Last Saturday I watched the Global Pride. Because most of the Pride parades had been cancelled, a virtual Global Pride was set up that showcased performances, movies and speeches by LGBTI+ activists from all over the world. A wonderful initiative that showed how it pays to pull together at the same time.
The rainbow flag was omnipresent. But also the trans-flag, the lesbian-flag (whether or not in combination with the feminist fist), the bi-flag, the intersex-flag, the pan-flag, the bear-flag, the leather-flag and so on… waved combatively in a lot of videos and contributions.
Gay, man and flag
This suddenly made me wonder what kind of flag the gay men could wave? Google didn’t have an answer. The combination of ‘gay, man and flag’ mainly resulted in images of the rainbow flag. And that’s problematic.
Just to be clear: I have no flag fetish and I don’t think gay men should necessarily stand out or oppose the rest of the LGBTI+ community.
Nobody is LGBTI+
But by themselves, nobody is LGBTI+. You can’t be lesbian and gay and bi and trans and intersex and… You can make a number of combinations but you can’t combine everything. The great strength of the LGBTI+ movement is that it has succeeded in getting all those minorities to work together to achieve a number of common goals. The rainbow is the strong overarching symbol of this collaboration. A symbol that is easy to explain and that has been accepted by the majority of the world as ‘our’ symbol. When they see a picture of a rainbow, most people automatically think of the LGBTI+ struggle.
But this doesn’t mean that all these groups agree on everything. There are several subjects on which they differ. Some feminist lesbians don’t like the fact that certain trans people would prefer that the government didn’t record whether somebody is M or F. They are afraid that this will make discrimination against women more difficult to spot, and therefore more difficult to tackle. Other examples include differences of opinion between gay men and lesbian women about whether or not to allow surrogacy.
In such cases, it is interesting how these groups can also express their opinions separately. A flag then makes it clear who is speaking. But because the gay men don’t have a flag of their own, they easily assume that they can claim the rainbow flag. And this creates unwanted confusion: the distinction between the opinion of that one group and the opinion of the community then becomes too vague.
The result is that not all groups can recognise themselves in the rainbow flag any longer. Many trans people would like ‘their’ colours to be added to the flag as well. And for the LGBTI+ People of Colour, the flag is incomplete without an extra brown and black stripe. I understand these sentiments because the current situation certainly lacks clarity.
But I would rather see it solved differently.
Smoothing out the differences
The colours of the rainbow flag do not stand for groups or tendencies; they stand for core values, symbols of our collective strength. They want to smooth out the differences and show that we, as the LGBTI+ movement, can go for one goal. If you add colours that are clearly linked to one group, that message of ‘strong together’ is gone. Because why shouldn’t the colours or the symbols of the bi- or intersex-persons be included as well? Or if you show a rainbow flag without the trans colours, do you mean that you are against trans persons?
Their own flag
Instead of more unity, I see more discussion and more division. Hence my idea: give the gay men their own flag. A flag with colours that are clearly different from the rainbow flag, eliminating any confusion. Then the rainbow flag itself can again become the connecting symbol of the whole LGBTI+ family.
This text is a translation of a text originally written in Dutch. The original can be found here: http://brunodelille.eu/red-de-regenboog-zizo/