Familiarizing yourself with LGBTQ+ symbols


by editorial staff

For centuries, LGBTQ+ communities and individuals have been using symbols, slogans, terms, and languages to communicate, create a sense of belonging, and champion their rights to exist in equality.


by editorial staff

For centuries, LGBTQ+ communities and individuals have been using symbols, slogans, terms, and languages to communicate, create a sense of belonging, and champion their rights to exist in equality.

Whether it’s to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, to communicate safely in a hostile environment, or simply to bond with other members of the community, symbols, and visual language can be powerful tools for both individuals and groups.

From the pink triangle used during the Nazi regime, to the more recent rainbow pride flag, the symbols have served as powerful tools to bring visibility to the LGBTQ+ community and to bring attention to the fight for equal rights.

In this post, we explore the meaning and historic context of some of the most commonly used LGBTQ+ symbols, flags and icons, and how they have been used to build communities and promote acceptance and understanding.

The below symbols, displayed in alphabetical order, are from:




Asexual flag

The flag for the Asexual Community was created in 2010 by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

Asexual can be an umbrella term and each color in this flag also represents something unique. Black stands for asexuality. Gray represents demisexuality, for those who develop sexual attraction to someone only after forming a deep emotional bond with them. White stands for the allies of the community. Purple represents the entire community of asexual people.

Bisexual pride flag

The Bisexual Pride Flag was created in 1998 by Michael Page. His idea for the flag represents pink and blue blending to make purple. The way that bisexual people can blend into the straight community and the gay community.

The colors of the flag also represent attraction to different genders. The pink symbolizes attraction to the same gender, while the blue represents attraction to a different gender. The purple represents attraction to two or more genders, the definition of bisexuality.

gay man

Inspired by the Mars symbol (the symbol for a male organism or man) the above is the symbol often used by gay men.
♂ is the standard sex symbol for male. As the previous, this symbol comes from classical astrology, and symbolizes the planet of Mars. It is often considered to be a pictorial representation of a shield and spear, which signified the Greek god of Ares (or Mars as he was known in Roman times).


A neutrois or neuter symbol. Based on Venus and Mars symbols, but with no prongs. It is the symbol used on the yellow and purple intersex flag.

intersex flag

This flag went through a variety of iterations before the current Intersex Flag emerged. Previous versions embraced the rainbow that is often associated with queer pride, while others used colors like blue and pink, which are found on the Transgender Flag.

In 2013, Morgan Carpenter chose the colors yellow and purple for the intersex flag. Morgan moved away from the rainbow symbolism and selected these colors because neither is associated with the social constructs of the gender binary.

The circle, perfect and unbroken, represents the wholeness of intersex people. It is a reminder that intersex people are perfect the way they are or choose to be.

Intersex, Transgender

This symbol is based only on the male and female symbol being linked. Sometimes it is used to symbolize transgender.

Lesbian woman

Inspired by the Venus symbol (the symbol for a female organism or woman) the above is the symbol often used by lesbian women.
♀ is the standard symbol for a female. This symbol comes from astrology, where it represents the planet of Venus. The symbol is often considered to be a pictorial representation of a bronze mirror with a handle, which signified the Greek goddess of Aphrodite (or Venus as she was known in Roman times).


It is common to see these symbols used to represent both non-binary and genderqueer people.

The use of the ‘x’ follows the rise of the letter x to represent non-binary people both legally and in titles. The x is deliberately placed in a different position from the male and female arrows to show a difference between them.

Pansexual flag

The Pansexual Flag was created in 2010. The pink on the flag represents attraction to women, blue represents attraction to men, and yellow stands for attraction to those who don’t identify with either gender.

pink triangle

The pink triangle is seen as a symbol for gay power and pride, however, it was originally intended as a badge of shame.

In Nazi Germany, a downward-pointing pink triangle was sewn onto the shirts of gay men in concentration camps to identify and further dehumanize them.
Similar to people of the Jewish faith, who were forced to identify themselves with yellow stars, gay men in concentration camps had to wear a large pink triangle. If you were Jewish and gay, a pink triangle would be superimposed on a yellow triangle.

Other symbols included brown triangles, which were used for Gypsies, red for political prisoners, green for criminals, blue for immigrants, purple for Jehovah’s Witnesses and black for “asocial” people, including prostitutes and lesbians.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that activists would reclaim the symbol as one of liberation.

progress pride flag

Given the evolving nature of the LGBTQ+ community and society at large, the Progress Pride Flag integrates many flags into one. It has been redesigned to place a greater emphasis on inclusion and progression.

This modern version of the Pride Flag now includes stripes to represent the experiences of people of color, as well as stripes to represent people who identify as transgender, gender nonconforming (GNC) and/or undefined.

The Progress Pride Flag includes the colors of the Transgender Flag, as well as black and brown stripes harkening back to the 2017 Philadelphia Pride Flag, which sought to further represent the queer and trans identities of black and brown people. Those two stripes also represent those living with HIV/AIDS, people who have passed away from the virus and the overall stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS that remains today.

rainbow flag

The Rainbow Flag is one of the most known symbols associated with the LGBTQ+ movement. The Rainbow Flag, known also as the Rainbow Pride Flag, was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Celebration. However, the flag has since gone on to represent the wide spectrum of marginalized persons and sexualized identities around the world, especially in their efforts for recognition, self-empowerment and equal rights. The flag is not a true rainbow, instead all the colours are depicted as horizontal stripes. 

Inspired by the classic song "Over the Rainbow" from the 1939 film The Wizard from Oz, Baker created a Rainbow Flag to represent the LGBTQ community. Each color in the flag also had a specific meaning. The original flag had eight colours: Pink which symbolized sexuality, Red for life, Orange for healing, Yellow for the sun, Green for nature, Turquoise for art, Indigo for harmony and Violet for the spirit of LGBTQ people. The next version of the flag removed the pink due to a shortage of fabric.

The 6-color contemporary version, which has been used since 1979, is known as one of the most well-known and used LGBTQ+ flags throughout history. In this version, the Turquoise and Indigo were changed into a single stripe of Royal Blue. 

So, the 6-color flag now goes as follows:
Red= Life
Orange = Healing
Yellow = Sunlight
Green = Nature
Royal Blue = Harmony
Violet = Spirit


This icon is the most used symbols to represent transgender.

The symbol is a combination of the male symbol ♂and the female symbol♀, as well as the male symbol with a stroke through it.

Transgender Flag

The Transgender Flag was first created in 1999 by Monica Helms, a transgender woman. Light blue and pink are featured because they’re the traditional colors associated with baby boys and girls, respectively. The white stands for those who are transitioning or those who don´t feel identified with any gender.