyny is a type of gender presentation that falls between masculine and feminine.  Androgyne is a non-binary gender identity associated with androgyny. Lavender also represents the “queer” in genderqueer, which describes people who don’t follow binary gender norms.

White represents agender identity, i.e. not identifying with a specific gender or being gender-neutral. The green in the genderqueer and nonbinary flag is the inverse of lavender, representing “third gender” identity, which refers to those who identify off the

traditional gender spectrum.

The three colours within the genderqueer and nonbinary flag aim to illustrate the different concepts and variations of gender and sexuality and how they’re interrelated.

Genderfluid Pride Flag

Genderfluid is a subgroup of the genderqueer community. JJ Poole (they/them), an agender pansexual from New York created the genderfluid pride flag, which consists of five stripes:

  1. Pink - Femininity
  2. White - Lack of gender
  3. Purple - Combination of being both male and female, and the spectrums of androgyny
  4. Black - All other genders, pangender, and third gender.
  5. Blue - Masculinity

 This flag is meant to illustrate that genderfluid people identify with different gender identities over time. Many of them demonstrate “fluidity” and flexibility when it comes to gender expression, instead of committing to a single identity or definition.

Pansexual Pride Flag

The pansexual pride flag consists of the colours magenta, yellow, and blue. The magenta stripe symbolises women, while the blue stripe represents men. The yellow represents those of nonbinary gender, such as agender, bigender, or genderfluid.

The pansexual pride flag aims to show that pansexuals are sexually attracted to and have relationships with people of different genders and sexualities.

The New Pride Flag

The new pride flag, known as the Progress Pride Flag, is similar to the standard pride flag, except it includes the colours of the transgender flag (i.e. pink, blue, and white) and the colours brown and black to represent people of colour (POC). This is an important addition because POC have often been left out of the queer narrative.

The black and brown stripes also represent people living with HIV/AIDS, those who have died from it, and the stigma around the virus that’s still present in our society today.

The Progress Pride Flag also features a new shape, showing the white, pink, baby blue, black, and brown stripes in a triangle shape. The original rainbow colours are stacked next to them. The new colours in the arrow shape illustrate the progress still needed regarding POC and trans rights.

Being Proud of Your Gender Identity and Taking Sexual Health Seriously

The purpose of Pride month is to spread awareness about the different gender identities and sexual orientations and to show people that “queerness” is a spectrum, not black and white; hence, the rainbow flag. 

Whether you’re heterosexual, homosexual, queer, bigender, or identify outside the binary, it’s essential to protect your sexual health. So use protection and regularly test for STIs.

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Yoxly's Awesome Contributors (YACs) are a diverse group of individuals who are passionate about public health, and committed to furthering our mission. Yoxly provides a platform where a variety of sexual health topics (some more awkward than others!) can be explored, in an informative and non-judgmental way. If you'd like to become one of Yoxly's Awesome Contributors, contact us!