The History of the Pride Flag

The History of the Pride Flag

It’s impossible to think of Pride Month without imagining the iconic rainbow Pride flag. The famous flag has become an enduring symbol of pride and support for the LGBTQ+ Community.  

You probably know that the Pride flag is a rainbow, but did you know that the design of the flag has changed over the years, and that each colour has a specific meaning?  

The Gilbert Baker Design 

The first rainbow Pride flag was designed in 1978 by artist and gay rights activist Gilbert Baker. He came up with the design after prominent gay rights leader Harvey Milk urged him to create a new, positive symbol that the entire LGBTQ+ community could rally behind.  

Baker thought a rainbow flag would better represent the beautiful diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.  

Each colour stands for a different component of the community: 

Hot Pink – Sex  

Red – Life 

Orange – Healing 

Yellow – Sunlight 

Green – Serenity and Nature 

Turquoise – Art 

Indigo – Harmony 

Violet – Spirit 

Traditional Gay Pride Flag 

In 1979 the design was amended again. The community finalised this six-colour version and this is now the most familiar and recognisable design for the LGBTQ+ flag. Numerous complications over the odd number of stripes, including the desire to split the flag to decorate Pride parades, meant that one colour had to be dropped. 

The turquoise and indigo stripes were combined to create a royal blue stripe and it was agreed that the flag should typically be flown horizontally, with red at the top, as it would be in a natural rainbow. This design continued to increase in popularity around the world, being a focal point of landmark decisions such as John Stout fighting for his right to fly the flag from his apartment balcony in 1989. 

The Philadelphia 2017 Design 

Recognising that people of colour are often not fully included by LGBTQ+ people, and often face further discrimination from within the community, the city of Philadelphia adopted an additional 2 stripes to the Pride flag. Black and brown were added at the top of the flag to represent the struggles and prejudices that queer people of colour face regularly. 

The Progress Pride Flag 

In June 2018, designer and activist Daniel Quasar released an updated version of the Pride flag. Combining the new elements of the Philadelphia design and the Transgender flag to bring focus on further inclusion and progress. This new flag added a chevron to the hoist of the traditional 6-colour flag which represents marginalised LGBTQ+ communities of colour, those living with HIV/AIDS and those who’ve been lost, and trans and non-binary persons. 

The arrow of the chevron points to the right to show forward movement, while being on the left edge shows that progress still needs to be made for full equality, especially for the communities the chevron represents.