You may be familiar with the double Venus and double Mars designs, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to symbols representing the LGBTQ+ community. Some of these symbols, such as violets and green carnations, originated as a secret way for the wearers to indicate their sexuality — similar to handkerchief code. Others, such as the P-shaped pansexual symbol, are intended to be more easily interpreted. Some of these symbols, like violets, have been used for millennia, while others, like the trans feminist symbol, have been in place for less than 20 years. Whatever the origin, these symbols are ways for the LGBTQ+ community to show their pride.
Gilbert Baker, who created the Pride flag and popularised the rainbow as a symbol for the LGBTQ+ community, wrote in his memoir that the queer community needed a new symbol after the pink triangle of Nazi Germany. "[The pink triangle] represented a dark chapter in the history of same-sex rights. Adolf Hitler conceived the pink triangle during World War II as a stigma placed on homosexuals in the same way the Star of David was used against Jews. It functioned as a Nazi tool of oppression," he wrote in his memoir. "We all felt that we needed something that was positive, that celebrated our love."
Many of the other designs come from a similar place — a need for a positive, celebratory symbol of a community, whether for the LGBTQ+ community as a whole or a more specific subset, like the pansexual community. Keep an eye out for these symbols, as well as others, this Pride month. You’ll likely see them on flags, banners, patches, pins, and T-shirts.