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Leather Pride Flag

The leather pride flag has nine horizontal stripes. The first, third, seventh, and ninth are black; the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth are blue; and the central stripe is white. In the upper left is a red heart tilted slightly to the left.

First seen at a Mr. Leather contest in Chicago on May 28, 1989, the flag rapidly gained popularity and has become a fixture at pride parades and leather events.

Bear Pride Flag

The gay male subculture of Bears, masculine, often hirsute and large men, whose ideal of male beauty is often counter to that espoused by mainstream gay men, has its own pride flag.

Several versions of the bear pride flag have appeared since the early 1990s. All feature at least one black or brown pawprint. Some early varieties had two. The background consists of stripes--usually horizontal but sometimes diagonal--in shades of brown, tan, and yellow representing hair colors. Sometimes gray or white stripes are included.

The flag has been displayed at Bear Rendezvous gatherings and in pride parades.


All of these signs and emblems serve important functions. They render the glbtq community visible and express our vibrancy and spirit. They also promote a sense of belonging which is very valuable to individuals who may feel marginalized by the larger society.

Linda Rapp

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literature >> Overview:  Amazons

Historically either distrusted as agents of chaos or admired as examples of female power and intelligence, Amazons were depicted as heterosexual until the twentieth century, when lesbians adopted them as symbols of powerful women living without men.

literature >> Overview:  Decadence

Nineteenth-century Decadent literature either describes aspects of decadent life and society or reflects the decadent literary aesthetic.

social sciences >> Overview:  Nazism and the Holocaust

As part of its agenda to preserve an "Aryan master race," Nazism persecuted homosexuals as "asocial parasites"; more than 100,000 men were arrested on homosexual charges during the Nazi years, with 5,000-15,000 gay men incarcerated in concentration camps.

social sciences >> ACT UP

Using bold images and confrontational tactics, ACT UP worked to promote awareness of AIDS and challenge the complacency of politicians and government officials in the early years of the epidemic.

arts >> Cadmus, Paul

American painter Paul Cadmus is best known for the satiric innocence of his frequently censored paintings of burly men in skin-tight clothes, but he also created works that celebrate same-sex domesticity.

arts >> Galindo, Rudy

The first openly gay man and the first Mexican-American to win the United States figure skating championship, Rudy Galindo, himself HIV-positive, has worked hard to increase awareness of AIDS, especially in minority communities.

social sciences >> Gay Activists Alliance

An important organization of the early post-Stonewall era, the Gay Activists Alliance, which flourished from 1969 to 1974, strove to give gay men and lesbians visibility in American politics.

social sciences >> Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

The largest glbtq political organization in the United States, the Human Rights Campaign has emerged as the leading national organization representing glbtq concerns.

social sciences >> Matlovich, Leonard P., Jr.

By challenging the United States Air Force's ban and gay and lesbian service members, Leonard P. Matlovich, Jr. became one of the glbtq community's most visible activists in the 1970s.

social sciences >> Paragraph 175

Paragraph 175 was the German law prohibiting sex between men; strengthened by the Nazis, it was the statue under which homosexuals were sent to concentration camps.

social sciences >> Pink Triangle

Originally a mark of criminalization and persecution under the Nazis, the pink triangle was later reclaimed by gays both as a memorial and as a celebration of sexual identity.

arts >> Rainbow Flag

Designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, the rainbow flag has become a popular (and sometimes controversial), internationally recognized symbol of gay and lesbian pride.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.


Baker, Gilbert, and John O'Brien. "The Prideful Story of Our Rainbow Flag." IGLA (International Gay & Lesbian Archives) Bulletin 10 (Spring/Summer 1994).

Dynes, Wayne. "Color Symbolism." Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. Wayne R. Dynes, ed. New York: Garland, 1990. 249-50.

Hogan, Steve, and Lee Hudson. "Lambda." Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1998. 341.

Jensen, Erik N. "The Pink Triangle and Political Consciousness: Gays, Lesbians, and the Memory of Nazi Persecution." Journal of the History of Sexuality 11 (January/April 2002): 319-349.

Kogon, Eugen. The Theory and Practice of Hell. Heinz Norden, trans. New York: Berkley Books, 1998.

"Labrys." Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit. Randy P. Luncunas Conner, David Hatfield Sparks, and Mariya Sparks, eds. London and New York: Cassell, 1997. 211.

Lafferty, Elaine. "Uh-ohhh! Tinky Winky's Sexuality under Spotlight." The Irish Times (February 11, 1999): 12.

McAllister, Bill. "A Cause for Stamps." Washington Post (November 26, 1993): N86.

"Other Miscellaneous Symbols." Rainbow Icon Archive.

Page, Michael. "The History of the Bi Pride Flag."

"PrideFest Key West."

Stevens, Christy. "Symbols." Lesbian Histories and Cultures. Bonnie Zimmerman, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 747-48.

"What does our logo mean?" The Rainbow Sash Movement.

Winn, Steven. "An Epic Drama Unfolding." San Francisco Chronicle (June 9, 1991): E1.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Symbols  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2003  
    Date Last Updated May 24, 2008  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2003, glbtq, inc.  


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