Last Saturday I watched the Global Pride. Because most of the Pride parades were cancelled, a virtual Global Pride was set up that showed performances, movies and speeches of 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 combative in a lot of videos and contributions.
Gay, man and flag
Which suddenly made me wonder what flag the gay men could wave? Google didn’t solve it. 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 in itself 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 that. 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 that doesn’t mean all those groups agree on everything. There are several subjects on which that is not the case. Some feminist lesbians do not like the fact that certain trans people would prefer the government not to record whether somebody is M or F. They are afraid that this will make discrimination against women more difficult to reveal and therefore more difficult to tackle. There are also differences of opinion between, for example, gay men and lesbian women about whether or not to allow surrogacy.
At such a moment it is interesting that 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 that creates an undesirable 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 everyone recognizes 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 Color, the flag is not complete without an extra brown and black stripe. I understand that because the current situation is indeed not clear enough.
But I would rather see it differently solved.
Smoothing out differences
The colours of the rainbow flag do not stand for groups or tendencies but for core values, symbols of our collective strength. On the contrary, they want to smooth out the differences and show that we, as LGBTI+-movement, can go for one goal. If you add colours that are clearly linked to one group, that message of ‘together strong’ is gone. Because why shouldn’t the colours or the symbol 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?
Instead of more unity, I see more discussion and more division. Hence my idea: give the gay men their own flag. A flag with colors that are clearly different from the rainbow flag, eliminating any confusion. Then the rainbow flag itself can again be the connecting symbol of the whole LGBTI+ family.
This text is a translation of a text originally written in Dutch. As the translation is generated by machines, not all translations will be perfect. The original can be found here: http://brunodelille.eu/red-de-regenboog-zizo/