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LGBTQ Symbols for Pride and Recognition

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Gay/Lesbian Pride Flag

The modern pride movement began after the Stonewall riots in 1959. Each year a parade was held to commemorate the anniversary of the riots. Now parades and festivals are held all over the world to celebrate gay pride. From the late 1970s it became common to see a rainbow striped flag flying during parades and over events. The flag originated in California and was designed by an artist called Gilbert Baker living in San Francisco in 1978. The original flags were hand stitched by Gilbert and thirty volunteers. This first design had eight stripes and each colour had a meaning assigned to it:

Hot pink - sexuality
Red - life
Orange - Healing
Yellow - Sunlight
Green - Nature
Turquoise - magic/art
Indigo - serenity/harmony
Violet - spirit

The hot pink stripe was dropped from the design due to the difficulty in obtaining the fabric. In 1979 the turquoise was also removed from the design because when the flag was hung the centre stripe would be obscured by the post. To avoid this the flag design became the six striped version still used today.

Bisexual Pride Flag

The bisexual pride flag was design by Michael page in 1998. He aimed to increase the visibility of bisexuals and give the bisexual community their own symbol. The colours of the flag are magenta, lavender and royal blue. The larger magenta and royal stripes represent the attraction to the opposite sex and the middle lavender stripe the attraction to the same sex. The three colours blend unnoticed into each other. Some people also use two slightly overlapping triangles, one pink and the other blue to represent bisexuality.

The bi pride flag is not patented or trademarked but it is requested that the correct colours are always used, as follows:

Magenta - #D60270
Lavender - #9B4F96
Blue - #0038A8

Transgender Pride Flag

The transgender pride flag was created by Monica Helms in 1999 and is used as a symbol of pride and diversity.
The light blue is the traditional colour for baby boys and the light pink is traditionally used for baby girls. The single white stripe in the middle is used to represent those who consider themselves as having a neutral or undefined gender, are transitioning or are intersex.
The flag has been designed in a way that means no matter which way you fly it, it will always be correct.

An alternative flag was designed by Jennifer Pellinen in 2002. This design also has five strips but uses the colours pink, light purple, medium purple, dark purple and blue. Pink and blue represent male and female respectively and the three shades of purple are used to symbolise diversity.

Pink triangle

The pink triangle was one of the badges used in Nazi concentration camps to identify prisoners. The triangle was used to identify male homosexuals and was worn inverted. Although the triangle was originally intended as a badge of shame it was reclaimed in the 1970s and became associated with gay pride and gay rights. The gay rights movement sometimes use an alternative symbol consisting of a pink triangle surrounded by a green circle.

Black Triangle

Like the pink triangle, the black triangle was also a Nazi concentration camp badge. It was used to identify prisoners that had been deemed 'anti-social'. Many where in fact mental ill or disabled and the group also included the homeless, alcoholics, prostitutes and in some camps; Roma people. It is unsure whether lesbians where included in this group but as the Nazi's had strong beliefs in traditional roles for women it is logical to think that lesbians maybe seen as anti-social.
Over time the lesbians have used the black triangle as a symbol of defiance against repression and discrimination, again reclaiming something that was once used to shame


This symbol consisting of two overlapping triangle is used to represent bisexuality and bi pride. It is generally thought that the pink triangle represents homosexuality (as it does when it is used alone) and that the blue represents heterosexuality. At the point where the two overlap the colours blend to become lavender, a blend of both colours to represent the blend of two sexualities.

An alternative view of the symbol is that the blue represents the attraction to males and the pink the attraction to females.


A labrys is a symmetrical doubleheaded axe and originally an ancient Greek symbol. The Greek Spartans believed that the lambda represented unity while the Romans believed it symbolised "the light of knowledge shining into the darkness of ignorance."


In 1974 International Gay Rights Congress declared the Greek letter lambda as the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights. The lambda is used to symbolize unity under oppression.

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Bear Flag

The international Bear Brotherhood flag was designed by Craig Byrnes in 1995 as a project while taking an undergraduate psychology degree. He designed four prototypes that where later displayed at the Chesapeake Bay Bears “Bears of Summer” events in July of 1995. Bears where able to vote for which flag they preferred by placing a quarter in the flags corresponding box.

The coloured stripes represent the hair and skin colours of the human race. Bear is a slang term used to refer to a subculture of the GLBT community. Bears tend to be heavy set men, often muscular and with facial and body hair. Younger and smaller men who identify as bears are sometimes known as 'cubs'. Cub can also be used to refer to the passive partner in a relationship. Other terms common to the culture are 'otter' meaning a slimmer or less hairy bear and 'lion' which is given to bears with long red or blonde hair.

Leather Pride Flag

The leather pride flag quickly embraced by the gay leather community after it was designed by Tony DeBlase in 1989. Today it is also associated with leather in general and related groups such as BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) subculture.
The flag consists of nine horizontal stripes of equal width. The stripes are coloured alternately black and royal blue with the exception of the central stripe, which is white.

Asexual Pride Flag

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) was founded in 2001 by David Jay. He had two main intentions, to create public acceptance of asexuality and to aid the growth and support of the asexual community.

Asexuality is defined either by a lack of sexual attraction to others or interest in sex and is also sometimes viewed as a lack of sexual orientation. Asexuality differs from abstention or celibacy as those are behavioural choices and normally motivated by factors such as personal or religious beliefs.

The pride flag was unveiled in 2010 so is a relatively new design. It was chosen using a survey. AVEN also use a triangle symbol to represent asexuality. The triangle is white at the top and fades through grey to black at the point. This depicts the fluid gradient between sexual and asexual.

Genderqueer Flag

This flag is used by and to represent those who identify outside of the commonly accepted gender binary. There are many different identities within this category including genderqueer, two-spirit, gender fluid, third gender and androgyny.

The flag is made up of three stripes, a lavender on the top, a white stripe in the centre and then a dark green stripe at the bottom. The lavender as a mix of blue and pink (traditionally used to represent men and women respectively) is used to represent androgyny. The white stripe is used as a neutral colour showing the agender or gender neutral identity. The final green stripe represents the third gender identity and all others that are outside of the traditional gender spectrum.

The flag was designed by Marilyn Roxie, a writer on genderqueer and non-binary identities. The flag is free to share and use and the correct colours are as follows:

Lavender - #b57edc
White - #ffffff
Dark chartreuse green - #4A8123

Straight ally and safe space symbol

Straight ally and safe space symbol

Straight Ally and Safe Space

Straight ally is a term used to describe heterosexuals who challenge homophobia and support gay rights. Many organisations such as Gay-Straight Alliance and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & defenders (GLAD) have straight members.

Safe space is a term used, often in schools to identity a place as safe for all and that does not tolerate anti-LGBTQ violence or harassment. Staff in safe spaces often receive dedicated training on diversity.

© 2013 Claire


Claire (author) from Lincolnshire, UK on November 14, 2013:

You're welcome :)

Mackenzie Sage Wright on October 08, 2013:

Wow, I didn't know about most of these. Interesting, thanks for the info.

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