(NEXSTAR) – Flags have long been a fundamental part of human history. You can find flags for cities and towns, sports teams and political parties, brands and memes, and nearly anything else. For members of the LGBTQ community, flags are an equally important tradition.
“They are a visible representation of identity that people use in celebration, in protest, or even as a casual adornment,” reads a blog post by OutRight Action International, an LGBTQIA human rights organization.
Below are five of the most common LGBTQ flags and what they signify.
Rainbow Pride Flag
The most recognizable LGBTQ flag is the Rainbow Pride Flag, seen below, created by Gilbert Baker. Mirroring the rainbow, this flag was first flown in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June 1978. Pink was originally included in the flag, but was removed after a year because of a shortage of fabric, according to the University of Northern Colorado.
Each color carries a different meaning: red, for life; orange, healing; yellow, sunlight; green, nature; blue, harmony or peace; and violet, spirit. The pink stripe stood for sexuality, explains the LGBTQA+ Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Philadelphia Pride Flag
Nearly 40 years later, the Philadelphia Pride Flag was created to make the original Pride Flag more inclusive for people of color in light of racism in “the thriving Gayborhood of Philadelphia.” The flag, pictured below, was designed by a Philadelphia-based PR agency, Tierney, for the city’s “More Color More Pride” campaign in 2017.
“We created a new design for the flag by adding two new colors, black and brown,” Tierney explains on its website. “Not just to change the flag, but to raise awareness and help fuel this important conversation.”
The rebooted Pride Flag
In 2018, graphic artist Daniel Quasar designed the Progress Pride Flag, seen below. The updated rendition of the original Pride Flag added a multicolor arrow “to highlight and honor Queer People of Color and the Transgender community.”
The arrow, seen in the picture below, holds two meanings, according to UNCO. The black and brown stripes represent the Black and Latinx queer communities while the blue, pink, and white are a nod to the Transgender Pride Flag. Each of the remaining colors holds the same meaning as they did in the traditional rainbow flag.
Transgender Pride Flag
The Transgender Pride Flag was designed in 1999 by Monica Helms, an openly transgender woman in the U.S., according to OutRight International. While it appears as a triangle in the Progress Pride flag, the actual Transgender Pride flag contains five stripes: two light blue, two light pink, and one white.
Helms, a Navy veteran, explained that blue and pink signify the traditional colors for baby boys and girls, respectively. The white represents intersex, transitioning, or a neutral or undefined gender. Helms was encouraged to create the flag by Michael Page, who created the bisexual flag, according to the U.S. Veterans Affairs, and debuted the flag during a Pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2000.
Bisexual Pride Flag
Page’s Bisexual Pride flag also features three colors: pink, purple, and blue. The pink represents attraction to those of the same gender, the purple for attraction to two genders, and blue for those who identify as a different gender, UNCO explains. The flag was unveiled in 1998 during the first anniversary of BiCafe, a bisexual website.
This is by no means an exhaustive list – there are numerous pride flags used by the LGBTQ community and their allies, with new flags being conceptualized and used, according to Outright International.
In recent years, more and more cities and states have begun flying the rainbow flag outside government buildings during June, which is annually recognized as Pride Month.