Gay Rights –
Rainbow Flag Addition
This month, communities all across America are celebrating Gay Pride. However, a recent addition to the rainbow flag and to the LGBT moniker has stirred charges of racism and exclusion.
For years, the rainbow flag has consisted of 6 colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists in Philadelphia recently raised a redesigned rainbow flag to show support for LGBT people of color. For some within the LGBT community, the addition of 1 black stripe and 1 brown stripe to the beloved flag as part of the “More Color More Pride” campaign has not at all been well received.
Traditionalists say the existing 6 colors of the rainbow flag are representative enough and that ethnicity has no place among the stripes. However, black and brown members of the community say that if inclusion is the LGBT goal, the 2 extra stripes should not really matter. The clash of opinions is part of a larger problem among LGBT men and women where racism is often masked as a preference.
A quick look on the gay dating/sex site Grindr produced a ton of dating profiles from gay white men with the warning: “NO BLACKS, NO ASIANS.” When the overt racism was called out and challenged, the excuse was that it was merely a “preference” and not a bias. Needless to say, black and brown LGBT people have had it up to here with such “preferences,” hence their demand for a more visible symbol of inclusion.
Amber Hikes, who is the director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs and who self-identifies as a “black queer woman,” called the new flag a “profound statement.” She added that “white people do not know what racism looks like because that’s the definition of racism.”
We say that we’re inclusive. We celebrate it. Now it’s time to go further. To broaden the horizons of our community. To change our iconic symbol … To not just talk about being inclusive, but to finally do it.
– More Color More Pride
Interestingly, calls for greater inclusion didn’t end with the rainbow flag. Members of the LGBT community have since requested that an addition not only be made to the flag, but to the moniker as well.
Introducing LGBTQIA, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual.
For anyone who is unclear about the actual definitions of each term, let’s explore:
LESBIAN: A female who is interested in other females.
GAY: A male who is interested in other males.
BISEXUAL: A person who is interested in both males and females.
TRANSGENDER: A person who was identified as one gender at birth, but feels as if they are the opposite gender.
QUEER: A person who explores gender and sexuality. They frequently don’t consider themselves male, female, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
INTERSEX: A person who is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. Previously, this was often called a hermaphrodite.
ASEXUAL: A person who has no sexual feelings or desires.
Members of the LGBT community now wish to expand and go by LGBTQIA, which has not been well received by some within the community.
Some community members are reminding everyone that being gay does not necessarily equate with being effeminate, while being effeminate does not necessarily equate with being gay. Plenty of gay men are not at all effeminate and plenty of effeminate men are not at all gay. So, for some, lumping all of these mismatched people into one large group is nonsensical. For example, some asexuals don’t want to march in a parade with bisexuals and some gay men don’t want to march in a parade with transsexuals.
However, proponents of the moniker addition believe that the name should change in the spirit of inclusion. They say that these individual groups would not survive on their own and that combining everyone into one group creates strength in numbers.
Will a redesigned rainbow flag continue to divide the very people it was meant to unite? Will a reimagined LGBTQIA moniker create strength and unity, particularly during the celebration of Gay Pride Month when not everyone who identifies as LBGTQIA is actually gay?