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Wikipedia: LGBTQ Pride Symbols
Stonewall Society: Gay Symbols
Wikipedia: Gay Pride
Symbols of the LGBTQ Movements
Wikipedia: History of Homosexuality
Rainbow Dept: LGBTQ Pride Symbols
Pride Symbols and
lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer groups over
the years have used a variety of symbols to demonstrate
solidarity and unity for a common cause and to
graphically represent their shared vision. LGBTQ
advocates and activists have adopted various emblems,
logos, insignia, flags, and colors, to express their
sense of pride.
The rainbow flag has become the easily-recognized colors
of pride for the LGBTQ community. The multicultural
symbolism of the rainbow is nothing new; Jesse Jackson's
Rainbow Coalition also embraces the rainbow as a symbol
of that political movement. The rainbow also plays a
part in many myths and stories related to gender and
sexuality issues in Greek, Native American, African, and
other cultures. Use of the rainbow flag by the LGBTQ
community began in 1978 when it first appeared in the
San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade.
The pink triangle is easily one of the oldest symbols
for the LGBTQ community. Very popular and
widely-recognized, the pink triangle is rooted in World
War II times, and reminds us of the tragedies of that
era. Although homosexuals were only one of the many
groups targeted for extermination by the Nazi regime, it
is unfortunately the group that history often excludes.
Each prisoner in the concentration camps wore a colored
inverted triangle to designate their reason for
incarceration, and hence the designation also served to
form a sort of social hierarchy among the prisoners. A
green triangle marked its wearer as a regular criminal;
a red triangle denoted a political prisoner. Two yellow
triangles overlapping to form a Star of David designated
a Jewish prisoner. The pink triangle was for
In the 1970s, gay liberation groups resurrected the pink
triangle as a popular symbol for the gay rights
movement. Not only is the symbol easily recognized, but
it draws attention to oppression and persecution -- then
and now. In the 1980s, ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash
Power) began using the pink triangle for their cause.
Today, for many the pink triangle represents pride,
solidarity, and a promise to never allow another
Holocaust to happen again. As the pink triangle is
historically a male symbol, the black triangle has
similarly been reclaimed by lesbians and feminists as a
symbol of pride and solidarity.
Lambda is the Greek lower-case letter "L." It was first
chosen as an LGBTQ symbol when it was adopted in 1970 by
the New York Gay Activists Alliance. It became the
symbol of their growing movement of gay liberation. In
1974, the lambda was subsequently adopted by the
International Gay Rights Congress held in Edinburgh,
Scotland. As their symbol for lesbian and gay rights,
the lambda became internationally popular. No one seems
to have a definitive answer why the lambda was
originally chosen as a gay symbol.
Some suggest that lambda, as the letter "L," stands for
liberation (as in, the gay liberation movement). Others
cite the use of lambda in physics to denote energy (the
energy we have when we work in concert) or wavelength.
The ancient Greek Spartans regarded the lambda to mean
unity, while the Romans considered it "the light of
knowledge shed into the darkness of ignorance."
Reportedly, Ancient Greeks placed the lambda on shields
of Spartan warriors, who were often paired off with
younger men in battle. There was a theory that warriors
would fight more fiercely knowing that their lovers were
both watching and fighting alongside them.
Biological gender symbols are common astrological signs
handed down from ancient Roman times. The pointed Mars
symbol represents the male and the Venus symbol with the
cross represents the female. Double interlocking male
symbols have been used by gay men since the 1970s.
Double interlocking female symbols have often been used
to denote lesbianism, but some feminists have instead
used the double female symbols to represent the
sisterhood of women. These same feminists would use
three interlocking female symbols to denote lesbianism.
The labrys is a double edged hatchet or axe which was
commonly used by matriarchal societies as both a weapon
and a harvesting tool. Today, the labrys is a lesbian
and feminist symbol of strength and self-sufficiency.
Lesbians continue to use it as a common symbol of pride.
The labrys also played a part in ancient Mythology.
Demeter, the goddess of the earth, used a labrys as her
scepter and religious ceremonies in her honor (as well
as in honor of Hecate, the goddess of the underworld)
are believed to included lesbian sex.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is one of the most
prominent national LGBTQ rights organizations. Its logo
consists of a blue square with a yellow equal sign. Many
LGBTQ activist or interest groups incorporate an equal
sign in their logo. The Marriage Equality (same-sex
marriage) symbol is another good example.
The rectangular flag consists of a broad magenta stripe
at the top (representing same-gender attraction), a
broad stripe in blue at the bottom (representing
opposite-gender attraction), and a narrower deep
lavender band occupying the central fifth (which
represents attraction towards both genders).
The blue and pink overlapping triangle symbol represents
bisexuality and bi pride. The exact origin of this
symbol, sometimes facetiously referred to as the "biangles",
remains ambiguous. It is thought that the pink triangle
represents homosexuality, as it does when it stands
alone, while the blue stands for heterosexuality. The
two together form the color lavender, a blend of both
sexual orientations and a color that has been associated
with homosexuality for almost a century. It's possible
that the pink may represent attraction to females, the
blue attraction to males, and lavender attraction to
both. The bisexual moon symbol was created to avoid the
use of the Nazi-originated pink triangle.
Popular symbols used to identify transgender,
transsexual, intersex, and other gender variant (or
gender queer) people frequently consist of modified
gender symbols combining elements from both the male and
female symbols. More specifically, the symbol depicts a
circle with an arrow (as per the male symbol), a cross
(as per the female symbol), and an additional striked
arrow (combining the female cross and male arrow).
Another transgender symbol uses the Mercury symbol. In
Greek mythology, Aphrodite (Venus) had a child with
Mercury (Hermes). The child was named Hermaphroditus and
possessed both male and female genitalia. Thus the
origin of the word hermaphrodite. Since Hermaphroditus
didn't have a specific symbol, the symbol for Mercury
was borrowed in this instance to represent a transgender
person. Mercury's symbol has a cross extending down to
represent femininity and a crescent moon at the top to
represent masculinity. The two are placed at opposite
ends of the circle to strike a balance between the male
and female parts. This symbol seems to speak more to
those transgender persons who identify
hermaphroditically or andgroynously.
The flag that symbolizes the asexual community uses the
colors black, grey, white and purple. The black stripe
represents asexuality. The grey stripe represents the
grey-area between sexuality and asexuality. The white
stripe represents sexuality. The purple stripe
The pansexual flag is striped with the rose, blue, and
gold, representing the female gender, male gender, and
third-gender, respectively. The third-gender includes
those who are intersex, genderqueer, transsexual,
androgynous, and other who identify as being both
The Genderqueer umbrella term, referring to gender
non-conforming or gender variant people, is represented
by a flag with the colors purple (lavender), white, and
Agender people are represented by a
flag with black, grey, white, and green colors.
The black and white stripes represent the complete
absense of gender. The green stripe represents nonbinary
The Bear community, with its hypermasculine image and
rustic physical type, uses earthy, natural colors along
with a bear claw for its symbol of brotherhood.
Symbols used in the BDSM community and fetish subculture
include the Triskelion icon and the Leather Pride flag.
Colors used in the symbols of the BDSM and Leather
communities are black and blue.
While many safe zone programs on various college and
high school campuses have individually unique logos to
represent their particular program, the circle design
has come to represent the universal safe zone symbol.
The green circle (sometimes a symbol for LGBTQ allies)
represents safety or protection. The inverted pink
triangle represents the LGBTQ community. Together they
depict protection for LGBTQ people. Sometimes stop signs
are a part of many safe zone placards (suggesting "stop
hate" or "stop bullying").
The black and white stripes in the background (field)
represent straight (heterosexual) people. A large
rainbow colored "A" (for Ally) is added in the
foreground to indicate straight support for LGBTQ
people, issues, and concerns.
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