Letting Your Pride Flag Fly…but which one?

By Sue Barry (she/her) and Corey Romeyn (he/him)

Collingswood Pride Committee Education Leaders

Soon, June will be bustin’ out all over, and with it, rainbow flags in all sorts of configurations. Because Collingswood is so full of pride, it is common to see rainbow flags all year long, but borough residents celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month with a whirl of color and style. Breezy days bring the crisp snap of the revered six-colored Rainbow flag…and the eight-colored flag…and the flag with the chevron…

Wait…there isn’t just one flag? WHAT IS IT WITH ALL THESE FLAGS?!

You may in fact notice a variety of different Pride flags around town, each one imbued with a rich history and urgent background. Here is a field guide to spotting LGBTQ+ Pride flags in Collingswood and beyond.

Gilbert Baker’s Rainbow design (1978)

San Francisco-based artist Gilbert Baker (1951-2017) conceived, designed, and fabricated a hand-dyed hybrid of the American flag which originally featured eight rainbow-colored stripes. Intended to be “a symbol of hope [and] a modern alternative to the pink triangle,” Baker’s design was adopted by the San Francisco gay community as its symbol. Baker’s flag, first flown at that city’s 1978 Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade, was shortened to six primary-color stripes to mitigate reproduction costs. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, Baker crafted a mile-long version of his flag for the 1994 New York Pride Parade, thus cementing the flag’s iconic status and preserving it as the preeminent symbol of LGBTQ Pride.

Philadelphia Pride flag (2017)

Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, in partnership with the Tierney and Partners Design Agency, debuted the city’s “More Color, More Pride” Pride flag in 2017. This eight-striped flag includes the six traditional rainbow colors, and includes a black and a brown stripe that signify the intersectional struggles of LGBTQ+ people in the Black and Latino communities. This design was borne out of calls to address racism and discrimination against queer Black and Brown people, and especially violence against Black and Brown trans women. Philadelphia is no stranger to Gay and Lesbian protests: sit-ins and picketlines stretch back to 1965. The Philly Pride flag continues this tradition of activism with the goal of inclusion and equity.

Progress Pride flag (2018)

Portland, OR-based designer Daniel Quasar asserts that their iteration of the Pride flag “forces the viewer to reflect on their own feelings towards the original Pride flag and its meaning as well as the differing opinions on who that flag really represents, while also bringing into clear focus the current needs within our community.” The chevron, comprising the colors white, light pink, and light blue, evoke the stripes in Monica Helms’ 1999 Transgender Pride flag. Capping the chevron and pushing the eye forward are the black and brown stripes that represent Black and Brown LGBTQ+ folks. Quasar represents people living with AIDS with a horizontal red stripe; those who have been lost to the AIDS crisis are acknowledged in the black chevron stripe. The Progress Pride flag caught on immediately in the LGBTQ+ community and is now a mainstay of LGBTQ+ symbolism.

No matter which flag you fly, the important thing to remember is that a flag is only a symbol. The pride with which you wave the flag is everything! Look for these flags around Collingswood all year long, and especially in June when we remember the past, celebrate the present, and move forward into an inclusive, equitable future for all Queer folks!

Sources and further reading:

Museum of Modern Art

The Art Newspaper

GLBT Historical Society

Philadelphia Inquirer

Office of LGBT Affairs

Quasar Digital

Northwestern University Office of Equity

Smithsonian Institution

83 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

We're so excited to share our upcoming events with you! We have lots of good things in the works. Look out for more fun, educational and spotlighting blog posts as we approach our events. :)