It took almost ten years after Stonewall for the LGBTQ+ Pride flag to be created and used as a symbol of hope and awareness. The rainbow colours are popularly seen during Pride month in June, and often flood the streets during Pride Parade festivals where a rainbow sea of people join together to support the LGBTQ+ community.
Originally the Pride Flag was created by Gilbert Baker, an Artist and Gay Rights activists who put together 8 rainbow colours each holding different meanings. Over time the flag has lost two of its main colours, pink was removed from the flag due to the shortage of pink coloured fabric, and then turquoise was also later dropped because people were happier with an even number of colours rather than odd.
Over time the flag has changed more and more. Variations have been made to bring awareness to various minority groups to show solidarity with those who experience prejudice due to their sexuality or gender.
The Rainbow flag has become a sign of support and many also use it as a way of recognition as being one from the LGBTQ+ community and that they are there for others who identify as so too.
Large companies have utilised the Pride flag and colours in the past to help raise awareness, although this has upset some as some feel like they are capitalising from those being oppressed rather than help bring positive recognition.
Many are currently worried that the rainbow Pride flag has lost its meaning within the UK due to it being used as a symbol to support the NHS during the fight of coronavirus. In the year of 2020 Pride flags are popping up not for the LGBTQ+ community but as a symbol of hope for the passing of the pandemic. Damian Heist, was one of the first to spread the rainbow flag for the NHS, but the design was focused on it being rainbow shaped originally, and he actively encouraged children to draw rainbow pictures to display in their windows to spread a positive message during the troubled times. Some have now adopted the pride flag as an alternative due to convivence, but when questioned are unaware of its symbol throughout LGBTQ+ history.
In 2019 the NHS designed a badge for LGBTQ+ keyworkers and health professionals to wear as a sign that they are LGBTQ+ friendly and are open to discussing any issues that patients may experience as a crossover from identifying as LGBTQ+ and their physical and mental health. However, now these badges are being used in press events by politicians to show support for the NHS rather than the LGBTQ+ community.
With thousands of people feeling uncomfortable about the use of the Pride flag being stipulated alongside the NHS fight against COVID-19, 16 year old Bella Mc monagle , has setup a petition to reclaim the rainbow flag for the LGBTQ+ community. Bella Mc monagle, rightly points out that when using rainbow colours to support the NHS they could’ve avoided using the 6 coloured Pride flag and even opted for the 7 colours of the rainbow, or displayed the colour combinations differently and in a different style flag. Many have struggled to fight for their right to use the Pride flag, where it has been known that some people have been attacked by others for displaying their Pride flag due to homophobia and discrimination. Buildings and events have been targeted in the past for displaying the flag too.
A variation of the Pride Flag was made in 2017 to bring awareness to LGBTQ+ of colour. The Philadelphia flag has added brown and black colours to the flag. After incidents of racism and racial slurs occurred within the the confines of many of the cities Gay bars making the environment particularly discriminatory towards those of colour who identify as LGBTQ+. The addition of the two colours were added in hope of acceptance for those of colour and make the LGBTQ+ scene more welcoming and positive.
There are other flags used by those who identify more with one particular gender or sexuality, some binary and others non-binary. Each have different colours with significant meanings to them. An example of this is the Genderfluid Pride Flag that consists of pink for femininity, white for no gender, purple where masculinity and femininity and other genders are combined, and blue for masculinity.
There are loads of flags to help express your identity and the Vagina Museum has a selection of Pride Flag stickers you can buy and stick on things like your phone and laptop to bring a ray of hope to you and your LGBTQ+ friends.