Why we don’t need additional colors on the pride flag

June 14, 2017
Dallas Pride iLume Drag Queen

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.”

Fort Worth Gay Pride Parade

Drag Queens from Fort Worth’s Rainbow Lounge in the gay pride parade.

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:

  1. That the original colors are somehow not representative themes for all races,
  2. That whiteness is “the default” way of being and minorities need to be especially called out, and,
  3. 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.

Dallas Pride Flag at iLume

Dallas Gay Pride Parade participants practicing in front of iLume Park.

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? 

  • Reply
    June 16, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Clearly adding these colors DOES make some people feel included…why would you not support that? Of course these additions will not stop institutionalized/systemic racism, but if some people who have felt marginalized now feel more included, I’m for it.

  • Reply
    ray naudier
    June 17, 2017 at 1:43 am

    Thirty-three.. distinctly different.. Pride flags + symbols exist (Gay Pride, Lesbian Pride, Lipstick Lesbian Pride, Bisexual Pride, Transgender Pride, Intersex Pride, Feather [Drag] Pride, Genderqueer, Asexual, Pansexual, Polyamorous, Straight, Straight Allies, Bear, Leather, Rubber,…). If we (I’m Black) POC want our own specific, LGBT(QIA)-POC flag, we should have it, but it should be (IMO) distinct, like any other flag. There’s no shortage of graphic designers or artists in the POC community.. There’s no need to use (hijack?) the Gay Pride flag; that’s artistically lazy, & “weak”. Just my opinion..

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