You know how one thing leads to another and suddenly you’ve gone down a completely related yet unrelated rabbit hole? Here’s what happened recently when Hannah and I looked for Pride festivals to attend this summer (we’re so excited about attending in-person festivals we can’t even stand it). 

“Hey, how are we going to decorate?”
“Let’s research how people decorate for Pride” (we’ve been to festivals before, but it’s always fun to get new ideas)
“Hey, we need lots of rainbow flags.”
“Hey, when was the first rainbow flag made?”
“You know that! We’ve talked about it a million times.”
“Yes we have but it’s a good segue into what I really want to talk about in this post.”
“Ah. Ok, then let’s hear it.”

The first Rainbow Pride flag is attributed to Gilbert Baker who was a friend of Harvey Milk. Here’s the info according to 

Gilbert Baker, a friend of San Francisco’s openly gay City Supervisor Harvey Milk, designs the first rainbow flag. The eight-color flag first flew over the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June of 1978. From top to bottom, the colors represent sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic and art, serenity, and spirit.”

“Ok, then we’re agreed, lots of rainbow flags.”
“Wait a second, what about the Progress Flag?”
“What is the Progress Flag?”
“You know, the one that has black and brown stripes to include people of color”

Again from

“Following an outcry over racism in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, the city commissioned the design of a new eight-color flag with black and brown stripes to recognize the contributions of LGBTQ+ people of color. The flag was unveiled at Philadelphia’s Pride celebration in 2017 and remains the official LGBTQ+ flag of the City of Philadelphia.” 

Then in 2018
“Designer Daniel Quasar creates the “Progress Flag”, which combines elements of the 2017 Philadelphia flag and the trans flag with the traditional rainbow flag. According to Quasar, the colors in the chevron represent trans individuals, people of color, those living with HIV/AIDS, and deceased members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Wait, should we be using the Progress Flag?”
“Oh, yea that’s really cool and more inclusive”
“Um, using the Progress Pride Flag doesn’t mean you’re an inclusive person”
“Um, what?”

I have the good fortune of living in a household that includes two outstanding young women, one black and one white, who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and two Allies who love them (I’m one of those). These ladies don’t mind at all pointing out when my privilege is showing and when I make assumptions about inclusion or what it means to be gay or black or have pronouns outside the status quo, and I am always grateful for their honesty and understanding when I goof. 

This time, I assumed that anyone who identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is accepted, included in, and supported by that community. I assumed that the flag or flags bring the community together as symbols of pride and unity. I was wrong, as assumptions often are.

When I first started this post I had no idea where it would lead me. I know now that I have questions that require quite a bit more research and thinking on my part. You will probably see more posts on this subject, and I hope you will let me know what you think. 

About the decorations for Pride (that’s where this all started, remember?) We’ll keep thinking about that too, but I am pretty sure it will include a variety of different flags. Representation on its own might not equal inclusion, but maybe it’s a start.

Thanks for being here,

Ellin (she/her)

Join the conversation on Facebook-


March 15, 2022 — Rebecca Porterfield

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.