The first Pride flag was waved in the air for the first time in 1978, becoming a lasting symbol of queer joy, love, and freedom. It was hand sewn by artist and activist Gilbert Baker, who was urged by other activists at the time to create a flag to symbolize the community. This led to the first iteration of the Pride flag, containing 8 different colored stripes to represent various aspects. Pink represented sex, red with life, orange stood for healing, yellow equals sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic and art, indigo with serenity, and violet symbolized the spirit of queer community.

After the assassination of gay rights icon Harvey Milk, the Pride flag was in huge demand. Because of this high demand, the stripes of hot pink and turquoise were removed because of manufacturing shortages. This then created the traditional Pride flag that we know of today, including 6 different colored stripes.

As time passed, the Pride flag has had many variations to its design to emphasize particular aspects. For instance during the height of the AIDS epidemic, some Pride flags included a black stripe to represent those who have passed fighting their battle with the disease.

In 2017 in Philadelphia, the addition of black and brown stripes were included to symbolize marginalized communities and people of color. Additionally, some Pride flags will have the inclusion of black and white stripes to represent the asexual community. There are also Pride flags specific to certain communities, such as with the presence of the Bisexual, Lesbian, Trans, and Intersex flags. 

The transformation of the Pride flag over time serves as a testament representing the immense strength and resilience of the queer community. The variations of the flags showcase the diverse nature of the community, intersecting with other modes of identity such as race and class. The evolution of the presence of these symbols of hope highlights the work done to get us where we are today, but also emphasizes the work that still needs to be done. The transformation of the flag also serves as prime evidence for the intersectional nature of sexuality, directly intertwining with other various aspects of identity. These flags remain a staple in embodying queer pride, fostering notions of inclusion and acceptance as they flutter through the air. 

Blog written by intern Maggie C. (she/her) who recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelors of Arts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She has a large passion for spreading positive sexuality education across communities, and plans to eventually become a Marriage and Family therapist with a specialty in sex therapy.

Graphics created by intern Hannah C. (they/them) who is a psychology major at the University of Vermont with an interest in how sexual expression engages with societal norms, specifically through existing power structures, such as gender and race.