A Lesbian Flag for Everyone
As an Indigenous lesbian, I was very disheartened to hear that the creator of the most widely recognized lesbian flag proposal was racist.
The flag creator’s most popular article on her website, entitled “My Worst Date Ever,” tells the tale of her date with an Asian woman. (No further specifics given.)
Jane was actually Asian, which is not my type at all. She totally threw me off with the blonde hair that night. It’s so amazing how much beautiful everything looks when you’ve had too much to drink.
While it is perfectly normal to find certain physical traits more attractive than others, (loving red hair, brown eyes, etc.) to say that someone’s race is “not your type” is indeed racist — It is judging the person wholly on their race in the most shallow sense.
In addition to this, the creator also shows her biphobic and transphobic and colours all over her website. She even shows a distaste for and dismissing butches… though given the high femininity of her flag design, that was hardly a surprise.
This is not the kind of person I want representing the lesbian community.
So, what’s the alternative?
There have been many lesbian flag proposals across the internet, most of which are variations of the “Lipstick Lesbian” flag. A problem with this is, however, using shades of the same colour as such is not very web friendly, nor is it easy on production of physical goods. I also had trouble finding flags with meaning and thought behind the designs, besides just what looks good. Though I did come across a a few gems, still unsatisfied, I decided to try my hand at making one myself. After all, the same thought had to come to anyone else who ever made a pride flag.
At first I started playing with different colour combinations, thinking about symbolism and what colours convey what. I knew right away that I wanted the colour violet to be part of it, in recognition of the early 1900’s tradition of lesbian women exchanging blue violets to the women they were secretly dating. And I knew I didn’t want it to be too feminine, in the same way the “Lipstick Lesbian” flag is. Seeking some sapphic inspiration, I decided to go right to the namesake.
I have not had one word from her
Frankly I wish I were dead
When she left, she wept
a great deal; she said to me, “This parting must be
endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly.”
I said, “Go, and be happy
but remember (you know
well) whom you leave shackled by love
“If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared
“all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck
“myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them
“while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song…”
—Sappho, translated by Mary Barnard
Sappho describes her lover as wearing violets, rosebuds, dill and crocuses. Reading this, it was like a puzzle came together in my head, all at once.
It was the crocuses that especially caught my eye. Crocus flowers are pretty incredible; they can bloom even with snow still on the ground. They are strong and hardy flowers. In the opposite of that spectrum, you have roses, soft and fragile.
The yellow in the flag is strength, and the pink fragility. Both are allowed. Both are okay. You can be both. And you are not less or more for either.
Then there is the dill green. Green has always been associated with nature, with growth, and with healing. Appropriately, did you know that soldiers in ancient times applied burnt dill seeds to their wounds, to help healing? Me neither, until further research into it.
What’s more, this flag is made of web safe colours, meaning they will display the exact same on all monitors and browsers.
I chose to make the colours bright and lively because that has always been my favourite thing about the rainbow flag. (Which I still identify with strongly.)
This flag is intended for all lesbians. All lesbians are welcome to it.
Anyone is free to use it, even for commercial use. My only request is that if anyone asks where you found it, you direct them here, so they too can know the background and thought process.
Will it catch on? Who knows. But it felt good to make a contribution to the effort. And whether it’s this flag or another, I’m confident that one day lesbians will have a well used, recognizable flag to call our own.
EDIT: In addition to using it as it is, please feel free to change it/improve it. I can’t stress enough that this is only a proposal and in no way am I personally attached to it. What I’d like to see more than anything is a unified decision (and if I may, I am quite attached to the winning flag from official-lesbian-flag.tumblr.com,) but if you like it, consider it yours to do with what you will.
I have changed the licence of this article to Creative Commons, as someone raised that this needs to be done. Thanks!
Additionally, I want to share a revision made by Maya Kern, improves the harmony of the flag by changing the colour order: