Gay Symbols

This page is here to introduce you to some gay symbols.
There is so much to learn when you first find out someone you love or care about is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Once you become more affiliated within the gay community and culture you will come across these symbols regularly.

I remember when I first saw one, I didn’t know what it was or what it represented. But later as I became aware of them I realised they were not only used for gay pride but were very helpful to me and both my sons for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I personally like to wear gay symbol badges or have gay symbol stickers on my car so as to have people ask the question “what does it stand for?”

I find this a great way to open up the conversation on gay issues. The more people willing to discuss these issues in a confident and relaxed way, the more we can educated society correctly. Making the world a more accepting and better place for our gay children or loved ones.

The other way that these symbols have helped us is by being visible on the doors and windows of shops, restaurants, health related services, etc. For most of the public they are unaware of what they stand for but for us it lets us know it is a ‘gay friendly’ place, without actually saying “gay friendly” on the door.

There are a few different gay symbols being used today although I will only be sharing with you the two most popular, being the rainbow flag and the pink triangle.

The Rainbow Flagrainbow flag2

The rainbow flag has become the easily-recognised colors of pride for the gay community. 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 gay community began in 1978 when it first appeared in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedon Day Parade. Borrowing symbolism from the hippie movement and black civil rights groups, San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag in response to a need for a symbol that could be used year after year.

Baker and thirty volunteers hand-stitched and hand-dyed two huge prototype flags for the parade. The flags had eight stripes, each color representing a component of the community: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit.

The next year Baker approached San Francisco Paramount Flag Company to mass produce rainbow flags for the 1979 parade. Due to production constraints, such as the fact that hot pink was not a commercially available color, pink and turquoise were removed from the design and royal blue replaced indigo.

The six color version spread from San Francisco to other cities and countries and soon became the internationally known symbol of gay pride and diversity it is today. It is even officially recognised by the International Congress of Flag Makers.

In 1994, a huge 30 foot wide by one mile long rainbow flag was carried by 10,000 people in New York’s Stonewall 25 Parade.

The rainbow flag has inspired a wide variety of related symbols, such as freedom rings and other accessories. There are plenty of variations of the flag.

The Pink Triangletriangle-pink

The pink triangle is easily one of the more popular and widely recognised symbols for the gay community. 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.

The pink triangle challenges that notion and defies anyone to deny history.

The history of the pink triangle begins before WW II, during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Paragraph 175, a clause in German law prohibiting homosexual relations was revised by Hitler in 1935 to include kissing, embracing and gay fantasies as well as sexual acts.

Convicted offenders, an estimated 25,000 just fom 1937 to 1939 were sent to prison and then later to consentration camps.

Their sentence was to be sterilised and this was most often accomplished by castration. In 1942 Hitler’s punishment for homosexuality was extended to death.

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 heirarchy 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 the Star of David designated a Jewish prisoner. The pink triangle was for homosexuals. A yellow Star of David under a superimposed pink triangle marked the lowest of all prisoners– a gay Jew.

In the 1970’s, gay liberation groups resurrected the pink triangle as a popular symbol for the gay rights movement.

In the 1980’s, ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) began using the pink triangle for their cause.

They inverted the symbol, making it point up, to signify an active fight back rather than a passive resignation to fate.

Today, for many the pink triangle represents pride, solidarity and a promise to never allow another Holocaust to happen again.


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