The Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs recently came out with a new pride flag that adds black and brown stripes.
I am not sure whether the “More Color More Pride” is a cynical publicity stunt or a misguided attempt at inclusion.
Here are the three biggest problems with the redesigned flag:
1. The pride flag isn’t about race.
The colors on the original pride flag designed by Gilbert Baker represented the race-neutral themes of “sexuality, life, healing, sun, nature, art, harmony, and spirit.”
2. Adding colors does not make the flag more inclusive.
The addition of black and brown colors to the pride flag turns an already-inclusive symbol into a divisive one.
The new colors imply:
- That the original colors are somehow not representative themes for all races,
- That whiteness is “the default” way of being and minorities need to be especially called out, and,
- That flags without black and brown stripes specifically exclude minorities (or at least black and brown minorities)
At some point the alphabet soup becomes meaningless.
Take the LGBTQA+ example — where we now have an acronym that includes everyone except heterosexuals who are homophobic.
A rally for the “everyone except heterosexual homophobes community” is about as compelling as a pride flag that resembles a Sherwin-Williams paint swatch gallery. Plus the current flag is already all-inclusive, so these additional colors are unnecessary.
3. Virtue signaling is not the same thing as change
The biggest problem with the two additional colors is that they will not result in meaningful change or inclusion for minorities.
And no, the stripes are not “a starting point” for true change– they are just pointless.
Black and brown stripes on your pride flag do not mean you’ll start inviting brown people to brunch.
Black and brown stripes on your pride flag are not going solve the health crisis that black gay men face (particularly here in the south.)
Black and brown stripes on your pride flag are not going to change the composition of your LGBT business chamber board.
Black and brown stripes on your pride flag are not going to stop minorities from being singled-out for dress code violations at the gay bars (or result in the DJ taking requests from minorities.)
Black and brown stripes on your pride flag are not going to stop systemic / societal racism and institutionalized violence against minorities.
Without actual outreach efforts and social change, we are just creating another tchotchke to decorate the condo balconies of upper-middle-class white men — and that can’t be the point, can it?