Throughout history, symbols have represented movements and organisations of every creed. Ask people what immediately springs to mind when they see a cross, and they’ll probably answer that it is a symbol of organised Christianity. Add a few extra stripes and ask them about the swastika, and they’ll recall the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.
The LGBTQI+ community has also used symbols to define and represent itself – both as a movement and a group – since the formation of the first liberation groups. The rainbow flag, designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, is probably the most well known, but are your familiar with some of these other LGBTQI+ symbols?
The inverted triangle
Originally used as a means to identify gay men in Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War, the inverted triangle was later adopted as a symbol of pride and the fight against oppression. ACT-UP decided to use the pink triangle as its logo when the organisation was founded, and it is used widely among other organisations and groups today.
Interlocking biological symbols
Often used to represent gay men and lesbian women, double interlocking biological synonyms are pretty self-explanatory.
Interlocking blue and pink triangles
Interlocking blue and pink triangles are symbols for bisexuality. The exact meaning of the colours is unclear: one theory is that the blue represents attraction to men and the pink represents attraction to women, while another theory proposes that the pink triangle represents homosexuality, the blue triangle represents heterosexuality and the purple triangle represents bisexuality.
The Transgender Pride flag
In the flag, designed by Monica Helms in 1999, the light blue and soft pink stripes denote the traditional colours for baby boys and girls. The white stripe represents people who are intersex, who are transitioning, or people who have a neutral or undefined gender identity. Speaking to the Huffington Post about the flag, Helms said, “The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.”
Since the early 1970s, the eleventh letter of the Greek alphabet has been used as a symbol for the LGBT community. Some speculate that the “l” stands for liberation, while others believe it has been taken from the physics symbol for energy, and another group thinks it might refer to same-sex love and relationships in ancient Greece.
LGBTQI+ equality symbols
The largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group in the US, the Human Rights Campaign, adopted the yellow equals sign on a blue background as their logo in 1995, and the reworked red version of the logo became a symbol of marriage equality in 2013.