Evolution of Lesbian Pride Flags: From the Labrys to the Sunset

Lesbians have a rich history of flags and symbols, which represent them as one of the largest groups within the LGBTQ+ community. However, the evolution of these symbols has been marked by controversy and resistance.

In 1999, graphic designer Sean Campbell created the first documented lesbian pride flag. Dubbed the “Labrys Lesbian Flag,” it featured a lavender background inspired by the poetry of Sappho, a black inverted triangle that Nazis used to identify “anti-social” women, and the labrys, a mythological weapon wielded by the Amazons, which became a symbol for lesbian feminists in the 1970s. Although this design looked impressive, it never gained enough traction, and in recent years, it has been adopted by TERFS (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists), leading many to avoid associating with it.

In 2015, the Pink Flag emerged on Deviantart, derived from the “Lipstick Lesbian Flag” designed in 2010. This flag featured horizontal stripes in a gradient of pinks and white, reminiscent of Gilbert Baker’s Rainbow Pride Flag. Although it gained popularity in 2016, it faced resistance from lesbians, who felt excluded from the femininity associated with the all-pink colour scheme.

In 2018, Emily Gwen posted her idea for a new lesbian flag on Tumblr, which quickly gained acceptance and spread throughout the lesbian community. Her design, sometimes called the Sunset Lesbian Flag, featured seven horizontal stripes that formed a gradient from deep orange at the top to deep pink at the bottom. Each stripe had a symbolic meaning, starting with gender non-conformity and ending with femininity. Although the original design had seven stripes, it was later simplified to five stripes to make it more consistent with other pride flags in the LGBTQ+ community.

While there is no official lesbian flag, the Sunset Lesbian Flag has become the most commonly used symbol for the lesbian community. Despite the controversy surrounding the design and adoption of these flags, they continue to play a crucial role in representing the lesbian community’s diversity and resilience.