By Carolina Salinas
Many of us are familiar with the Rainbow Flag flowing throughout Canadian Parks, in bars or been waved on the streets by activists especially during Pride Month. However, many people are unaware that there are other types of flags that represent a vast range of different sexual orientations.
1. Rainbow Flag.
Did you know that the Rainbow Pride Flag had eight colours originally instead of the current six-stripes version? This worldwide flag was created by the queer artist Gilbert Baker and unveiled in 1978. During the 70´s Baker was introduced to the first gay activist Harvey Milk, who later on asked Gilbert to create a recognizable and memorable symbol of empowerment for the queer community.
The current six-stripe flag was established in 1979, and each of their colours have a particular meaning. For instance, red represents life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for harmony and purple for spirit. Therefore, according to Gilbert Baker, this Rainbow Flag represents hope, love, equality and pride.
2. Transgender Flag.
Monica Helms was the transgender woman who not only served with honour for her country in the United States Navy during the decade of 70´s, but also created a transgender flag in 1999 as a representation of transgender legitimacy and pride.
According to Monica, the flag consist of five stripes.
“The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional colour for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional colour for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning, or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.”
3. Pansexual Flag.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a Pansexual person is someone who is sexually attracted to many types of people, without considering whether they are men or women. In other words, Pansexual people are attracted to people regardless of gender, not genitalia.
This pansexual community has its own flag that represents them. According to the article “A Storied Glossary of Iconic LGBT Flags and Symbols”, the pansexual flag is used to increase visibility, its recognition, and to distinguish it from bisexuality.
The pansexual flag consists of three coloured horizontal bars: pink that represents those who identify within the female spectrum (regardless of biological sex); yellow represents non-binary attraction, such as an androgynous or bigender person; and a blue bar that represents those who identify within the male spectrum (regardless of biological sex as well).
4. Intersex Flag.
The Intersex flag was invented in 2013 by Morgan Carpenter along with Tony Briffa, for Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA). According to Morgan, the circle represents “Wholeness and Simplicity”.
“The circle is unbroken and unornamented, symbolizing wholeness and completeness, and our potentialities. We are still fighting for bodily autonomy and genital integrity, and this symbolizes the right to be who and how we want to be.”
Morgan Carpenter adds that for him “wholeness” means, to keep the child whole and without surgery. To let them decide if they want cosmetic surgeries or medical interventions in their future. Although this flag is fairly simple, its elements have a powerful meaning. For instance, the colour yellow has been considered for a long time as the hermaphrodite colour, while the circle, as Morgan says, symbolizes completeness and wholeness.
5. Bisexual Flag.
If you still do not feel a strong connection with any of the above flags, maybe the Bisexual Flag is one that best represents you. It was created in 1998 by Michael Page, but before its creation, and according to “History, Bi Activism, Free Graphics”, a large number of bisexual people did not feel a strong connection to the iconic Rainbow Flag. There used to be some motifs, such as the “bi angles”, a symbol depicts the bisexual community, or the crescent moon symbol.
This flag has three stripes. The pink stripe represents sexual attraction to the same sex only (gay and lesbian). The blue stripe symbolizes sexual attraction to the opposite sex, only (straight) and the resultant overlap colour purple for sexual attraction to both sexes.
6. Asexual Flag.
This flag was designed and created by a member of Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), for a contest in 2010, with the purpose to raise awareness of asexuality. This flag consists of four horizontal stripes: black for asexuality, grey representing the grey-area between sexual and asexual, white for sexuality, and purple for community.
Therefore, if you do not experience any kind of sexual attraction to anybody, this flag is the best option to represent you during Pride month.
7. Agender Flag.
One of the most recent flags created is the Agender Flag, which came about in 2014. This has seven stripes. The black and white ones represent the lack of gender, while the grey stripes represent people who are semi-genderless. Finally, the green stripe represents a non binary gender.
Thus, if you belong to this group of people whose gender is neutral, meaning you have a lack of gender or an undefined gender identity, then it might well be a good idea to bring with you this flag during the Toronto Gay Parade 2019.
8. Non-Binary Flag
The most recent Non-Binary or Genderqueer Flag was created in 2011, and represents the identity or the support for people whose gender identity does not exclusively belong to either a masculine or feminine category. According to the Worldflagshop, these people may be a combination of both genders, or none altogether. This flag also seeks to end discrimination based on gender, and promotes the use of a gender-neutral language.
This flag has three colours: lavender, which symbolizes androgyny or queerness, white that represents agender identity, and green for people with non-binary identities.
9. Bear Flag.
The Bear Flag was created in 1995 by Craig Byrnes to represent the bear subculture within the LGBT community, and to express inclusion in mind. According to Ron Suresha in his book, “Bears on Bears: Interviews and Discussions”, the gay bear culture celebrates secondary sex characteristics, such as growth of body hair and facial hair, which is typically considered a “bear” trait.
Ray Kampf authored, “Bear Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Those Who Are Husky, Hairy and Homosexual, and Those Who Love ´Em”, where Ray says that the colours of this Bear Flag represent the fur colours and nationalities of bears throughout the world, and the flag was designed with inclusivity in mind.
10. Leather Pride Flag.
Created by Tony DeBlase in 1989, the Leather Pride Flag is a symbol that was embraced by the Leather community and related groups.
“The flag is composed of nine horizontal stripes of equal width. From the top and from the bottom, the stripes alternate black and royal blue. The central stripe is white. In the upper left quadrant of the flag is a large red heart. I will leave it to the viewer to interpret the colors and symbols.” Its creator, DeBlase said.
Additionally, this flag is also used within the BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadomasochism) subculture.
As you can see, there are more than plenty flags whose origins, history, and meaning can represent you best based on your sexual orientation during the upcoming Toronto Pride Parade, apart from the popular Rainbow flag. Be sure to broaden your horizons to decorate venues, or for use during special events or parades to express your true sexual orientation and identity without fear.