If you’ve been a part of the pride walk, you also must have witnessed beautiful flying flags in pink and rainbow in the air.
But if you’re wondering,
Which flag is the best representation of the lesbian community?
The answer is there is no official lesbian flag yet, but some are becoming increasingly popular.
Flags are important because they embody the ideals of a community, whether that is the pride or beauty of a nation.
This article explores the history of the lesbian flag and how lesbian flags are a symbol of the oppressed being empowered.
History Of The Oldest Lesbian Flag – Labrys Flag
This flag was made by a graphic designer called Sean Campbell. The Labrys Flag was published in the Palms Spring June 2000 edition of the Gay and Lesbian Times Pride Issue.
Sean Campbell came up with this design by including a violet/lavender background. This was inspired by the poem, ‘I Have Not Had One Word From Her’ from the lines- ‘all the violet tiaras, braided rosebuds, dill and crocus twined around your young neck’. As a result of the fame of this poem, lesbians in the 1920s adopted violet as their symbol. They used to gift the violet flower to their female friends.
In 1969, the President of the National Organization of Women claimed that lesbians were hurting the feminist cause and term lesbians ‘the lavender menace’. The term ‘lavender menace’ became popular in pop culture, where lesbians were seen publicly sporting T-shirts with these words.
‘The Labry’ is a double-headed ax. We can trace this symbol back to the times of Ancient Greece. The labrys was associated with female Goddesses. Lesbian groups adopted the labrys in the 1960s as a symbol of empowerment.
Lesbianflaghistory.tumblr.com traced the first appearance of the Labrys Flag online, credited to a blog post titled, ‘The Queerstory Files’ in June 2012.
The criticism of this flag is that it was not made by a lesbian but instead by a gay man, Sean Campbell. Another criticism of the Labrys Flag is that it has been claimed by TERF which is an acronym for a trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
Sunset Lesbian Flag
The orange-pink blend or the sunset flag is one of the newest variations designed in 2018 by blogger Emily Gwen on Tumblr. This flag unlike the other variants empowered each lesbian including the trans.
Talking about the color of the flag, the flag features seven stripes from dark orange to dusty pink.
Each color has a different meaning: Dark orange represents gender non-conformity; Orange represents independence; Light orange is for the lesbian community; White represents unique relationships with womanhood; Pink is for serenity and peace; Dusty pink is for love and sex, and Dark rose represents femininity.
The flag isn’t without criticism either; some lesbians feel that femininity shouldn’t be a part of lesbian identity, since not all lesbians present as feminine.
Nonbinary Lesbian flag
Non-Binary people have a gender identity that doesn’t fit within the traditional male/female binary. Some non-binary people identify as ‘agender’ which means they don’t feel they have a gender at all, while others may identify as both male and female, or somewhere between the two.
Yellow: Represents those whose gender falls outside of and without reference to the binary.
White: Represents people with many or all genders.
Purple: Represents those whose gender identity falls somewhere between male/female or is a mix of them.
Black: Represents people who feel they are without gender.
This flag was not created to replace the Genderqueer flag, but to fly alongside it in support of genderfluid and non-binary people.
Which is the most common lesbian pride flag?
The shade of pink is one of the most widely seen lesbian flags during the pride walk.
Pink Lipstick Lesbian Flags:
Lipstick Lesbian Flag
Natalie Mcrae created this flag on July 28th, 2010, and posted it on her blog- this lesbianlife.wordpress.com.
The Lipstick Lesbian Flag represents the lipstick lesbian subculture which dates back to the 1980s and became popular in the 1990s. A lipstick lesbian was a female who flaunted her lipstick, wore heels and short skirts, and was socially desirable. People see a lipstick lesbian as a white female who is conventionally attractive and thin. These qualities make her socially acceptable.
The lipstick lesbian movement was a rejection of feminist activists and the lavender menace lesbian community of the 1970s.
This flag is controversial as it excludes Androgynous Lesbians and Butch Lesbians. By doing so, it also excludes women who identify themselves as non-feminine. Here, unity under this flag would be a socially accepted lesbian lady identifying with her own type.
Pink Lesbian Flag
The Pink Lesbian Flag is one of the common lesbian flags you’ll find online.
Featuring shades of pink, white and red, this flag has become a well-known symbol used by the lesbian community. However, some people feel it only represents lipstick lesbians or femme lesbians, while others argue that it is butch-phobic due to its original version. This version appeared in 2010 and featured a lipstick mark in its top left-hand corner.
In 2015, deviantart.com posted a flag similar to the Lipstick Lesbian flag ie. the flag copies the colors of the Lipstick Lesbian Flag but excludes the ‘kiss’ symbol. The following year the Pink Lesbian Flag became popular through the blogging platform, Tumblr.
The concern was that the lipstick flag only represented feminine lesbians. The lipstick flag was criticized because it did not include any other notable symbols from the lesbian community, like butch lesbians or androgynous women.
Blue Version of the lesbian pride flag – Butch Lesbian Flag
The Butch Lesbian Flag or the blue version of the lesbian flag was created in 2016. Unlike the pink flag, the butch lesbian pride flag has colors:
Purple: Use to symbolized lesbians or women loving women.
Blue: This represents masculinity.
White: A color that represents all women and sexuality.
The butch lesbian pride flag was designed by a lesbian-identified woman named Dorian Rutherford and it has been used as a symbol of representation by many butches and non-femme lesbians ever since.
Radesky explains that some butch people felt left out of the lipstick lesbian flag and this flag was the response to the same.
In 2017, a second butch lesbian pride flag was created by a moderator from the Tumblr page Butch Space. The second flag moves away from the blues and purples displayed in the original butch pride flag and instead uses reds, oranges, and browns to honor different types of lesbians.
Each color has an assigned meaning: red symbolizes ‘passion and sexuality’, red-orange represents ‘courage’, light orange honors ‘joy’, white symbolizes ‘renewal’ while beige represents ‘chivalry’. Orange signifies ‘warmth’ while brown stands for ‘honesty’, according to a Tumblr post by the creator.
Emily Gwen: Orange Lesbian Flag
The creator of the Orange Flag is Emily Gwen. The flag was displayed via her Twitter profile (@theemilygwen) on June 3rd, 2018. The Orange Flag is a combination of the Pink Lesbian Flag and the Butch Lesbian Flag.
Emily Gwen states that her ideal lesbian pride flag would be a pink one and the orange one flowing into each other. Like the top half of the pink one and the bottom half of the orange half. Or, the orange on top, just to shake things up and to subvert the idea that femininity should come first.
Emily Gwen describes the flag through its colors:
Red for ‘Gender Non-conformity
Dark Orange for ‘Independence’
Light Orange for ‘Community’
White for ‘Unique Relationships to Womanhood’
Light Purple for ‘Serenity and Peace
Dark Purple for ‘Love and Sex’
Tyrian Purple for ‘Feminity’
Double Venus Pride Lesbian Flag
The Venus symbol has been used to represent the female sex for centuries, since ancient times when the planet Venus was thought to be the brightest and most visible of the planets in the sky. The symbol’s use in lesbian pride is rooted in its prominence as a symbol for women’s identity.
This flag is commonly seen at Pride parades and festivals (as well as Dyke Marches), and is meant to represent lesbian pride.
Is there a particular lesbian flag?
Universally speaking there is no Lesbian Flag but the various lesbian flags try their best to represent the lesbian community around the world.
Pride flags are a great way to show your support for the LGBTQ community, and they’re also a great way to raise awareness.
The rainbow flag is so iconic that it’s hard to imagine how people could have ever been afraid of it, that is, before its creation.
The rainbow pride flag was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978. It represents the LGBTQ+ community year-round but is especially visible during Pride Month when it flies outside shop windows and can be seen on t-shirts, brand labels, and food packaging.
However, very few people are aware of the history of the lesbian pride flag.
Every individual needs to be embraced, honored, and paid respect by every generation and make them more recognizable for the younger generations that will grow up in an inclusive world of acceptance.
By: Kajal Agarwal