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Your Guide to LGBTQ+ Pride Flags

Updated: Jun 3

We decode 13 flags you may see flying during Pride Month.

Updated June 3, 2024

Traditional Pride Flag

The classic rainbow flag, long associated with the gay rights movement, has come to represent the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and other identity community (LGBTQ+) at large.

And like the American flag, the Traditional Pride Flag has evolved over the last 46 years. It was originally designed in 1978 by Army veteran and gay activist Gilbert Baker. San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, commissioned Baker to design the flag. Inspired by Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow,” Baker's first flag, which debuted at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, initially had two more stripes: pink and turquoise. Pink was eventually removed because the colored material was hard to come by the flags began to be mass-produced. Turquoise was cut to create an equal number of stripes, the six-striped flag that's become the classic. What the colors stand for: red = life; orange = healing; yellow = sunlight; green = nature; indigo = serenity; violet = spirit.


“Progress” Pride Flag

Portland, Ore., designer Daniel Quasar called this a “reboot” of the original Pride flag on his Kickstarter page where he’s raised more than $25,000 to bring his updated Pride flag to fruition. The Traditional Pride Flag got a mini-redesign when the Philadelphia City Council commissioned a flag for the city's 2017 Pride event that included brown and black stripes at the top to represent communities of color and racism. Quasar’s reboot includes those ideas, plus people living with and dying from AIDS and the trans community flag colors. The arrow shape and positioning is equally significant. “The arrow points to the right to show forward movement, while being along the left edge shows that progress still needs to be made,” Quasar said on his Kickstarter.

What the colors stand for: white, pink, blue = trans community flag; brown = LGBTQ+ communities of color; black = racism and AIDS.


Lesbian Flag

There have been many versions of flags representing lesbians. One design repurposed the symbol that the Nazis forced lesbians to wear during the Holocaust. Another featured a cheeky lipstick kiss that alienated “butch” lesbians. This flag, according to Human Rights Campaign, found favor and has been in use since 2018.

“Despite featuring prominently in the [LGBTQ+] acronym, lesbians too have been made to feel unwelcome and uncomfortable in 'gay' spaces, where unchecked misogyny is allowed to fester,” Carrie Lyell, editor of DIVA magazine told Cosmopolitan magazine. DIVA is Europe's best-selling magazine for lesbians and bi women. “That’s just one of the reasons that having our own colours is important."

What the colors stand for: dark orange = gender non-conformity; orange = independence and freedom; light orange = community; white = unique relationships to womanhood; light pink = serenity and peace; pink = love and sex; dark pink = femininity.


Bisexual Flag

Designed by activist Michael Page in 1998, the bisexual flag was made to better represent the bisexual community — people who are attracted to both men and women. The flag was designed with an intentional overlap of the traditional colors for males and females, signifying the attraction to both. What the colors stand for: pink = same-sex attraction; purple = attraction to both sexes; blue = opposite-sex attraction.


Love really is love. Happy Pride!


Transgender Flag

This flag represents the trans (a.k.a. transgender) community — people whose sense of self isn't reflected by their physical characteristics. The flag was designed in 1999 by transgender woman and Navy veteran Monica Helms and debuted at the Phoenix Pride Parade in 2000. Helms designed the flag to be symmetrical so that it doesn't matter which way the flag is flown. She has said, “It is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.”

In 2014, Helms donated her original flag to the Smithsonian National Museum of History.

What the colors stand for: light blue = traditional baby boy color; light pink = traditional baby girl color; white = intersex, transitioning or gender-neutral.


Asexual Flag

Created by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) for the purpose of “hav[ing] a symbol that belongs to all of us,” the flag was inspired by the network’s logo, an inverted triangle that is white at the top, transitioning to gray and then black at the tip.

What the colors stand for: black = asexuality or feeling no sexual attraction; gray = "graysexuality," or occasional sexual attraction and demisexuality, attraction with emotional connection; white = sexuality; purple = community.


Genderfluid Flag

Created by J.J. Poole in 2012, this flag represents those that do not identify with a single gender but rather a gender identity that can fluctuate between male, female or elsewhere on the gender spectrum under various circumstances. What the colors stand for: pink = femininity; white = no gender; purple = femininity and masculinity; black = all genders; blue = masculinity.


Nonbinary Flag

Seventeen-year-old activist Kye Rowan wanted a flag that better represented the non-gender-conforming community, so he designed this flag in 2014. People in the non-binary community don’t always identify as male or female. According to Human Rights Campaign, nonbinary people may identify "being both man and woman, somewhere in between or as falling completely outside of these categories."

Nonbinary people may be transgender, but not always. They

usually prefer using the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them” rather than “he” or “she.” What the colors stand for: yellow = genders beyond the male/female gender binary; white = those that identify with many or all genders; purple = genders that blur the line between male and female or combine the two; black = those that don’t identify with any gender (a.k.a. agender).


Pansexual Flag

No one’s quite sure who designed this flag, which popped up online around 2010. It flies for those who are all about connecting with people of every stripe: men, women, trans men, trans women, people who don’t identify with either gender and people who identify with every gender. Actor Dan Levy’s fictional character on Schitt’s Creek summed it up in what is quite possibly the best explanation of pansexuality when he said, “I like the wine, not the label.”

What the colors stand for: magenta = attraction to those who identify as female; cyan = attraction to those who identify as male; yellow = attraction to those who identify as both or neither.


Gay Men’s Pride Flag

As Gilbert Baker's rainbow flag came to represent, not only gay men, but all the sexual, nonsexual and gender identities in the LGBTQ+ big tent community, the men decided they wanted their own flag to distinguish their specific community.

This is the second iteration of the flag. The first had blue, green and white stripes. The green and blue color gradations were added later to represent trans gay men, intersex and gender nonconforming men. 

What the colors stand for: Blue and purple = love and diversity; white = transgender, gender-nonconforming and nonbinary individuals; green and turquoise = healing and community.


Genderqueer Flag

Designed by artist and activist Marilyn Roxie in June 2011, the genderqueer flag "help(s) create visibility for the genderqueer community and related identities," according to the site It represents those whose identity lies outside the male or female binary. Originally the flag represented the nonbinary community too, but as it became more associated with the genderqueer community, those in the nonbinary community created their own flag in 2014 (above).

What the colors stand for: lavender = androgyny; white = gender neutrality; green = beyond the gender binary.


Intersex Flag

Morgan Carpenter, PhD, of Intersex Human Rights Australia, designed the Intersex Flag in 2013 to create a positive image for the community represented the ongoing fight for "bodily autonomy and genital integrity."

[On his site, Carpenter explains that intersex individual are born with physical sex characteristics that "don't fit medical norms for female or male bodies." These can be identified in utero, at birth, at puberty or when trying to conceive. His organization advocates against early

medical intervention and sex assignment before an individual is old enough to determine what they want and how they want to shape their own sexual and gender identity.]

As for the flag, Carpenter said in a video on his site. that he "wanted it to be colorful and vivid and stand out and look different from everyone's. But I also wanted something to have real meaning,"

He chose bold yellow and purple because those colors have no gender associations, and at the same time they are bold, encouraging people to be out and proud. The circle symbolizes wholeness, completeness. "That's important because intersex people still suffer many human rights violations. It symbolizes our own right to make our own decisions about our own bodies," he said."

What the colors stand for: yellow = bold visibility; purple = diversity.


Drag Pride Flag

Drag's first flag — known as the "feather pride" flag — was created by artist Sean Campbell in 1999 and featured a phoenix, a symbol of the rebirth performers experience through their art.

Then in 2016, the Austin International Drag Festival put out a worldwide call for entries for a contest to capture the essence of drag in a flag.

Veranda L'Ni's design (pictured) was the winner.

What the colors stand for: Purple stripe = the passion drag performers share; white = the “blank slate” that performers are before they transform into their characters; blue = self expression and loyalty; pink crown = leadership; stars = the various forms of drag performance.

Lucy Dillon and Norine Dworkin contributed to this story.


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