It’s LGBT History Month, and to commemorate that fact The Tab Lancaster is doing a series of LGBT-themed articles. This would have been one of those. But then it wasn’t.
I like to think of myself as a man of some aesthetic sensibilities. I feel I can tell things that look nice apart from things that do not with reasonable certainty.
Vexillology is the study of flags. Today, I shall create a new academic discipline. I shall call it homovexillology — the study of LGBT flags.
Now remember a critique of a flag is not a critique of an identity represented by it. For example, calling Libya’s (former) flag a cop-out or Maryland’s hideous doesn’t mean I think Libyans are lazy or Marylanders particularly unappealing, just as saying Hezbollah have a sick one doesn’t mean I’m big into suicide bombing.
Below are (most of) the LGBT flags ranked. The good, the bad and the sometimes quite ugly.
14. Lipstick Lesbian ¶
Meaning: Lipstick is purdy
Verdict: This is a mess. The kiss mark looks like some cheap ClipArt, and the transparency is inconsistent. There is also a good reason brown is not a common colour in flags.
13. Transgender ¶
The light blue is the traditional color for baby boys, pink is
for girls, and the white in the middle is for those who are
—Monica Helms, creator
Verdict: Although they may have symbolic meaning, the light blue and light pink colour palette is just unpleasant. The pastel look makes one think of old people and sadness.
Honourable Mention ¶
This alternate model by Jennifer Pellinen is much better. The gradual transition from pink to dark blue is more representative of the idea of non-binary gender whilst the darker colour scheme lends the flag a more mature, moody vibe. If I was including alternate flags in my rankings, this would be a strong contender.
12. Polysexual ¶
11. Genderqueer ¶
Meaning: Chartreuse green for non-binary, white for neutral, purple for gendered (paraphrased from creator Marilyn Roxie’s post here).
Verdict: I’m pretty sure that is literally a dolly mixture.
10. Agender ¶
Both black and white represent the complete absence of gender.
Grey represents being semi-genderless. Green represents nonbinary
gender, because it is the inverse of purple.
Verdict: I’m no expert, but are agenders cyborgs?
9. Genderfluid ¶
Pink for Femininity, Blue for Masculinity, Purple for both, Black
for the lack of gender, and White for all genders.
Verdict: Perhaps intentional, but this is just a whole big mess of colours. The only flag that makes having more than four to five stripes work is the Stars and Stripes.
8. Intersex ¶
The colour yellow has long been regarded as the hermaphrodite
colour, neither blue nor pink[…]The circle is unbroken and
unornamented, symbolising wholeness and completeness, and our
Verdict: A rare LGBT flag that doesn’t consist of stripes, it’s a striking design. Looks a bit like an anus though.
7. Asexual ¶
The black stripe represents asexuality, the grey stripe the
grey-area between sexual and asexual, the white stripe sexuality,
and the purple stripe community.
Verdict: The first signs of better colour sense are starting to break through, but it loses points for being largely shades of grey. For a sexuality that’s trying to shake the stigma of being boring, that probably wasn’t the best idea.
6. Bisexual ¶
The pink color represents sexual attraction to the same sex only
(gay and lesbian), The blue represents sexual attraction to the
opposite sex only (straight) and the resultant overlap color
purple represents sexual attraction to both sexes (bi).—Michael Page, creator
Verdict: A bit of a barrage of blues, but the different bar thicknesses sets it apart.
5. Pansexual ¶
I chose pink, yellow and blue as pan colours because pink and
blue have come to be accepted to represent binary gender (pink for
the female spectrum, blue for the male spectrum), while yellow is
a bright colour, that symbolises life and happiness in many
cultures, and is neglected by most queer-representing flags.
Verdict: Somewhat garish, but also the first LGBT flag to really whip out the colours.
4. Lesbian ¶
The labrys, or double-bladed battle axe, was a symbol used in the
ancient civilization of Minoan Crete (sometimes portrayed as
having certain matriarchal tendencies). It represents lesbian and
feminist strength and self-sufficiency.
Verdict: Fucking metal
3. LGBT ¶
It represents the diversity of gays and lesbians around the
Verdict: Fantastic. Probably the most vibrant and colourful flag in the world (not to mention distinctive, which is the main goal of a flag). You can’t not be cheerful when you’ve got rainbows all up in your face. But what could beat it?
2. Bear ¶
Meaning: Hairy bears have beary hair.
Verdict: This is fucking adorable. Despite what I said about brown earlier, this is the perfect use of it. They even include the full range of bear fur colours — brown bears, black bears, even polar bears. It’s like a big friendly woodland youth camp flag. Gr8 stuff.
1. Leather ¶
I will leave it to the viewer to interpret the colors and
—Tony DeBlase, creator. I have a hunch the black might be for
leather though I don’t know. Not sure I want to know what the
Verdict: This is it. This is the Darth Vader of LGBT flags. A big, brooding, dark, sleek purple + black number. A German whip of gay flag power. And then there’s a big goofy love heart on it, because of course there is. The flag can be as scary as it likes, but deep down they’re all a bunch of softies who know what they love and want to hang out with others who also love it. It’s all about love. This is fine.