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Variations of the Gay Pride Rainbow Flag

Sexual Orientation Flags

Last modified: 2018-10-27 by randy young
Keywords: rainbow flag | stripes: 6 | smiley | labrys | earth | map: earth | hat: cowboy | aids | pirate | crossed bones | heart (black) | aids | matlovich (leonard) |
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Miscellaneous Reports about the Rainbow Flag

The rainbow flag forms the basis for many different, in part localized, variants.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 August 2001

This seems to be a fairly consistent pattern — taking an existing flag and "merging" it with the Rainbow Flag or various GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered] symbols to represent GLBT members of the group the existing flag represents.
Steve Kramer, 16 March 1999

I suppose there will be many more [rainbow variation flags] like the Maryland one at that will to be known or developed and then known.
Steve Stringfellow, 16 March 1999

This web page GayJourney.COM has an awful lot of gay flags, which are mostly variations on other flags, including all US states, all Canadian provinces, and many nations. Most of these, with "GJ" underneath, were designed by the site's author, Greg Gomes. It is hard to say how many of these are flying somewhere.
Richard Knipel, 14 June 2004

At GayJourney.COM, lots of rainbows: from Argentina to Wales, EU, UNO, US states, Canadian provinces and general gay flags. Perhaps not all of these flags are actually used in the real word.
Francisco Santos, 14 May 2003

In Amsterdam one can't help noticing in the Red Light quarter gay and lesbian flags. They are apparently used to give info to potential customers:
     - The rainbow flag with a naked male torso: gay;
     - The rainbow flag with a naked female torso: lesbian.
     - The rainbow flag with a heart on it: leather = SM.
Jarig Bakker, 29 November 2000

Some variations in adornment include:
     - pink triangle in the upper hoist, usually point upward
     - pink triangle in a canton of blue or black. Blue is an obvious play off the U.S. flag; black is a color associated with lesbianism - a black triangle on pink is also sometimes used as a lesbian symbol.
     - white stripe vertically in the hoist, to denote that «all are included».
     - a labrys (double-headed axe) is another lesbian symbol and is sometimes included, usually centered on the field
     - a U.S. flag canton
Steve Kramer, 6 May 1996

A pink triangle is sometimes located in the hoist of the Pride Flag.
Don Hagemann, 4 May 1996

During the renovation of Montreal’s (Canada) metro (subway) system in 1999-2000, the access to Beaudry metro, the station serving the gay village, was torn down and replaced with a beautiful new building with the colours of the gay pride flag integrated into it. To my knowledge this is one of the only public buildings in the world so decorated. You can see a picture of it here.
Matt McLauchlin, 11 December 2001


Color shade variations on Rainbow Flags

Rainbow with darker bottom stripe
image by Tomislav Todorović, 27 September 2014

Of course, this flag doesn't exactly have official specifications, but it seems to have become sufficiently common for this variation to be worth noting: The legalising of gay marriage in Spain was reported on The World on BBC4 TV tonight (30 June 2005). There were many shots of people holding the gay pride rainbow flag, but the colours were slightly different to what we show, with a lighter blue for the fifth stripe and a much darker sixth stripe — much closer, in fact, to the "indigo" (as it's called in English) of a real rainbow. However, a gay activist who was interviewed was wearing a badge which showed the colours as we show.
André Coutanche, 30 June 2005

A flag matching this description was seen at the Taiwan Pride in Taipei, on 26 October 2013.
Tomislav Todorović, 27 September 2014

Rainbow with lighter and darker stripes
image by Tomislav Todorović, 22 November 2015

Another flag displaying such variations was photographed in Hanoi, Vietnam, on 3 August 2014. Here, blue and purple/indigo are even lighter and darker, respectively, than on the previously described flags, but the other colors are also darker than usual, which especially seems to be visible with red and green. The ratio is 1:2 - also not very usual, still less unusual than the color shades combination.
Tomislav Todorović, 22 November 2015

Since there are no official specifications for the color shades, it is not quite unusual to see copies of flags, which display different shades of same color, being used together. Two such flags were seen at the San Francisco Pride 2012, with the photos available here, here and here. In this example, violet color is the one that varies the most: on one flag, the shade is close to magenta, while on the other, it is much closer to purple. Most of other colors vary as well, with orange varying the least.

Another example is from Belfast Pride 2013. (Photo) Here, violet varies the most again and the red varies the least.
Tomislav Todorović, 6 March 2016

Variations on the Ratio of Rainbow Flag

Lacking any official specifications, the Gay Pride / Rainbow Flag may have any ratio its users like. The most widespread ones, though, seem to be 2:3 and 3:5, which are among the most widespread ones in general, too. Long "flags" carried by rows of people at LGBT-related events also appear frequently.
A specific ratio worth noting is 1:1, which has been used in Zurich, Switzerland, alone or together with the national and cantonal flags, from which it was clearly borrowed. Most of its photos date from the Zurich Pride / Europride 2009; the best examples can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. These flags might easily be the predecessors of the Swiss gay flags which were seen at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Vienna, Austria.
Tomislav Todorović, 28 May 2015


Victory over AIDS Flag
(with additional black stripe)

Rainbow triangle Image by Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001

This is the rainbow flag with an added black stripe to be aware of AIDS called "Victory over AIDS" flag. See for example here and here.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001

Black: AIDS awareness; this stripe will be removed, as soon as a cure is found against AIDS.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001, (translating from EuroGay.net)

The Victory Over AIDS Flag modifies the rainbow flag by adding a black stripe at the bottom. Suggested by a San Francisco group, the black stripe commemorates those we have lost to AIDS. Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a much-decorated Vietnam Veteran dying of AIDS, proposed that when a cure is eventually found the black stripes should be removed from all the flags and ceremoniously burned in Washington, D.C.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001 (quoting from Jasewells.com)

The flag was used (photo) at Guatemala Pride 2011 (Orgullo Guatemala 2011). Note the unusually light shade of violet color, much lighter than the one used on the "ordinary" gay rainbow flags which can be seen on the same photo.
The same flag was used (photo) at the Guatemala Pride 2010 (Orgullo Guatemala 2010), although on the flag photographed at the event, violet stripe turned out to look almost white, so it probably could not be recognized without the later source.
Tomislav Todorović, 07 September 2014


Leathermen's Rainbow Flag
(with black stripe)

[Leather Rainbow flag]
image by Marcus Schmöger, 24 August 2001

A variant of the rainbow flag for "leathermen." The two lower stripes (blue and black) refer to the respective colours of the leather pride flag.

Reportedly, gay leather aficionados might also modify a rainbow flag to have a black stripe instead of a violet one. (However, this version might be confused with the "Victory Over AIDS" version of the rainbow flag, as they are similar.)
Marcus Schmöger, 24 August 2001
Source: http://jasewells.com/gayicons/

Rainbow Flags with white stripe

Rainbow Flags with white stripe at the hoist

[Rainbow flag]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 12 January 2000

Raibow flag with white stripe vertically in the hoist, to denote that "all are included."
Steve Kramer, 6 May 1996

The flag was photographed in October 2006 at the first Gay Pride in Osaka, Japan. The photo is available here. It shows that the top part of white stripe is covered with an additional white "patch" bearing a black inscription, whose width seems not to be identical with that of the stripe, so it probably was not the original part of the flag.
Tomislav Todorović, 27 August 2016

Stockholm Pride Rainbow Flags with White Stripe at the Fly

[Rainbow flag in Stockholm]     [Rainbow flag in Stockholm]
images by Tomislav Todorović, 6 June 2015

A flag used during Stockholm Pride Festival in Stockholm, Sweden, was like the Rainbow flag with red on top but with a white vertical stripe along the fly with the text "STOCKHOLM PRIDE" in sans serif letters of which the word "PRIDE" was in bold letters.
Elias Granqvist, 2 August 2004

The flag was also used at the Stockholm Pride 2007, as can be seen here. It was used again at the Stockholm Pride 2010, as shown here, here and here, as well as the Stockholm Pride 2012, as shown here. All these photos reveal that the inscription is purple.

A variant of the flag has the reversed order of colors (purple at the top, red at the bottom) and the inscription in black. It is incompletely visible in a photo at a webpage which has been created as an announcement of the Stockholm Pride / Europride 2008. Even though the colors are obviously too dark for the real life (certainly due to the photographing conditions), all rainbow colors are recognizable, and the inscription is visibly darker of them all, so it can hardly be any color other than black. Regarding the frequency of its appearing in the photos, compared with the other variant, this flag seems to be much less used.
Tomislav Todorović, 6 June 2015

Rainbow Flags with white triangle

[Rainbow flag with white triangle at hoist]
image by Tomislav Todorović, 27 August 2016

The flags with this design were photographed in October 2006 at the first Gay Pride in Osaka, Japan. They are similar to the flags with pink triangle at the hoist. Only the triangle is white here. It is not easy to determine the color shades precisely, but from comparing with the other flags the bottom stripe, it can be told that the bottom stripe is purple.
Tomislav Todorović, 27 August 2016

Rainbow triangle flags

Rainbow triangle
image by Marcus Schmöger, 26 August 2001

This the rainbow flag with an inserted triangle in the same colours. The (usually pink) triangle is one of the well-known symbols of the gay community. This flag thus combines the rainbow colours with the triangle. See examples here.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 August 2001

Rainbow triangle
image by Tomislav Todorović, 25 July 2013

Another gay flag with the rainbow triangle, but on black field, is offered for sale at several Web shops, like here and here. The flag was photographed in New York, at Gay Pride NYC, on 29 June 2006.
Tomislav Todorović, 25 July 2013

The flag was seen again at Portland Pride 2010 in Portland, Oregon, on 20 June 2010.
Tomislav Todorović, 1 August 2015

[Also see five different examples of the Rainbow Flags with pink triangle]

Rainbow Flags with double Mars symbol

Since astronomical/astrological symbol for Mars is used to represent male gender, doubled symbol is often used to represent male homosexuality and is included as such into the Unicode since version 4.1.0 and assigned the code point U+26A3.
Source:
Unicode Consortium website - code chart for Miscellaneous Symbols block in version 4.1.0 (in PDF format)
Tomislav Todorović, 21 June 2015

Rainbow Flag with double Mars symbol in canton

Image by Tomislav Todorović, 21 June 2015

Flags with double Mars symbol in white on blue canton were seen in London, UK on 2010-07-03, in New York City on 2011-06-26, in Nottingham, UK on 2010-07-31 and in Belfast, UK on 2013-07-06. On these flags, the individual Mars symbols are conjoined and the canton is much darker than the blue stripe.
Tomislav Todorović, 21 June 2015

This flag was also used at the Uganda Pride 2012.
Tomislav Todorović, 30 August 2015

Rainbow flag with double Mars symbol over all

image by Tomislav Todorović, 21 June 2015

Flag with large double Mars symbol over all in white, exhibited together with several other sexual orientation flags, can be seen here and here. A photo of the flag, taken in Washington, DC on 2013-03-26, can be found here. On these flags, the individual Mars symbols are interlaced and fimbriated black.
Tomislav Todorović, 21 June 2015

Rainbow flags with double Venus symbol

Since astronomical/astrological symbol for Venus is used to represent female gender, doubled symbol is often used to represent female homosexuality and is included as such into the Unicode since version 4.1.0 and assigned the code point U+26A2.
Source:
Unicode Consortium website - code chart for Miscellaneous Symbols block in version 4.1.0 (in PDF format)
Tomislav Todorović, 21 June 2015

Rainbow flag with double Venus symbol in canton

image by Tomislav Todorović, 21 June 2015

Flags with double Venus symbol in white on blue canton were seen in Zurich, Switzerland on 2009-06-06, in Santa Fe, New Mexico in February 2010, in London, UK on 2010-07-03 and in Nottingham, UK on 2010-07-31. On these flags, the individual Venus symbols are conjoined and the canton is much darker than the blue stripe.
Tomislav Todorović, 21 June 2015

This flag was also used at the Uganda Pride 2012.
Tomislav Todorović, 30 August 2015

Rainbow flag with double Venus symbol over all

image by Tomislav Todorović, 21 June 2015

Flag with large double Venus symbol over all in white, exhibited together with several other sexual orientation flags, can be seen here and here. A photo of the flag, taken in Columbus, Ohio on 2014-06-20, can be found here. On these flags, the individual Venus symbols are interlaced and fimbriated black.
Tomislav Todorović, 21 June 2015


Rainbow Flag with labrys

Rainbow w/ labrys image by António Martins, 30 Mar 2005 (labrys image from here)

A labrys (double-headed axe) is another lesbian symbol and is sometimes included, usually centered on the field of the rainbow flag.
Steve Kramer, 06 May 1996


Rainbow Flags with globe

Rainbow flag image by António Martins, 19 Aug 2005

This Gay flag variant of the Rainbow Flag has a circle in the center containing a natural (not map) world globe showing America, Europa and Africa. Source: Communication from José Luís Cepero.
Jaume Ollé, 05 Jun 2000 and 24 Jun 2000

I think by "natural" he means a space-eye photo of earth like on this flag). (Just a guess though.)
David Kendall, 31 Mar 2005

image by Tomislav Todorović, 25 Oct 2014

Another variant is charged with the globe on dark blue square canton, which occupies half of the flag width, thus repeating the design of The Authentic Earth Flag (Earth Day Flag),although the relative size of the globe is much larger on the gay flag canton than on the Earth Day Flag, probably in order to make it not too small to be recognizable. The flag was seen at the Atlanta Pride, on 2007-06-24, its photos being available here and here. The canton might look black or almost black on the photos, as very dark blue color may look in the shadow, but the rainbow colors also look darker for the same reason.
Tomislav Todorović, 25 Oct 2014


Rainbow Flag with smiley

Rainbow flag image by António Martins, 22 Jul 1999

Chicago held it’s Northalsted Market Days this weekend, the largest of Chicago’s summer street fairs. There were a lot of flags to see. The most prevelent was the gay Rainbow flag in several different varieties (including one with a smiley face on it) and a few other gay flags (since this is the gay mecca of the city).
Steve Stringfellow, 10 August 1998


Rainbow Flags with Cowboy Hat

[Cowboy hat rainbow flag]
image by Marcus Schmöger, 26 August 2001


This is the rainbow flag with a cowboy hat for "gay cowboys." This was created by "Cowboy Frank." See CowboyFrank.net.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 August 2001

[Cowboy Rainbow flag]
image by Tomislav Todorović, 7 September 2014

The name of its creator, also known as "Cowboy Frank," is Frank Harrell. The story about the flag creation can be found at his website. There is another variant, created by the webmaster of a site which was dealing, among other things, with the flags representing different sexual orientations; according to its author, the flag design was approved by Frank Harrell in 2009. In our communication from November 2012, Mr Harrell confirmed me that he did approve the new flag. The designer's motivation was to create a flag which, unlike the original one, could be produced without the screen printing. In order to achieve that, he placed the hat, which kept its usual color (described as "tan"), on a dark brown canton, which symbolizes earth and nature. The band surrounding the hat, not very distinguishable on the original flag, was made much wider and also painted in dark brown, to symbolize cowboys' "perpetual mindfulness of the earth." The original description of the flag can be found at its creator's website (in PDF format).
Tomislav Todorović, 7 September 2014

Rainbow Flag with Heart and Crossed Bones

[Pirate rainbow flag] image by Marcus Schmöger, 24 August 2001

This is a variant of the rainbow flag with a black heart and black bones (like in the Jolly Roger). Seen at the Christopher Street Day Parade 2001 in Munich; it seemed to me home-made.
Marcus Schmöger, 24 August 2001

Rainbow Flags with the Peace Sign

Gay Pride PEACE rainbow flag
image by Tomislav Todorović, 28 May 2015

Rainbow flags are sometimes charged with the peace sign. The simplest of such flags, charged with a white peace sign in center, was photographed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on 12 January 2008.
Tomislav Todorović, 28 May 2015

Gay Pride PEACE rainbow flag
image by Tomislav Todorović, 28 May 2015

During the weekly anti-Islam protests which have been organized in Dresden from October 2014 to February 2015 by the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, PEGIDA), a rainbow flag with a white peace sign on a purple canton (same shade as the bottom stripe) was seen sometimes, with the word PEGIDA sprayed over it in black - the only detail of the flag that looked hand-made. Whether the flag was made for PEGIDA or had existed before the protests, is not quite clear (the sprayed inscription might suggest the latter - a way to "adopt" the design). Regardless of that, its use was clearly in accordance with the movement's intention to deny the accusations for promoting ultra-rightist extremism and claims that they were opposing Islamic extremism only. The photos of this flag can be found here (image) and here (image).
Tomislav Todorović, 28 May 2015

Gay Pride PEACE rainbow flag
image by Tomislav Todorović, 16 January 2016

A variant of rainbow gay flag charged with the inscription PEACE above the peace sign, all in white, is used in the USA and Canada, primarily as the sexual orientation flag, but sometimes also as a pacifist symbol - an evolution similar to the one which the Italian rainbow flag underwent in the USA, but in the opposite direction. It was used at the Atlanta Pride Festival 2007; in Sacramento, California, during the Prop 8 Protest in 2008; in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during the Twin Cities Parade in 2010; and in St. Petersburg, Florida, at St. Pete Pride Parade in 2013.

In Canada, the flag was used in Edmonton, Alberta, during the Edmonton Pride Parades in 2011 and 2015.

While all the above examples show this flag as used alone, there are also examples of its use together with the undefaced rainbow flag. Two flags were hoisted together at the Easton Mountain resort in Greenwich, New York in June 2010, and on a building at Main Street, Bar Harbor, Maine, in August 2015.

As a pacifist symbol, the flags was used, together with several other pacifist flags, by the members of Martha's Vineyard Peace Council in 2008, during the July 4th parade in the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard island. A gallery of photos from the event is available here.
Tomislav Todorović, 16 January 2016

Rainbow Flag for People of Color

[Rainbow flag for people of color]
image by Tomislav Todorović, 27 July 2018

The rainbow flag with added black and brown stripes (at the top, above the red stripe) was first hoisted in Philadelphia on 8 June 20171,2, as part of a campaign named More Color More Pride2,3, which was aimed to turn public attention to the issues specific for LGBT "people of color" (of African and/or Latino origin), who often face neglect and even racism even within the LGBT community. The new flag had produced the whole range of reactions4,5,6,7,8: the opponents of the idea insisted that the rainbow colors are already a complete symbol of inclusion, so black and brown stripes were unnecessary, or even divisive, while its supporters thought that not only the addressed issues are real, but also found the others to point out, such as the pronounced homophobia among the people of color themselves. As the polls revealed8, LGBT people were rather divided over the new flag, the level of support varying in different sub-groups of the population, LGBT people of color being nearly evenly divided themselves. Regardless of all opinions, the flag did catch on and was used in Philadelphia in 2018 again9, as well as in other places, such as Washington, DC10 and Athens, Ohio11. All of these examples, as well as many others12, reveal that the shades of rainbow colors vary a lot on this flag as well, and so does the shade of brown (the shades used in the presented image are the approximations of those seen in the photos of original flag).
Tomislav Todorović, 27 July 2018
Sources:
1: Philly Gay Calendar at Twitter - Post on 8 June 2017
2: GayWrites blog - Post on 9 June 2017
3: CNN website - News report on 13 June 2017
4: LGBTQ Nation website
5: NBC News website
6: Gay San Diego website
7: BET.com website
8: BuzzFeed News website
9: Philly Gay Calendar at Twitter - Post on 24 July 2018
10: The DC Center for the LGBT Community at Twitter - Post on 8 June 2018
11: Ohio University website
12: #morecolormorepride photos at Twitter

In 2018, the flag use has spread outside the USA as well: in July, they were used at the pride parade in Mohali, India.
Tomislav Todorović, 23 October 2018
Source: Photo gallery from the July 2018 prida parade in Mohali

Rainbow Flag for Transgender and People of Color

[Rainbow flag for transgender and people of color]
image by Tomislav Todorović, 28 July 2018

On 1 June 2018, a newly created flag was raised in Seattle to mark the beginning of the Pride Month. It combines the Rainbow Flag with the transgender flag by Monica Helms from which the three stripes in pale blue, pink and white are added above the rainbow stripes, and adds the black and brown stripes to the flag top to represent the people of color, as used on the flag introduced in Philadelphia in June 2017. The flag thus created is intended to symbolize the inclusion of the largest variety of identities. As its photos reveal, the ratio matched that of the USA national flag.
Tomislav Todorović, 28 July 2018
Sources:
1. Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
2. Seattle Gay Scene website
3. Seattle Gay News website


Flags with repeated rainbow patterns

[Rainbow flag]
image by Tomislav Todorović, 14 June 2015

The Rainbow Flags are not limited to displaying a single rainbow patterns - there may be more than one on a single flag. An example with four rainbow patterns has appeared in Toledo, Ohio, at the 2012 Toledo Pride Parade. Its photos, taken on 10 August 2012, can be found here and here.
Tomislav Todorović, 14 June 2015

[Rainbow flag]
image by Tomislav Todorović, 1 August 2015

An example with two rainbow patterns was seen in Detroit at Motor City Pride 2011.
Tomislav Todorović, 1 August 2015

[Rainbow flag]
image by Tomislav Todorović, 25 June 2017

A row of flags with two rainbow patterns was photographed in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on 6 August 2013. The colors were arranged horizontally, but the shape as much like the German Knatterflaggen, with the ratio of about 4:1.
Tomislav Todorović, 25 June 2017

Flag with two conjoined rainbow patterns

[Rainbow flag with two conjoined rainbows] image by Tomislav Todorović, 5 May 2015

A variation which displays two rainbow patterns, with red stripes along the top and bottom edges and conjoined by a single violet stripe in center, was seen at Belfast Pride on 6 July 2013. Its photos can be found here (image 1) (image 2) and here.
Tomislav Todorović, 5 May 2015

Heart/Love Rainbow Flag

Love/Heart Rainbow flag
image from Pete Loeser, 24 August 2001

Another type of Rainbow Flag is the "Love" or "Heart" Flag. It became popular during the "Same Sex Marriage/Equal Marriage" Movements of the early 2000s.
Pete Loeser, 5 June 2015