The rainbow flag represents the colorful members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Each color of the flag represents the different sectors of the community and promotes inclusivity and belongingness. And while many lesbians feel represented by the rainbow flag, there is still a lesbian flag— or flags — made to represent the community.
The beautiful thing about the lesbian flag (and its variations) is that each flag has a different meaning and significance.
There’s no one lesbian flag; there are plenty of flags and each one symbolizes the beauty of each sector of the community.
What is the Lesbian Flag?
There are many lesbian flags but one of the earliest ones was made in 1999. Sean Campbell, a gay graphic designer, created the earliest lesbian pride flag. The flag is designed with an inverted black triangle that repurposes the Nazi symbol. During the Second World War, the Nazis would send women who didn’t conform to their ideals to concentration camps. These women would be marked with an upside-down black triangle for identification. The captured men also had the same mark but were colored pink.
The first lesbian flag’s double ax symbol — also known as labrys — represents the feminism and strength of homosexual women. The symbol was eventually adopted into the lesbian community during the 1970s. The labrys is also featured within Roman and Greek mythology, which is often associated with Determis, Artemis and Laphria — popular LGBT symbols in mythology. The double ax is also often seen in depictions of women warriors (e.g. the Amazons).
What are the Other Lesbian Flags?
Anurtransyl Lesbian Flag
This flag is for someone (either cisgender or transgender) who considers themselves a woman who is attracted to other women. The anutransyl lesbian flag has five horizontal stripes, which are colored dark turquoise, light turquoise, pale purple, light purple and purple (from top to bottom).
The top two blue stripes represent trust and loyalty, as well as the freedom to love women. The middle pale purple stripe represents non-binary and trans lesbians. The bottom two purple stripes represent pride, serenity and self-love.
Apersnicketylemon Lesbian Flag
The flag has four even horizontal stripes colored in lilac, pink, grey and light blue (from top to bottom). The lilac color represents trans and non-binary lesbians. It also represents the violets women gave to each other to represent their love. The pink color is for femme and lipstick lesbians, representing their feminine love.
The grey shades represent aspec lesbians and any lesbians who find themselves in the ‘grey’ area of society. Blue represents butch lesbians.
Butch Lesbian Flag (Butch Positivity)
This is one of the two butch lesbian flags. The butch lesbian positivity flag has seven even horizontal stripes composed of the following colors: dark red-orange, mid-red-orange, light red-orange, cream, light yellow-orange, mid-yellow-orange and dark yellow-orange with a hint of brown. All of the warm colors represent the warm and positive environment for all women-loving-women and sapphic individuals.
A Tumblr post by the author listed down the meanings of each color:
- Red. Sexuality and passion
- Red-orange. Courage
- Light orange. Joy
- White. Renewal
- Beige. Chivalry
- Orange. Warmth
- Brown. Honesty
Butch Lesbian Flag (Dorian-Rutherford)
This lesbian flag was designed by a Tumblr user named dorian-rutherford and strayed away from the violets and oranges of the other lesbian flags. The Dorian-Rutherford lesbian flag uses purple (to represent women or lesbians loving women), blues (masculinity) and white (sexuality spectrums and gender). This flag is commonly used by butch and non-femme lesbians.
The lipstick lesbian flag is one of the most common lesbian flags (with “lipstick” referring to lesbians that present as feminine). Similar to the rainbow pride flag, the lipstick lesbian flag is decked with stripes but instead of different colors, the flag features different shades of purple and pink. In some cases, a lipstick print sits on the upper left corner of the flag.
The lipstick lesbian flag was designed in 2010 and is one of the most recognizable lesbian pride flags. However, it isn’t often used to represent the lesbian community since it mostly represents feminine lesbians.
VonKarn Lesbian Flag
Created in 2019, the VonKarn lesbian flag is composed of seven horizontal strips colored dark purple, violet, medium purple, pink, light red and dark red (from top to bottom). The dark purple colors represent butch and non-conforming lesbians, medium purple represents the soul while the violets are the flowers associated with WLW. Pink represents non-binary and trans lesbians, red is for passion, light red is for love and dark red is for femme lesbians.
Why is Purple a Common Color Among Lesbian Flags?
Despite the differences in shades used in lesbian flags, most of these flags are linked by their use of one color: purple.
Purple and lavender both have a long history as a color of representation for the LGBT community. There are many roots for this. Some point to Sappho, the Greek poet, and her love poems for other women. She would often reference violets in her work. During the early ‘70s, ‘lavender menaces’ was a slur used against lesbians. Lesbian activists eventually reclaimed and adopted the term.
Recently, purple and lavender have taken on a new significance since the colors blur the lines of identity and attraction. Also, both colors are a mix of different gendered colors like blue, pink and red.
What is the New Lesbian Flag?
As the call for more inclusivity continued in the LGBTQ community, Twitter user Emily Gwen created a flag that included trans women, butch women and other non-conforming women. The new lesbian flag gained popularity and has been reposted and shared on different social media sites.
The colors of the new lesbian flag include (and symbolize) the following:
- Dark orange. Gender non-conformity
- Coral. Independence
- Lighter orange. Community
- White. Relationship to womanhood
- Pink. Peace and serenity
- Pastel pink. Sex and love
- Dark pink. Femininity
The lesbian flag has many variations and should there be more changes in the future, it would not come as a surprise. Culture and society change. If new flags are designed and it makes people feel seen, then we are all for it.