In 1977, Harvey Milk challenged Gilbert Baker, a veteran who taught himself to sew, to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community.
His response was the original Pride flag. Inspired by Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow," these colours flew at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration on June 25, 1978. Though some dispute whether Baker was the sole creator of the flag that started it all, its symbolism remains.
Each colour celebrates an aspect of queer Pride:
Hot pink = Sex
Red = Life
Orange = Healing
Yellow = Sunlight
Green = Nature
Turquoise = Magic/Art
Indigo = Serenity
Violet = Spirit
After the assassination of Harvey Milk - An American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the history of the United States,
many people wanted the Pride flag he commissioned to commemorate his accomplishments for the community and their personal support.
The demand however, was greater than the available fabric, so the Paramount Flag Company began selling this version of the flag, as did Gilbert Baker, who had trouble getting hot pink fabric.
The traditional and most familiar flag. The Rainbow Flag is seen at Pride events all around the world and is often used as a collective symbol for the entire LGBT community.
However, the design we are most familiar with has changed slightly from the original designed by Gilbert Baker in 1977.
In 1979, the LGBT community landed on the current six colour version. Numerous complications over having an odd-number of colours led to turquoise being dropped, at least according to reports anyway.
The Transgender Pride flag was created by trans activist, author and veteran of the United States Navy Monica Helms, who came out as trans in 1987.
Helms came up with the trans flag in 1999, after she met Michael Page, and he told her “the trans community needs a flag too.”
"The light blue is the traditional colour for baby boys and pink for girls - the white in the middle of the flag is for those who are transitioning, those who feel they have a neutral gender or no gender, and those who are intersexed,” Helms said.
“The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it will always be correct. This symbolises us trying to find correctness in our own lives.”
The Bisexual Pride flag was designed by Michael Page in 1998 in order to give bisexual people a wider sense of community and visibility.
Page said that the message of the flag was the idea that the purple blends into both the blue and pink in the same way that bisexual people often blend unnoticed into both gay and straight communities.
The flag was inspired by an older symbol of bisexuality: the "biangles," two overlapping pink and dark blue triangles.
The top 40 percent of the flag is magenta, the middle 20 percent is lavender, and the bottom 40 percent is royal blue. The magenta represents same-sex attraction, the blue represents heterosexual attraction, and the lavender, which is a mixture of both the magenta and blue, represents attraction to both sexes.
Many people see pansexuality as either an attraction regardless of gender or an attraction to all genders. The creator of the Pansexual flag is unknown.
The flag began to be used on the internet in 2010 and has since become a frequent sight at Pride events all around the world.
Pansexual people describe the flag as showing the attraction to men with the blue stripe, women with the pink and people of other genders with the yellow.
This new flag seeks to take Philadelphia's inclusive approach a step further. Daniel Quasar, who identifies as queer and non-binary, designed the flag.
The white, pink, and light blue reflect the colours of the transgender flag, while the brown and black stripes represent people of colour and those lost to AIDS.
“When the Pride flag was recreated in the last year to include both black/brown stripes as well as the trans stripes included this year, I wanted to see if there could be more emphasis in the design of the flag to give it more meaning,” Quasar said.
Noting that queer people of colour are often not fully included in the LGBT community, the City of Philadelphia added two colours - black and brown to the Pride flag in their honour.
The City had previously faced accusations of racial discrimination in its gay bars, which led 11 queer nightlife venues to take antiracism training.
Many were outraged by the flag, claiming that the rainbow includes all skin colours, but with a star like Lena Waithe wearing it as a cape at the 2018 Met Gala, it looks like the design is here to stay.
Non-binary is both a term to describe a gender identity that isn’t exclusively male or female, and an explicit identity label for many people.
Created in 2014 by 17-year-old Kye Rowan, the four stripes of the Non-binary Pride flag each represent a different part of the non-binary community.
The yellow stripe is for gender separate from the gender binary, white for those with multiple genders, the purple stripe is for those who are a mix of male and female, and black is for people without a gender at all.
Polysexuality, unlike pansexuality, is the attraction to multiple genders but not all. A middle ground between bisexuality and pansexuality.
It can also be used as an umbrella term for identities such as bisexual and pansexual, but many use polysexual as an identity in itself.
It is centred more around attractions to femininity and masculinity rather than gender itself. The pink represents attraction to females; the blue for males. The green is for an attraction to those who don't conform to either gender.
Genderqueer is one form of non-binary identity that has its own flag, which was created by artist and film maker Marilyn Roxie in 2011.
The three stripes of the flag each have their own meaning, with androgyny represented with lavender, agender people represented with the white, and non-binary identities with the green.
Genderfluid is the term for people who find that their gender identity can shift, and the identity is often included under the non-binary umbrella.
The five stripes of the Genderfluid Pride flag each have their own meanings, with the pink and blue for femininity and masculinity, the purple stripe for both masculinity and femininity.
The black stripe in the flag represents a lack of gender, and white is there for all genders.
Asexuality is often a term used by people who have a very limited or no sexual feelings or desires whatsoever.
According to the Asexuality Archive, the flag was created by a member of the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) as part of a contest in 2010.
As with all our other flags, the four stripes each have their own specific meaning.
The black stripe stands for asexuality, the grey stripe for greysexuals (the fluid area between sexual and asexuals) or demisexuality (people who don't experience sexual attraction unless they have an emotional connection with their partners.) the white for allies and the purple for the asexual community as a whole.
In the gay community, a Bear is a man who is hairy and/or has facial hair, often with a ‘cuddly’ body.
Prominent Washington, D.C. bear Craig Byrnes designed the flag in 1995 for the international Bear Brotherhood following several years of development.
The flag was later distributed, with the colours representing the nationality and different hair or fur colours of bears from around the world.
Intersex means a person who is born with variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that don’t fit the typical “male” or “female” definitions.
Designed by the advocacy group Intersex Human Rights Australia in 2013, the intersex Pride flag intentionally stays away from traditionally gendered colours of blue and pink to celebrate the intersex community.
Explaining the meaning of the flag, the group states: “The circle is unbroken and un-ornamented, 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.”
Polyamoury is the term for people who have open sexual or romantic relationships with more than one person at a time.
Many polyamorous people also identify with another label within the LGBT+ community, and so it’s common to see polyamorous Pride flags.
Designed by Jim Evans, the flag represents honesty with the blue stripe, love with the red, and the fight against discrimination with the black stripe.
The pi symbol in the middle of the flag is used because it is the first letter in the Greek word for polyamory, and also represents emotional attachments to other people.