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Beyond The Rainbow

What does the Pride Flag mean? 5 min read

Pride Progress and Intersex flag flying Pride Progress and Intersex flag

When we hear Pride, the first thing that comes to mind for many is the iconic rainbow Pride flag- but did you know the symbol of hope, defiance and diversity has been through several changes throughout the years?! 


Originally created by artist Gilbert Baker, the initial design made its debut in 1978 at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration. 

Baker's first rainbow flag had eight colours, with a different meaning for each colour-

Hot Pink - Sex

Red - Life

Orange - Healing

Yellow - Sunlight

Green - Nature

Turquoise - Magic

Indigo - Serenity

Violet – Spirit


Demand for the rainbow flag greatly increased after the assassination of Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978. As Baker ramped up production, he dropped the hot pink stripe – simply because fabric in that colour was not readily available. 


In 1979, the flag was modified again. Aiming to decorate hundreds of street lamps along the Pride parade route with rainbow banners, Baker decided to use an even number of stripes. He dropped the turquoise stripe, resulting in the six-stripe version of the flag that became the standard for future production — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.


Gilbert Baker unveiled his final version of the rainbow flag in early 2017 in response to the election of Donald Trump. Baker added a ninth stripe in lavender (alongside the original hot pink and turquoise stripes) to represent diversity.


In June 2018, designer Daniel Quasar released a redesign incorporating elements from an alternative iteration of the flag (the Philadelphia flag) and the trans pride flag to focus on inclusion and progress within the LGBTQ+ community. 

The flag design immediately went viral as the Progress Pride Flag on social media.

While retaining Baker’s six-stripe rainbow design as a base, the "Progress" variation added a chevron with black, brown, light blue, pink, and white stripes to bring marginalised communities to the forefront of Pride, stating "the arrow points to the right to show forward movement, while being along the left edge shows that progress still needs to be made.”

The additional stripes aimed to represent marginalised people of colour in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the trans community, and those living with HIV/AIDS.


In 2021, Valentino Vecchietti of Intersex Equality Rights UK developed an alternative Pride Progress flag design to incorporate the intersex flag.

They said of the design:

 “I designed this intersex-inclusive pride flag as part of Intersex Equality Rights UK's intersex visibility and inclusion campaign in May 2021. My redesign brings together Morgan Carpenter's intersex flag design from 2013, and Daniel Quasar's Pride Progress flag design of 2018. 

I wanted to bring some much needed joy to my intersex community.  And I also wanted to raise awareness to the wider community about where intersex sits within LGBTIQA+ Sexualities: Lesbian Gay Bisexual Queer Asexual +; Gender Identities: Trans and Trans non-binary; Intersex: Physical variations in our sex characteristics which we are born with.

Sexualities and gender Identities and  physical variations in sex characteristics all intersect, but each category is also separate and distinct.

Creating this Pride flag update to make space for intersex, whilst also recognising our distinctions, will I hope create greater solidarity and allyship.”


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