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The new Pride flag: Why the change, what the colours signify

The month of June, recognised worldwide as the Pride Month, is marked by many events across India to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. And you might have noticed that most of these events are marked by a flag — a simple red-to-violet rainbow, and in some cases, the more updated version of it, which is known as the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride Flag, created by Valentino Vecchietti of Intersex Equality Rights UK in 2021. This is actually a new version of the previous Progress Pride Flag created in 2018 by Daniel Quasar.

While most organisations in India still use the older rainbow pride flag in their events, the new variation of it is being increasingly accepted as a more inclusive representation for the community.

What’s Pride flag?

A Pride flag essentially represents the pride associated with LGTQIA+ social movements. For centuries people belonging to the community have had to fight for basic rights in countries across the world. The struggle continues in many countries. Uganda, for instance, recently passed a law criminalising the LGBTQIA+ community.

In India too, gay sex was decriminalised as recently as 2018. The Pride flag was used by activists, members of the community and allies as a symbol of resistance and acceptance. It was designed by renowned American artist and activist Gilbert Baker.

History of the pride flag

The simple rainbow Pride Flag, designed by Baker, made its debut in 1978 at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Parade. The new flag is based on this very flag. In his memoir, Rainbow Warrior, Baker mentions how he was approached by prominent gay activist Harvey Milk and filmmaker Artie Bressan Jr to come up with a symbol that will represent “the dawn of a new gay consciousness and freedom”.

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“In the past, when I had thought of a flag, I saw it as just another icon to lampoon… I discovered the depth of their power, their transcendental, transformational quality. I thought of the emotional connection they hold. I thought how most flags represented a place. They were primarily nationalistic, territorial, iconic propaganda — all things we questioned in the ’70s. Gay people were tribal, individualistic, a global collective that was expressing itself in art and politics. We needed a flag to fly everywhere,” writes Baker in his memoir.

According to Baker, the Rainbow Flag was a “conscious choice, natural and necessary” as it was a symbol of hope in many cultures. Since then, there has been, in spirit of inclusion, a tradition of adding new elements to this flag. The most significant update of this rainbow flag was in 2017, when social justice advocate Amber Hikes conceptualised a new version of the flag with black and brown stripes to represent people of colour.

In 2018, American graphic designer Daniel Quasar redesigned the flag to include the colours of the transgender flag, blue, light pink and white. Quasar added the transgender colours along with black and brown colours (representing people of colour) in a chevron shape to represent forward movement.

The most recent version of the flag was designed by Valentino Vecchietti in 2021 as an intersex-inclusive Pride flag. A purple circle over a yellow triangle was included in the chevron part of the pride flag. This is a reference to the Intersex pride flag.

Why is it called Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride Flag?

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The intersex has been largely been underrepresented within broader queer narratives. According to the United Nations, intersex people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.

In 2021, Intersex Equality Rights (UK) decided to adapt the Pride Progress flag design to incorporate the intersex flag, creating the Intersex-Inclusive Pride flag. Intersex Equality rights activist did the redesigning. The colours yellow and purple are used in the intersex flag as a counterpoint to blue and pink which are traditionally seen as gendered colours.

What do the colours of the new flag signify?

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Red= LifeOrange= HealingYellow= New IdeasGreen= ProsperityBlue= SerenityViolet= SpiritChevron PartBlack and brown= people of colourWhite, blue and pink= transpeopleYellow with purple circle= Intersex people

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