Gay Symbols



The ancient Greek Spartans believed the lambda meant unity, while the Romans considered it, the light of knowledge shed into the darkness of ignorance.

Pink Triangle

Pink Triangle

The Pink Triangle was used by the Nazis to signify homosexuals. Although, homosexuals were only one of the groups targeted for extermination, it is unfortunately, the group that history often excludes. The Pink Triangle defies anyone to deny history.

In 1935 Hitler revised the German Law, Paragraph 175, prohibiting homosexuality, by including kissing, embracing, and gay fantasies as well as sexual acts. Convicted offenders-- an estimated 25,000 from 1937 to 1939, were sent to prison and later transferred to concentration camps. They were to be sterilized, most often by castration. Hitler changed his policy on homosexuality to include death in 1942.

Concentration camp prisoners were designated into groups by colored inverted triangles. Which set up a social hierarchy among prisoners. A green triangle marked the wearer as a regular criminal.; a red triangle denoted a political prisoner. Two yellow overlapping triangles forming a Star of David denotes Jewish prisoners. The Pink Triangle was for homosexuals. A yellow Star of David under a superimposed Pink Triangle represented Gay Jewish prisoners-- by the social hierarchy, the lowest of all prisoners.

Gay Jewish Holocaust POW's Triangle

When the war was finally over, many homosexuals remained prisoners in the camps until 1969 when Paragraph 175 was repealed in West Germany.

The Pink Triangle was adopted by many Gay rights groups in the 1970s. Because, it draws attention to the oppression and persecution -- then and now.

In the 80s, ACT-UP (Aids Coalition To Unleash Power) started using a Pink Triangle that pointed up, to signify an active fight back , rather than a passive resignation to fate. Today , for many, the Pink Triangle represents Pride and Solidarity...Convicted offenders, an estimated 25,000.

Pride Flags

Victory Over AIDS Flag

The Victory Over AIDS flag uses the Rainbow Flag with a black stripe at the bottom to commemorate those we have lost to AIDS. Sergeant Leonard Matlovitch, a decorated Vietnam veteran with aids, suggested that when a cure for AIDS is found all the black stripes be removed and taken to Washington D.C. and a ceremony be held where the stripes be burned.


THE INTERNATIONAL BEAR BROTHERHOOD FLAG ( 1995 VA 763-760) Craig Byrnes, Bear Manufacturing, was designed with inclusivity in mind and represents the fur colors and nationalities of bears throughout the world. It is presented to the bear community with love and gratitude.— Craig Byrnes To learn more about the history of this flag go to: Bear Manufacturing *******Information supplied by: Gary Turner Co-chair, Worcester County Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Pride Committee


Bear Pride Flag

The Bear Pride flag was first displayed on June 18, 1995, at Spags, a Seattle bear bar. What is a Bear, you may ask? A Bear is a man that has an abundance of hair on their face, chest and body. The colors of the flag represent the Earth and the different bears that live between the sky and the ground. The Golden yellow paw shaped sun Represents the spirit and brotherhood of all bears. The blue stripe represents the sky; white for Polar bears; black for black bears; brown for brown bears and green for the Earth.

Leather Pride flag

The Leather Pride flag represents the leather community. It is used by those into leather, sado-masochism, bondage and domination, uniforms, cowboys, rubber, and other fetishes. It was first displayed in Chicago at the 1989 Mr. Leather contest. Even though it is common in the Gay community, it is not a "Gay only" symbol.

Red Ribbon

Red Ribbon

The Red Ribbon Project was started in 1991 by Visual AIDS, a charitable group of New York art professionals. Visual AIDS encourages many groups to honor those lost to AIDS, to create awareness of AIDS/HIV transmission, to let people be aware of the needs of Persons with AIDS, and to call for more funding of services and research.

The yellow ribbons that honored the Americans in the Persian Gulf War inspired the Red ribbons. The color Red was chosen for it's " connection to blood and the Idea of passion- not only for anger, but for love, like a valentine," as said by Frank Moore of Visual AIDS.

The Red Ribbon made it's first public appearance at the 1991 Tony Awards, when it was worn by host Jeremy Irons. Some activists feel that the ribbon has become simple lip service to AIDS causes; on one particular incident Barbara Bush wore one while sitting in the audience . When she stood by the President during his speech, her ribbon was noticeably missing. The sincerest hope of the Ribbon Project is that it will no longer be needed


Some Lesser Known Symbols

Gender Symbols. The pointed Mars symbol represents male and the Venus symbol with the cross represents females. Mars symbolizes a warrior with an arrow and Venus symbolizes a maiden with a mirror.

Gender Symbols

Double interlocking male symbols have been used by gay men since the 1970's. Double interlocking female symbols have often been used to indicate lesbianism. But some feminist have used it to represent the sisterhood of women. These same feminists would use 3 interlocking female symbols to personify lesbianism. Also, some lesbian feminists of the '70's would use the 3 interlocking female symbols to represent the rejection of male standards of monogamy.

In the 1970's, gay liberation movements used the male and female symbols superimposed to represent the common goals of lesbians and gay men. These days the superimposed symbols might also be used by the heterosexual community to denote the awareness of the differences and diversity between men and women.

A transgendered person might superimpose a male and female symbol in such a way that the arrow and the cross join on the same ring.

Although Lesbians were not included in the Paragraph 175, Prohibition of Homosexuality, The Black Triangle was used to designate prisoners with "anti-social" behaviors.

The Nazi ideals of womanhood focused on children, kitchen, and church. The Black Triangle may have been used to designate Lesbians, prostitutes, women who refused to bear children and women with other "anti-social" behaviors.

The pink Triangle is historically a male symbol,. The Black Triangle was reclaimed by Lesbians and women to represent Pride and solidarity.

Rainbow Flag

Now onto the Rainbow flag. The Rainbow plays a part in many myths and stories related to gender and sexuality in Greek, Native American, African, and other cultures.

In 1978, San Francisco artist, Gilbert Baker, designed the Rainbow Flag for the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. Baker and 30 volunteers hand-dyed and hand stitched 2 prototype flags for the parade. These first flags had 8 stripes. Pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit.

For the 1979 Parade Baker went to the San Francisco Paramount Flag Co. to mass-produce the Rainbow Flag. At that time hot pink was not available commercially. So pink and turquoise were removed and royal blue replaced indigo. This six-color version became the widely recognized symbol for Gay Pride and diversity. It is officially recognized by the International Congress of Flag Makers.

In 1994, a 30 foot wide by one mile long Rainbow Flag was carried by 10,000 people in New York's Stonewall 25 Parade.

Such things as Freedom Rings were inspired by the Rainbow Flag. There are many variations of the flag; one with a blue field of stars and versions with superimposed Lambdas, Pink Triangles, and other symbols.

Reference note: The above information was gathered from various resources on the net, as well as from books. This information was donated to StoneWall Society by a now non-existent website. In checking with the original donating source, there was no single source available at the time. However, it has come to our attention that some of this material closely matches material found in the Rainbow Icon Archive which was launched in the same year as the site which made the donation of information. The donator no longer present on the web has requested and sees no point in listing them as a source as this information came from a long research project and from multiple sources. In the event that any portion of the printed material did come from Rainbow Icon Archive we list their link here as a means of mutual support and potential acknowledgement.

The images and symbols themselves are open domain and may be copied if you so choose with out permission as these are community symbols and all copyright of the actual symbols would really revert to the artist which created the individual symbols.