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Was Pride always a colourful celebration? The origins of Pride and the rainbow flag

By Emily Huxtable - 12th June 2023

Explore Where Pride Came From and How It Has Developed Into a Worldwide Colourful Celebration

Diversity has not always been celebrated. But, years of activism have led to a month-long celebration of the minorities that make up the LGBTQIA+ community. These groups get together every year, in cities across the globe, in the name of Pride.

 

Streets are embellished with every shade of the rainbow. With the groups that make up the community only getting bigger, Pride has now grown into a month full of adoration, appreciation and support for the LGBTQIA+ community. But, to truly celebrate Pride Month, we believe it’s important to understand the reality of how Pride came to be. This vibrant display that we know today has not always been celebrated. So, Pride became an event that cannot be ignored.

Was Pride always a colourful celebration?

Pride originates from a tumultuous time for the LGBTQIA+ community. A time in which the community could not openly express their sexuality, gender or identity. A time in which pride was shunned.

 

This now-global occasion can be dated back to one specific event that took place in New York City in the late 1960s. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community often resided in the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar where individuals could go and indulge in a taste of social freedom. But, gay clubs were often raided by police at this time and LGBTQIA+ individuals would be unjustly sent to jail.  One night in June 1969, however, the community that resided in Stonewall had had enough. So, they revolted. This led to 6 days of rioting.

On the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, thousands gathered outside the original inn and paraded through the streets of New York City. This became known as the first-ever Pride parade! This incredible catalyst for the gay rights movement has had a powerful impact on the structure of Pride today. Whilst marching through the streets, the chant, ‘Say it loud, gay is proud!’ rang through New York City. This set the tone for the annual event that Pride has become.

Rainbow Accessories During a Pride Parade

Where did the Rainbow Pride Flag come from?

At first, Pride was more of a protest than a celebration. It took almost ten years of parades for the iconic rainbow flag that we know and love to be introduced to the streets.

Created to be flown during the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade in 1978, this flag featured a rainbow of 7 colours. This was the first colourful representation of what it means to be a member of the community. A visual display of what it means to be loud and proud!

The Original Seven Stripe Pride Flag Created By Gilbert Baker
The Commonly Used Rainbow Pride Flag Used for Gay Pride

This original flag had pink and turquoise in a seven-stripe design but was redesigned due to manufacturing difficulties. Pink was removed and turquoise was replaced with blue to create the rainbow flag we recognise today. Commonly used as the Gay Pride flag, this revised design has become the universal symbol of the LGBTQIA+ community.

 

Gradually, more and more colourful variations of LGBTQIA+ love and presentation have popped up over the years.  In the hopes of increasing inclusivity and community, these vibrant visualisations of identity are now used worldwide. As more identities are labelled and groups are formed, the amazing influx of Pride flags is continuing to grow, showing the vast variety of love and identity to be found within the community.

What do other Pride flags mean?

This uniquely coloured flag has become a true symbol of transgender identity. Featuring rows of blue, pink and white, they come together to form a structure that remains the same whichever way it’s flown. The use of blue represents the stereotypical colour for boys, pink represents the stereotypical shade for girls and white stands for everything in between. It is a space for those who are transitioning, agender, gender non-conforming and intersex.

The Transgender Pride Flag in Shades of Blue, Pink and White
Sunset Lesbian Pride Flag with Shades of Orange, Red and Pink

This vibrant collection of colours is the latest edition of the Lesbian Pride flag. Created in 2018, this sunset flag takes inspiration from a previous version that only included shades of pink and red. Valuing the importance of visibility of masculine-presenting and non-binary lesbians, an array of oranges have replaced the previous shades of pink.

Boasting shades of pink, purple and blue, this flag is a wonderful reflection of the bisexual community. With pink representing same-sex attraction and blue resembling attraction to the opposite sex, the centre marries these ideas together. The use of purple represents attraction to two or more genders.

Bisexual Pride Flag with Shades of Pink, Purple and Blue
Asexual Pride Flag with Purple, White, Grey and Black

This bold flag features a greyscale highlighted with purple. Created by the asexual community, this interesting visualisation resembles asexuality and its vast spectrum. Black is used to represent asexuality. The grey resembles the area between sexuality and asexuality, whilst the white represents sexuality. The purple finishes this flag off with the idea of community.

Encasing a backdrop of vibrant yellow, the intersex flag holds a minimal, dichromatic design. The centre of the flag is complete with a hollowed, purple circle. The use of the gender-neutral tones of yellow and purple helps to show the exclusion of gendered stereotypes from intersex identity. Intersex has long been a misunderstood, erased and oppressed label. The circle helps to represent the wholeness of intersex individuals.

Intersex Pride Flag Detailing a Yellow Background with a Purple Hollow Circle
Progress Pride Flag with the Gay Pride Flag Featuring a Triangle of Brown, Black, Blue, Pink and White Stripes and the Intersex Flag

Due to the ever-changing social landscape and struggle of LGBTQIA+ transgender, intersex and people of colour, this updated Progress Pride flag was made as a visual representation of solidarity. Enclosed in a triangle on the side of the flag, it helps to show the intersectionality and interconnectedness of the community as a whole.

The journey of Pride through the years and the blossoming of these beautiful visualisations of love and identity shows how far we have come. Protests and presentations have changed into parties and parades where people come together and embrace diversity, all in celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community.

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