Symbols of Pride for the LGBT Community

Black Triangle:  Once emblazoned on the uniform of prostitutes and lesbians by Nazis in the concentration camps.  Now the black triangle is worn to honor the women previously persecuted.

Freedom Rings or Freedom Triangles:  Rings or triangles in the colors of the rainbow flag, worn as a necklace or bracelet as a symbol of pride.

Lambda sign:  The 11th letter in the Greek alphabet, Lambda is a universal gay icon.

Pink Triangle:  The symbolism of the pink triangle dates back to World War II, when Jews were forced by the Nazis to wear a yellow Star of David on their coats.  Homosexuals, many of whom were also put to death in the concentration camps, were forced to wear pink triangles.  The pink triangle has since been adopted by the LGBT community as a symbol of the fight against oppression and for total acceptance.  Today the pink triangle is worn as a symbol of pride, thus redefining a symbol once used for persecution.

Rainbow Flag:  In 1978, when San Francisco was grieving the assassinations of Harvey Milk, the city’s first openly gay Supervisor, and Mayor George Moscone, the organizing committee for “Speak Out for Justice” called for the development of a permanent symbol which could be used by gay men and lesbians celebrating and saluting their community.  San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker, inspired by the five-striped “Flag of Races” (red, black, brown, yellow, and white), designed a Rainbow Flag.  A crew of artists hand-made and dyed the first eight-striped Rainbow Flags, which made their debut at the 1978 Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day March in San Francisco.  The eight-colored flag was affectionately called “New Glory,” and was enthusiastically cheered by thousands of people who lined the streets.

     The original eight colors were pink for sexuality, red for light, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for natural serenity, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit.  In 1979 the Paramount Flag Company introduced the six-striped flag through its outlet, the Flag Store.  Over the years, the Rainbow Flag has gone through many permutations.  Popular sentiment, however, has kept the current six-color flag in prominence:  red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  The brilliant six-stripe flag represents the diversity of the lesbian/gay community and the hope for unification encompassing all its diversity.

     The Rainbow Flag has been an internationally accepted lesbian and gay symbol since it was first accepted by the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Pride Coordinators in 1985.  Today one can see “lesbian and gay rainbows” in cities throughout the United States and abroad, a unique and beautiful banner displaying rightful pride in its heritage and its legacy.

Adapted from Breaking the Silence.  Final Report of the Select Committee on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns, University of Minnesota, November 1, 1993.