Beyond the Rainbow: Your Guide to LGBT Flags

When the rainbow is not enough.

The rainbow flag has been a symbol of the LGBT community since 1978, when Gilbert Baker's design first appeared in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.

More recently, advocates in Philadelphia added brown and black stripes to symbolize queer people of color, which has sparked its own debate.

But there's more than the rainbow: You probably recognize the transgender pride flag—but what about the bisexual, asexual, and pansexual pride flags?

Below, we share some notable banners from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality.

Rainbow Flag


The most widely recognized symbol of the LGBT community, the rainbow flag has had multiple iterations: The original design by the late Gilbert Baker had eight stripes—

Hot pink (sex), red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), turquoise (magic/art), indigo (serenity) and violet (spirit). As certain dyes were harder to acquire, it evolved into the common six-stripe flag we know today.

Transgender Flag


Designed by trans woman Monica Helms in 1999, the blue-pink-and-white banner made its official debut at a 2000 Pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona.

"The light blue is the traditional color for baby boys, pink is for girls, and the white in the middle is for those who are transitioning, those who feel they have a neutral gender or no gender, and those who are intersexed," Helms explained. "The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it will always be correct. This symbolizes us trying to find correctness in our own lives."

Pansexual Flag


The pansexual pride flag is a brainchild of mid-2010s Internet users. Its three colors—pink, yellow, and blue—represent women, non-binary and/or gender-nonconforming individuals, and men, respectively.

Intersex Flag


Designed by the Organization Intersex International Australia in 2013, the intersex pride flag purposely uses non-gendered colors yellow and purple to disassociate the flag from binary gender identities.

Bisexual Flag


Designed by Michael Page, the bisexual flag borrows its colors from an older symbol of bisexuality: two overlapping pink and dark blue triangles, nicknamed "the biangles."

Asexual Flag


The ace flag, which debuted in 2010, also features colors from another LGBT symbol: the logo of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). It's a triangle fading from white to black, symbolizing the spectrum of ace identities, including gray asexuals and demisexuals.

Agender Flag


The agender flag has a very interesting colorstory: the black and white stripes represent an absence of gender, while the green stripe represents non-binary genders, since the hue is the inverse of purple.

Non-Binary Flag


The non-binary flag was designed by 17-year-old Kye Rowan in 2014. Like the intersex flag, its non-gendered colors are also meant to distance the symbol from binary gender identities.

Bear Flag


The bear brotherhood flag was designed in 1995 by Craig Byrnes for the International Bear Brotherhood. The colors are meant to represent the fur of actual bears around the world.

Leather Pride Flag

Tony DeBlase designed the Leather Pride flag in 1989, and it debuted that year at Chicago's International Mister Leather event. While it's widely associated with the queer leather scene, it's not an exclusively gay symbol and has been embraced by the larger leather and BDSM community. DeBlase said he wanted to leave interpretation of the flag—alternating black and blue stripes, with a white central stripe and a large red heart—up to the viewer.

The original flag is on display at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago.

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