It’s almost Pride month, so you’re about to start seeing (and waving) all sorts of LGBTQIA+ Pride flags to show that you’re out and proud or an ally to the queer community. But what are the pride flags all about, and which one is most meaningful to you? Here at Spencer’s, we are all about supporting you and making sure you’re comfortable with who you are and proud of your identity.
Whether you want to give an LGBTQ flag to someone you care about or wave one around yourself, it’s important to know what each flag stands for. There’s a lot more than just one gay flag, because the community is such a large and diverse one. So we’ve gathered the most common pride flag colors to help you understand them better, along with some LGBTQ history.
Rainbow pride flag
This rainbow gay pride flag was inspired by Judy Garland’s song “Over the Rainbow,” and originally contained eight colors (hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo and violet), each with a different meaning related to queer pride, according to Pride.com. It was designed by Gilbert Baker and flown at the 1978 San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. In 1994, Baker even made a mile-long version of the flag for Stonewall 25 to honor this major anniversary in the gay rights movement.
The modern gay pride flag evolved from those eight colors to the current six, with the image of the rainbow commonly used to signify gay and LGBTQIA pride. There are many variations on the rainbow flag, including one with brown and black stripes to represent people of color.
Lesbian pride flag
The lesbian pride flag features stripes in a variety of colors, and originally had a lipstick print to signify lipstick lesbians and six stripes. This version with five stripes was created in 2018. Of the new lesbian flag, Reeta Loi, CEO of Gaysians, told the BBC, “I think for lesbians, we are marginalized within the broader queer community. I think it’s great that a flag like this exists so that we know that there are spaces that are inclusive and that we can participate in or belong to.”
Bisexual pride flag
The bi pride flag was created by Michael Page and first flown in 1998. According to Bi.org, “The magenta (or pink) stripe of the flag represents same-sex attraction, the royal blue stripe represents sexual attraction to the opposite sex, and the resulting blending of the two colors is the lavender stripe, which represents same-sex and opposite-sex attraction.”
Transgender pride flag
The trans pride flag features the blue, pink and white stripes, with the blue and pink signifying the traditional colors for boys and girls, and white standing for those who don’t fit neatly into those classic gender signifiers. It was created in 1999 by transgender activist, author and U.S. Navy veteran Monica Helms, who said in a Windy City Times interview, “The pattern is such that, no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our own lives.” The original version of this iconic flag for the trans community is now housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Pansexual Pride flag
This flag features pink, yellow and blue stripes, which distinguishes itself from the bisexual pride flag. According to Healthline, pansexual means being attracted to all genders, from the Latin word “pan” meaning “all.”
The polysexual flag features three stripes of bright pink, green and blue. This pride flag originated on Tumblr with a user named Samlin, who wrote that they made the flag similar to the bisexual and pansexual flags, “since they’re all in under the multisexual umbrella.” According to the University of Northern Colorado, the pink stands for attraction to female-identified people, green stands for attraction to those who don’t identify within the male-female binary, and blue stands for attraction to male-identified people.
Non-Binary Pride Flag
The nonbinary pride flag features four stripes: yellow, white, purple and black, and was created by 17-year-old Kye Rowan. According to the site Dear Biary, yellow stands for people who don’t identify within the gender binary, white stands for people who are multigender, purple is for those whose gender is comprised of both male and female, and black stands for those who don’t have a gender (also known as agender).
Asexual pride flag
This flag, which was selected in 2010, features four stripes of black, grey, white and purple. According to the Asexuality Archive, the stripes stand for:
Grey: Grey-Asexuality and Demisexuality
White: Non-asexual partners and allies
Aromantic pride flag
The aromantic flag was created by Tumblr user Cameron, and features five stripes of dark green, light green, white, grey and black. They represent the aromantic, platonic and sexual spectrums.
This flag, created by Marilyn Roxie, features three stripes of lavender, white and dark chartreuse green. Roxie created the flag while they were in college in fall 2010, and said in an interview, “I noticed that there wasn’t a genderqueer flag, and started with lavender as a springboard, due to lavender being a mix of blue and pink (present in the transgender flag) and the color’s significance in queer culture. I played around with a few variations, even one that included the color black instead of white, until coming upon the lavender/white/green (as the inverse of lavender) combo.”
The genderfluid flag, created by JJ Poole in 2012, has five stripes, pink, white, purple, black and blue, which, according to OutRight Action International, respectively stand for femininity, all genders, masculinity and femininity, the lack of gender and masculinity.
This flag features seven stripes, with green in the center, and white, grey and black above and below it. According to Refinery29, the flag was created in 2019 by Salem X or “Ska,” and “The black and white stripes represent complete absence of gender, grey represents being semi-genderless, and green represents non-binary gender.”
The intersex flag features a yellow background with a purple circle. It was created by Morgan Carpenter of Intersex Human Rights Australia in 2013. According to a post by Carpenter, “The colour yellow has long been regarded as an intersex colour, neither blue nor pink. Purple, too, has been used for the same purpose…The circle is unbroken and unornamented, symbolising wholeness and completeness, and our potentialities. We are still fighting for bodily autonomy and genital integrity, and this symbolises the right to be who and how we want to be.”
Leather pride flag
The leather pride flag was created by Tony DeBlase and presented at the 1989 Mr. International Leather (IML) Contest. This flag features blue and black stripes, with one white stripe and a red heart on the upper left-hand side. According to Watermark Online, DeBlase was inspired by the 20dd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. DeBlase wrote in his column in Drummer, “I felt that the time was right for the Leather men and women, who have been participating in these same parades and events more and more visibly in recent years, to have a similar, simple, elegant banner that would serve as a symbol of their own identity and interests.” Chicago’s Leather Archives and Museum exhibits the flag’s original prototype.
There you have it, our guide to the wide world of LGBTQ pride flags. Where can you use a pride flag? Anywhere you want! You can hang LGBTQ flags in your home or on your lawn, wear it on a hat or t-shirt as part of a fashionable pride outfit, among other options. For those of you who are glued to your phones (admit it—all of you!), there are even pride flag emoji which you can use for texting and emails.
Flying any or all pride flags is a way of showing that you support equality. While they’re extra timely in June or any other month, waving your favorite flag or wearing it as part of a pride outfit is fashionable all year long! Check out Spencer’s wide selection of LGBTQ pride merch here.
Want to show us how you’re wearing a pride flag this year? Email us a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured on the blog.