The city of Philadelphia has unveiled a new design for the LGBTQ Pride flag that features two additional stripes in its iconic rainbow — one black, one brown — to recognize queer people of color. The eight-striped banner was created by Philadelphia-based advertising and PR agency Tierney, for #MoreColorMorePride, a new inclusivity campaign launched by the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs to coincide with Pride Month.
The original rainbow flag was created in 1978 by the late Gilbert Baker, but “so much has happened since then,” reads a statement on #MoreColorMorePride’s website. “A lot of good, but there’s more we can do. Especially when it comes to recognizing people of color in the LGBTQ+ community. To fuel this important conversation, we’ve expanded the colors of the flag to include black and brown.
“It may seem like a small step. But together we can make big strides toward a truly inclusive community.”
The effort is intended to address diversity issues in the global LGBTQ community, but the gesture carries a particular significance in Philadelphia. The city has struggled to deal with racism and discrimination in its Gayborhood district that have been ongoing problems for decades: earlier this year, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights published a lengthy report on how LGBTQ people of color, women, and transgender individuals “often feel unwelcome and unsafe” in the Center City neighborhood. Bars in particular contribute to the problem, the report states, as most are owned by white, cisgendered, males who create environments that cater to those who identify similarly. The owners and staff of 11 businesses were subsequently required to undergo training in anti-discrimination laws.
The city raised the new flag last week at City Hall, but while many have welcomed and celebrated its presence, others have criticized the design for politicizing the iconic symbol, with some even sharing their thoughts on social media with the hashtag #NotMyFlag. (It’s worth pointing out that many of these dissenters appear to be white men.) Pride flags have actually featured an appended, symbolic stripe in the past, as Amanda Kerri writes for The Advocate: many flew with a black stripe at the height of the AIDS epidemic, to represent those in the community lost to the disease. For those who support Philadelphia’s inclusive new version and want to display it in some form, #MoreColorMorePride has downloadable images of it so you can make posters, shirts, and even pins.
This new flag actually has the same number of stripes as Baker’s original flag, which featured hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo/blue, and violet. His chosen colors symbolized, respectively, sexuality, life, healing, the sun, nature, art, harmony, and spirit. Today, the rainbow flag we see most often shows just six stripes because hot pink proved too expensive for mass production, and Baker decided to combine turquoise and blue into one royal blue. The Museum of Modern Art acquired his original for its design collection in 2015.