LGBTQI+ Pride Month — Changing the Landscape
By Janine Henley, OFO, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer + Special Emphasis Program Manager
June 2023 is the 53rd anniversary of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month; this year’s Pride Month theme is Changing the Landscape. The theme focuses on notable changes made to promote inclusivity and the diversity of those in the LGBTQI+ community. This year we acknowledge the progress made around the Pride flag — from the first one in 1978 to the variations seen today — and how it has become an iconic symbol of the LGBTQI+ community, representing diversity, inclusivity and equality.
The Pride flag has been a contributing factor in changing the landscape when it comes to LGBTQI+ equal rights by promoting visibility and sparking conversations about LGBTQI+ issues. Gilbert Baker, a gay rights activist, designed the first Pride flag in 1978. The flag consisted of eight colors, each representing a different aspect of the LGBTQI+ community, including sexuality, spirit and art. However, due to production challenges, the flag was eventually reduced to six colors: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for harmony and purple for spirit.
The Pride flag quickly became a symbol of LGBTQI+ rights and activism. It was first flown at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in 1978, and since then, it has been adopted by LGBTQI+ communities worldwide. Variations on the Pride flag have also been created to represent specific identities and communities within the greater LGBTQI+, such as race, gender identity or persons with HIV/AIDS. One version of the Progress Pride flag is on display at the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum in the United Kingdom.
This design was developed in 2018 by Daniel Quasar, an American artist and designer who identifies as non-binary. Quasar returned the design to stacking only the six colors of the Pride flag and adding five other colors in a right-facing arrow. According to the V&A, the white, pink and light blue in Quasar’s design represents transgender and non-binary persons and brown for people of color. The arrow also includes black for both people of color and those living with or who have died from HIV/AIDS.
The Pride flag and its variations have become recognizable symbols of the LGBTQI+ community, and the presence at events and protests has helped to increase awareness of LGBTQI+ issues. The flag has also helped LGBTQI+ individuals feel more visible and represented in society. Its symbolism has allowed people to discuss topics such as sexual orientation, gender identity and LGBTQI+ rights in a more open and inclusive way. Quasar said that the shape of the right-facing arrow represents forward movement toward more inclusivity and the progress that still needs to be made.
While discrimination and prejudice against LGBTQI+ individuals continue to exist, Pride flags remain important symbols for uniting the LGBTQI+ community by promoting equality and inclusivity.
Read President Joe Biden’s Proclamation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Pride Month, 2023.
About the Author: Supervisory Consumer Safety Inspector Janine Henley, OFO, is assigned to the Atlanta District, Athens Circuit in Georgia.