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What are the flags of the LGTBIQ+ community? How many are there? What does the rainbow represent?

Pride is well known for its wide assortment of flags that adorn the protests. Here is the lowdown on some of the most prominent.

Protesters hold LGBT flags during the march through Brisbane City.
SOPA ImagesGetty

Pride is known for its colour and the flags are no exception. There are myriad, but each stand to represent a section of the LGBTQ+ community. As the community grows, so does the array of flags.

Each one reflects the values of the group that flies it. Each colour has a particular meaning, making each one interesting reading for all budding vexillologists worldwide.

How many flags are there?

It is pretty much impossible to pin down how many pride flags exist in the world; there are innumerable variations between similar flags of different styles. However, Queer in the World says there are more than 50 flags that are commonly used.

The first pride flag had eight stripes with each colour representing a meaning:

  • Pink – sex
  • Red – life
  • Orange – healing
  • Yellow – sunlight
  • Green – nature
  • Turquoise – magic/art
  • Indigo – serenity
  • Violet – spirit

Over time, the number of colours has been whittled down to six as pink and turquoise have been removed.

A rainbow flag is held aloft at pro-abortion protests.
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A rainbow flag is held aloft at pro-abortion protests.ROBERTO SCHMIDTGetty

The largest amendment to the traditional flag came in 2018 when Daniel Quasar added further aspects. This included the addition of an arrow from the transsexual flag, white representing intersexuality while the stereotypical colours for boys and girls of blue and pink sit next to each other. Pink has been readded as a stipe of the rainbow and the arrow is completed with the addition of brown and black representing the role non-white people have played in gay liberation.

A progress flag can be seen at Australian Mardi Gras.
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A progress flag can be seen at Australian Mardi Gras.SAEED KHANGetty

The transgender flag was designed in 1999 by Monica Helms, an American navy veteran who came out as trans in 1987.

'Trans lives matter' is imposed on the front of a transgender pride flag.
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'Trans lives matter' is imposed on the front of a transgender pride flag.Mike KempGetty

Here’s what she describes as the meaning behind it.

“The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.”


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