United Colours of Pride: Decoding the LGBT flag

  • Etti Bali, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 01, 2016 15:10 IST
Activists waving the LGBT pride flag. (Manoj Verma/HT)

If you always wondered what the LGBT rainbow flag meant, here we help you decode it. As June — which is celebrated as the LGBT pride month — draws to a close, we speak to some members and activists from the community to understand what the flag represents.

The original flag had eight stripes, but in its current form, it has six, namely red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), blue (harmony) and violet (spirit).

Activists and participants at the recently held Gurgaon’s first pride parade. (Manoj Verma/HT)

The design of the flag is credited to Gilbert Baker, who designed it when, in the year 1977. The flag was first used in 1978 at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade.

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Ashok Row Kavi, activist and founder of the Humsafar Trust, says, “During the Stonewall Riots in New York, the activists decided on choosing the colours of the rainbow as they could mean to represent all sexualities.” Echoing this sentiment, Harish Iyer, an equal rights activist, says, “I believe that the flag is about all cultures and each colour represents all shades of the human personality.”

‘Acceptance’ is a sentiment that resonates across the community. (Abhinav Saha/HT)

Rafiul Alom Rahman, LGBT activist and founder of DU Queer Collective, says, “Just like the rainbow is a spectrum of colours, our flag is a spectrum of all sexualities. It represents the diversity and celebrates the differences we all come with.” He says that the journey has been long and “there was not a single defining moment when the flag became the symbol for representation of the LGBT community.”

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For LGBT activist Sonal Giani, the flag is a representation of feelings. “The LGBT pride flag symbolises hope and a feeling of co-existence. It makes people like me feel like part of a larger community. Just as seeing a rainbow in the sky gives you joy, the flag also is a symbol of happiness.”

Gurgaon’s first pride parade was a celebration of the LGBT identities. (Manoj Verma/HT)

Activist and Acharya Mahamandaleshwar of Kinnar Akhada, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, has a message for the society. “I want people to accept us the way we are. That is what the flag stands for,” she says.

What the colours denote

1. Red : Life
2. Orange : Healing
3. Yellow : Sunlight
4. Green : Nature
5. Blue : Art/Harmony
6. Violet : Spirit

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