The Evolution of the Pride Flag

The month of June has been recognized as Pride Month for over twenty years, commemorating the Stonewall Riots that occurred in June of 1969. Over the years, brands and corporations have adapted the Pride flag colors across product, marketing and more to show rallying support during Pride month. With our continued pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion, we wanted to dig deeper and focus on the symbolism of the rainbow within the Pride flag — and what the colors mean to the larger LGBTQIA+ community.

Prior to the rainbow flag, a pink triangle was used as a symbol which honored the same representation used to identify homosexual men in Jewish concentration camps. The intended idea was to own the symbol, but the community felt as though they needed something new and vibrant to reflect positivity and inspiration. This led to the creation of the Pride flag, originally designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker.

Over time, additional colors and their symbolism have been added to the flag with the Progress flag designed by Daniel Quasar in 2018 becoming popularized and widely used in recent years. Here we take a look at the flag’s continued evolution from Baker’s original influence and ways in which designers worked to be inclusive of all people within the LGBTQIA+ community.

From the original Pride flag created by Gilbert Baker, here are the meaning of the varied colors:  

  • Red — Life
  • Orange — Healing
  • Yellow — Sunlight
  • Green — Nature
  • Blue — Serenity
  • Purple — Spirit

By the 1980s, the Victory Over AIDS flag appeared at the height of the AIDS epidemic. The flag added a black stripe to the bottom of the original pride flag to represent those lost to HIV/AIDS and the stigma that still surrounds those living with HIV today.

By 1999, the Trans Pride flag originally created by Monica Helms, incorporated three additional colors. The white, pink and light blue were used to represent Trans men, Trans women and nonbinary, non-gender conforming individuals.

In 2017, Amber Hikes introduced the More Color, More Pride flag incorporating two new colors to the top of the flag: black & brown to represent marginalized LGBTQ communities of color. The black stripe took influence from the Victory Over AIDS flag.

As we continue to support the LGBTQIA+ community beyond the month of June, let’s remember the meaning of the Pride flag and in its evolution the single thread that connects the entirety of the community — individuals claiming their own truth.

“Flags are about power. Flags say something. They are not just symbols; they mean something to people. We needed something that worked beyond words and the rainbow fits perfectly. It expressed our diversity in terms of gender, race, our age and all the ways we are different yet connected.” – Baker

For additional Brownstein Pride education, explore the Source of Pride.

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