Most people know
what the LGBTQ+ pride flag looks like. The six-color rainbow flag shows up everywhere during LGBTQ+ pride month in June (sometimes with a few extra colors). If you're in a city, you'll likely see rainbows in shop windows, and no matter where you live, you'll probably run across a few rainbow-washed logos from your favorite brands on social media during Pride month. But show up to a Pride parade, and it's more than just the rainbow flag that you'll see. The rainbow is only one of many.
While the rainbow flag works as a general flag for
all LGBTQ+ people, other parts of the queer community — transgender people, asexual people, bisexual people, genderqueer people, and more — have created their own flags. Separate flags are necessary so that non-queer people and even queer people who aren't a part of those groups can recognize that LGBTQ+ doesn't just mean gay — it means pansexual, non-binary, intersex, and many more identities that fall after the 'Q' in the acronym. As Monica Helms, creator of the transgender pride flag, put it, “I say the rainbow flag is like the American flag: everybody’s underneath that. But each group, like each state, has their own individual flag.”
The flags also give communities a sense of pride. And visible symbols of pride and support can be powerful, as LGBTQ+ activists know well. We can think of no better way to celebrate every facet of the LGBTQ+ community than by letting all of their flags fly. Read on to see what each LGBTQ+ flag looks like, and the important sexual orientations and gender identities they represent.
was created in 1998 by Michael Page, who wanted to boost the visibility of bisexual people outside of the greater LGBTQ+ community.
first popped up in 2010, and is used to distinguish pansexual people from bisexual people. Although some pansexual people may also call themselves bisexual, the "pan" implies attraction to more than two genders. So, the pan-pride flag uses pink for people on the female-spectrum, blue for people on the male-spectrum, and yellow for non-binary or genderqueer people.
Lipstick lesbian flag
The lesbian flag or
lipstick lesbian flag
was designed by Natalie McCray in 2010. The original version featured a pink lip print in the left-hand corner, but the version without the lip print is now more widely used. Some lesbians oppose the use of this flag because
includes racist, biphobic, and transphobic comments, and because the pink colors and "
" terminology don't include
A number of other designs have been suggested
, however, there isn't a consensus about which one to use and McCray's design remains the most popular.
Labrys lesbian flag
Labrys lesbian flag
also has a less-than-ideal origin: it was designed by a cis man, graphic designer Sean Campbell, in 1999. It's based on
, a double-headed axe associated with the Amazons in mythology — lesbians began using the Labrys as a symbol of lesbian feminism beginning in the 1970s.
The black triangle represents the triangle that Nazis forced those labeled "asocial" — including lesbians — to wear in concentration camps, while the color purple is traditionally associated with queer women, dating back to the poet Sappho's use of violets when talking about romantic love for women.
In the summer of 2010, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network along with other asexual leaders got together to design the
asexual pride flag
so they could "have a symbol that belongs to all of us." Each color has a meaning: Black for asexuality (feeling no sexual attraction), grey for grey-asexuality and demisexuality (feeling sexual attraction only sometimes), white for non-asexual partners and allies, and purple for community.
is similar to the asexual flag and agender flag. The green and light green stripes cover everyone under the aromantic spectrum, while represents nonromantic forms of love and attraction, and the gray and black represent all sexualities under the aromantic spectrum.
A transgender woman and Navy veteran named Monica Helms created the transgender flag in 1999. “The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls,"
Helms once said
. "The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning, or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.”
Marilyn Roxie made the
in 2010, and then finalized the design in 2011. They made the flag with stripes of color similar to other LGBTQ+ flags, and chose the colors to represent different genderqueer identities: Lavender, a mixture of blue and pink to represent androgynes and androgyny, white to represent agender identity, and green, the inverse of lavender, to represent all those who fall outside of the gender binary.
People of color-inclusive flag
In 2017, a Philadelphia-based activist group called More Color More Pride
added black and brown stripes
to the top of the traditional LGBTQ+ flag to remind the queer community to be inclusive of people of color.
The intersex flag was invented by Morgan Carpenter in 2013, to represent wholeness and simplicity. “The circle is unbroken and un-ornamented, symbolizing wholeness and completeness, and our potentialities,"
Carpenter has said
. "We are still fighting for bodily autonomy and genital integrity, and this symbolizes the right to be who and how we want to be.”
Created in 2012 by JJ Poole, the
has a pink stripe for femininity, a blue stripe for masculinity, a purple stripe for both masculinity and femininity, a black stripe for lack of gender, and a white stripe for all genders.
Agender flag Around since 2014 thanks to designer Salem X or "Ska," the agender flag is reversible similar to the transgender flag so that it's correct no matter how it flies. The black and white stripes represent complete absence of gender, grey represents being semi-genderless, and green represents non-binary gender. Non-binary flag Seventeen year old activist Kye Rowan created the non-binary flag in 2014 because many non-binary people felt that the genderqueer flag didn't represent them well. Rowan's flag uses: Yellow for those whose gender exists outside of and without reference to the binary, white for those who have many or all genders, purple for those who feel their gender is between or a mix of female and male, and black for those who feel they are without gender. Polysexual flag
is very similar to the pansexual flag, with green replacing yellow but still indicating attraction to people with non-binary gender identities. Polysexual people are different from pansexual people because they may not be attracted to all genders at once, but are attracted to many genders.
was designed by Tony DeBlase in 1989. It's used as a symbol of the leather community, which is predominantly made up of gay men. Although DeBlase said the interpretation was up to the viewer, some say that the black represents leather; the blue represents devotion, loyalty, and community; the white represents purity and innocence; and the red heart represents love for the community.
was designed by Craig Byrnes and Paul Witzkoske in 1995 to represent the
— a subculture of masculine-presenting gay, bisexual and trans men who embrace facial and body hair and may have larger bodies. Byrnes and Witzkoskie made four variations and had friends from the bear community vote for the winning design — this one. The seven colors represent the colors of
(the animal) around the world.