Most people know what the LGBTQ+ pride flag looks like. The six-color rainbow flag shows up everywhere during LGBTQ+ pride month in June. 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, it tends to be equated to just gay or lesbian pride. And so, 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.
The flags also give communities a sense of pride. And visible symbols of pride and support can be powerful, as LGBTQ+ activists know well. LGBTQ+ activist group GLAAD relies on the power of symbolism, and during Spirit Day, on October 18 the organization asks everyone to wear purple to show speak out against LGBTQ+ bullying and show support for LGBTQ+ youth. While it's not a flag, per se, wearing purple accomplishes the same goal as waving one of the many LGBTQ+ flags: It's a way to "visibly show solidarity with LGBTQ youth," the organization says.