|What does our logo mean?|
It is a
combination of various symbols, which have significance for the Gay and
See the explanations below to discover some of the history and significance of these and other gay symbols.
Other symbols of GAY Culture
(Click on symbol below to go straight to explanation)
The Rainbow Flag
The rainbow flag is perhaps the most recognizable
symbol of the gay community. Use of the rainbow flag dates back to 1978 when it
first appeared in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Parade. San
Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed the flag and, assisted by thirty
volunteers, hand-stitched and hand-dyed two giant flags for the parade.
The first Rainbow Flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco artist, who created the flag in response to a local activist's call for the need of a community symbol. (This was before the pink triangle was popularly used as a symbol of pride.) Using the five-striped "Flag of the Race" as his inspiration, Baker designed a flag with eight stripes: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. According to Baker, each colour represented a part of the community: hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit. Baker dyed and sewed the material for the first flag himself - in the true spirit of Betsy Ross. Baker soon approached San Francisco's Paramount Flag Company about mass producing and selling his "gay flag". This flag was quickly recognised as a symbol which could permanently stand for the gay community. The flag took hold, offering a colourful and optimistic alternative to the more common pink triangle symbol.
The next year Baker had the flags mass produced by the San Francisco Paramount Flag Company for the 1979 parade. It was at this time that the colours were slightly altered; production problems kept hot pink and turquoise from appearing in the commercially produced flag. Similarly, royal blue replaced indigo since the dye was more readily available. It is this six colour version that spread around the country, and soon became the well-known symbol it is today. It is officially recognised by the International Congress of Flag Makers.
In 1989, the rainbow flag received nationwide attention after John Stout successfully sued his landlords in West Hollywood, when they prohibited him from displaying the flag from his apartment balcony. Meanwhile, Baker is still in San Francisco, and still making more flags.
The largest rainbow flag ever appeared in the 1994 25th Anniversary of Stonewall Celebration, where a 30 foot wide by one mile long flag was carried down the streets of New York City. One of the most common variations on the rainbow flag is freedom rings designed by David Spada, these six aluminium rings in the colours of the rainbow flag are often seen as jewellery, found in necklaces, key chains, rings, and bracelets. Other variations include a flag with a field of blue stars similar to the American Flag, and many other flags superimposed with different gay symbols.
Colour has long played an important role in our community's expression of pride. In Victorian England, for example, the colour green was associated with homosexuality. The colour purple (or, more accurately, lavender) became popularised as a symbol for pride in the late 1960s - a frequent post-Stonewall catchword for the gay community was "Purple Power". And, of course, there's the pink triangle. Although it was first used in Nazi Germany to identify gay males in concentration camps, the pink triangle only received widespread use as a gay pop icon in the early 1980s. But the most colourful of our symbols is the Rainbow Flag, and its rainbow of colours - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple - represents the diversity of our community.
The Pink Triangle
triangle is the other most-widely recognised symbol of the gay community. The
pink triangle dates back to pre-World War II times. Although there were many
groups targeted by the Nazis, homosexuals are a group frequently left out of the
In 1935, Paragraph 175, a clause in German law that prohibited homosexual relations, was revised by Hitler to include kissing, embracing, and gay fantasies, as well as sexual acts. An estimated 25,000 convicted offenders just between the years 1937 and 1939 were sent to prison, and then on to concentration camps. At that time, the sentence was to be sterilised, usually by castration. In 1942, Hitler extended the punishment to death.
Each prisoner in the concentration camp had a coloured inverted triangle to indicate their reason for incarceration. Some of the most common included red for a political prisoner, green for a criminal, two yellow triangles for Jews, black for anti-social crimes, and a pink triangle for homosexuals.
Pink triangle prisoners were given the worst tasks, and were the focus of attacks from other prisoners, as well as prison guards. The estimates of the number of gay men killed during the Nazi regime range from 50,000 to well over 100,000. When the war ended, homosexual prisoners remained jailed, since Paragraph 175 was still the law in West Germany until its repeal, in 1969.
In the 70's, gays brought back the pink triangle as a symbol for the gay rights movement. It is an easily recognised symbol, and it serves as a constant reminder of the oppression and prejudiced faced by gays--both then and now. The pink triangle is a symbol of the phrase "Never Forget, Never Again."
The pink triangle was also adopted by ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) as their symbol. They inverted the triangle, to signify "an active fight back rather than a passive resignation to fate."
The Black Triangle
Although lesbians were not included in Paragraph 175, there is evidence that they, too, were the persecuted by the Nazis. The Nazi ideal of womanhood focused on children, the church, cooking, and the family. Thus, "black triangle" prisoners may have included lesbians, prostitutes, women who did not bear children, and women with any other "anti-social" traits. Similar to the pink triangle, the black triangle has become of symbol both of lesbian pride, and feminism.
The labrys is a double-bladed axe which comes from myth as the sceptre of the goddess Demeter (Artemis - goddess of the Earth.) Rites associated with the worship of Demeter are believed to have involved lesbian sex. The labrys has many connections to women and feminism--no one link has been clearly established as the reason it is used as a lesbian symbol. One theory suggests that it may have originally been used in battle by female Scythian warriors. Another theory notes that the axe is commonly used in many matriarchic societies. Yet another links it to the Amazon armies in Greek artwork. The Amazons ruled with a dual-queen system, and were known to ferocious and merciless in battle, but just and fair once victorious. Today, the labrys has become a symbol of lesbian and feminist strength and self-sufficiency.
Gender symbols are based on the common
astrological signs which have existed since ancient Roman times. The Venus
symbol with a cross represents the female, and the pointed Mars symbol
represents the male. Double male or female symbols have been used as obvious
symbols of gays and lesbians since the early 1970's. Double female symbols have
also been used by feminists to denote sisterhood, and triple female symbols have
been used to denote rejection of male standards of monogamy. One Male and female
symbol together were used to denote the common goals of gay males and lesbians.
In recent years, some variations on these combinations have occurred: male and female symbols together to represent heterosexual awareness, and male and female symbols off of one circle to represent the bisexual. Male and female symbols linked by the circle of a question mark has also come to represent sexual diversity.
Chosen by the New York Gay Activist Alliance in1970 as the symbol of the gay movement, the lambda is the Greek letter "L." A battle flag with the lambda was carried by a regiment of ancient Greek warriors who were accompanied in battle by their young male lovers and noted for their fierceness and willingness to fight death. This symbol was also chosen by the International Gay Rights Congress held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1974. Today, the lambda is considered to be a symbol of gay and lesbian rights.
The astrological sign of Mercury has become
the traditional symbol of transgendered people. In Greek mythology, Hermes (the
Greek version of Mercury) and Aphrodite (the goddess of love,) had a child named
Hermaphroditus. That child possessed both male and female sexual organs. This is
the root of the modern day term "hermaphrodite." Additionally, some rituals
associated with the worship of Aphrodite are believed to have involved
castration, transvestism, and homosexuality.
The symbol itself is representative of the masculine (the crescent moon at top,) the feminine (the cross at the bottom,) with the ring representing the individual, and balancing the two.