The diverse rainbows of the LGBTQIA+ community
As pride month, June is dedicated to celebrating the diverse LGBTQIA+ communities all over the world. The pride flag is a crucial and universally recognised symbol for global LGBTQIA+ communities. But what do the colors of the pride flag actually mean? And how many different pride flags exist?
Read on to uncover the important meaning of each color of the pride flag, and how they collectively represent a history of injustice, activism, and celebration.
(Photo | Pushkar V)
The original pride symbol emerged out of a dark, anti-gay historical event – the Holocaust. Nazis forced those labelled as “gay” to wear an inverted pink triangle badge similar to how Jewish people were forced to wear the yellow Star of David. The pride symbol during the period of the Nazi regime was first symbolised as an upright pink triangle, inverting the Nazi symbol for “gay people” as an act of defiance. “Gay people wear the pink triangle today as a reminder of the past and a pledge that history will not repeat itself” – this quote was read in a letter to the editor in the Times in 1977. The pink triangle still exists today, symbolising its empowering nature as individuals collectively stand together against systems of oppression.
Nowadays we are most familiar with the rainbow pride flag, which has existed for over fifty years. Gilbert Baker (an American artist and gay rights activist) was the first man to create it. Living in San Francisco he met Cleve Jones, Artie Bressen and Harvey Milk (an American politician who was the first openly gay man to be elected on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the history of California – check out the 2008 autobiographical film of him called Milk) who encouraged him to create a powerful emblem for the LGBTQIA+ community. One night in a music venue called the Winterland Ballroom the array of swirling, magical bursting colors and movements of diverse people dancing in the light triggered an idea in Gilbert Baker to create a rainbow flag. The original rainbow flag produced by Gilbert Baker has evolved with time. The most recognisable today has six colored stripes (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet) which embody the diverse gender and sexuality spectrum:
RED represents LIFE, it reminds us of the color of our blood and our bodies. It also embodies the notion of passion amongst and between different cultures. Culture is the thing which gives vibrancy to LIFE.
ORANGE is a symbol for HEALING. The color is bright and bold while simultaneously representing fun and celebration, manifesting itself as a HEALING activity for the community.
YELLOW signifies LIGHT, you should always be yourself and not hide behind the shadows. The brightness in the centre balances the other colors to form a powerful message, stimulating new ideas and thoughts for the community and its activism.
GREEN represents NATURE – a symbol of a healing place that allows for prosperity, growth and love.
BLUE is a symbol for HARMONY and SERENITY. The color encourages calmness and relaxation as it soothes the soul into SERENITY.
VIOLET signifies the SPIRIT. VIOLET as a color is associated with royalty and similar to blue expresses calmness, but its most important element is that it connects us to the human spirit in us all.
However, it is important to note that from the original there has evolved numerous flags that highlight and emphasize the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community. Flags have been created for individuals who identify as bisexual, pansexual, asexual, intersex, transgender, gender-fluid, non-binary, aromantic, polyamorous, lesbian and many more! Below are the pictures of these flags:
Other flags integrate brown and black stripes. The brown and black stripes were added to the rainbow pride flag to embrace People of Color (POC) and Black, Asian and Minority Ethinic (BAME) communities within the movement. People of Color and BAME communities have been historically marginalised from the queer narrative despite being a driving force behind the movement. Pride movements originated through Black transgender activists such as Marsha P. Johnson who fought in the Stonewall riot in 1969. Interlinking these two-color stripes with the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) acknowledges the vital role that people of color play in the LGBTQIA+ community and our society at large. These black and brown stripes are also an expression of people living with and those who have died from HIV/AIDs; they remind us that individuals are still fighting against the stigma that revolves around HIV/AIDs.
The Progress Pride Flag which was deigned by Daniel Quasar has eleven stripes, integrating both the brown and black stripes and the colors of the transgender flag. The new progressive flag is supposed to represent diversity, inclusion, and the importance of moving forward in a more tolerant and intersectional LGBTQIA+ community.
India’s history and ancient Hindu texts contained references to homosexuality and the “third gender” known as “Tritiya Prakriti”. Members of this Hindu Philosophy at the time did not ascribe to the binaries of gender and sexuality. Furthermore, homosexuality and sexuality were expressed in the ancient Indian text called “Kamasutra” by Vatsyayana. However, homosexuality was criminalised during British colonialisation under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The British Raj for example enacted laws that eradicated and criminalised the “Kinnar'' - LGBTQIA+ communities at the time. The law under Section 377 that criminalised sexual activities “against the order of nature” has been carried through into the present; LGBTQIA+ communities in India still experience stigma and criminalisation both in a cultural and legislative context. However, in 2018 India declared Section 377 unconstitutional, decriminalising homsexuality. India’s LGBTQIA+ community has been rising and fighting for justice and equality for many years, and amongst this diverse community Ashok Row Kavi, Keshav Suri, Sonal Giani, Gauri Sawant and Manvendra Singh Gohil are some of India’s strong and beautiful LGBTQIA+ activists.
At Saathi we want to express our whole-hearted and committed support for the LGBTQIA+ community as we seek to continue to support and work with LGBTQIA+ communities around India.The word “saathi” stands for someone who is a companion or a friend; a caring individual with whom we can share our troubles and burdens with. “Saathi'' is not bound by gender boundaries or definitions; it is a gender-neutral term. “Saathi” could represent someone’s friend, their spouse, or their partner; it could be a transgender, a non-binary individual, a male, a female, or any member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Through such thinking Saathi believes in developing an inclusive and diverse approach which recognizes the LGBTQIA+ community as equal individuals and shareholders of Earth and society. The LGBTQIA+ community is among our number, some as fellow-menstruators, others as close confidants, and with us on our journey towards an equitable, inclusive, sustainable and diverse society.
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Saathi is an award winning social venture which has a patented technology to convert agri-waste into absorbent materials. Our sanitary pads are 100% biodegradable and compostable made from banana and bamboo fibers, which convert into compost in 6 months of its disposal. Saathi pads are good for the body🩸, community 🌎 and environment 🌱. We are on a mission to revolutionize the hygiene industry as a consumer products company that makes products in a sustainable and responsible way.
We are recognized by the UNESCO Green Citizens project, St. Andrews, Solar Impulse Foundation and Global Cleantech Innovation Program among others for our innovative, social impact and sustainable work. We are working towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 12, 13, 3, 9, 5, 6, 8, and 14.
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