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Symbols  
 
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Not everyone has supported the use of the pink triangle as a pride symbol. Senior editor Sara Hart of the magazine 10 Percent wrote against the symbol in 1993, saying that it trivialized the suffering of gay and lesbian victims of the Holocaust. Readers generally disagreed. In letters to the editor, they cited the ongoing struggle against homophobia, anti-gay legislation, and the lack of government response during the Reagan administration to the AIDS epidemic.

The pink triangle has become a symbol of pride and determination as well as of remembrance. As Erik N. Jensen wrote, "The pink triangle has served multiple functions: it has united a diverse population of gay men and women, mobilized political action, and provided an interpretive framework for contemporary experiences."

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Black Triangle

Although Paragraph 175 applied only to gay men, and most of the homosexual victims of Nazism were men, nevertheless some lesbians were also incarcerated in Nazi Germany's concentration camps. Lesbians in the camps wore the black triangle of the "asocial" category of prisoner, so designated because they failed to adhere to the Aryan ideal of womanhood, a wife dedicated to "Kinder, Küche, und Kirche" ("children, kitchen, and church").

While non-lesbians were also included in the asocial category, lesbians in Germany and the United States began reclaiming the black triangle as a pride symbol in the 1980s. Many advocates of its use felt the need for a woman-specific symbol. Some argued that the exclusive use of the pink triangle not only hid the lesbian victims of the Holocaust from the view of history but also marginalized women in the contemporary gay rights movement.

The black triangle is not a symbol as ubiquitous as the pink triangle, but it also stands as a memorial to victims of oppression and a sign of commitment to the struggle for dignity and human rights.

Other Triangles

The triangle has also been adopted as a pride symbol by bisexual and transgender people.

The bisexual symbol consists of two triangles, a pink one in front and slightly to the left of a blue.

The transgender pride symbol is a pink triangle with a blue figure that incorporates the signs for Mars and Venus. In the center is a blue circle. An arrow pointing to the upper right corner completes the sign of Mars. A cross extending toward the point at the bottom of the triangle makes the sign of Venus. A crossed arrow pointing toward the upper right corner of the triangle combines the two.

Perhaps the most absurd moment in the history of the triangle symbol came in 1999 when conservative Christian televangelist Jerry Falwell in his National Liberty Journal issued a "Parents Alert: Tinky Winky Comes out of the Closet." The object of Falwell's scorn was a character on the Teletubbies television show, a British program shown on PBS in the United States whose target audience is two-year-olds.

The teletubbies are colorful, fuzzy little creatures with antennas on their heads. Falwell, noting that Tinky Winky's antenna is triangular and further observing that Tinky Winky is purple and sometimes carries a purse, concluded that Tinky Winky was gay. "These subtle depictions are no doubt intentional," said Falwell, who added that "as a Christian I felt that role-modeling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children."

Falwell's condemnation of Tinky Winky met with general derision. Typical of public comment was Elaine Lafferty's lead in an article in The Irish Times: "Now that the question of whether the U. S. presidency will survive seems to be subsiding, a new question is threatening to surface in America: Is Tinky Winky gay?"

Lambda

First used as a sign of gay pride in 1970, the lambda has become a widely recognized symbol.

New York City's Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) chose the lower-case lambda at the suggestion of Tom Doerr, a graphic artist. The GAA explained that since the lambda stood for "a complete exchange of energy" in chemistry and physics, it was an apt symbol of potential for change. They proclaimed it a sign of "a commitment among men and women to achieve and defend their human rights as homosexual citizens."

Other meanings have become attached to the lambda. Some have noted that it is used in science to represent wavelength and thus may stand for a specifically gay and lesbian perspective or "wavelength." Others have referred to the use of the letter on the shields or battle flags of ancient Greek regiments whose warriors were accompanied into battle by younger men, possibly their lovers. Still others associate the lambda with the first letter of the word liberation.

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