The Rainbow Flag and other Pride Flags as a symbol of solidarity and equality

Written by Christina Pichler, May 25, 2023

During Pride month, the colourful, eye-catching and positive rainbow flags decorate numerous cities, buildings and apartments. These colourful symbols stand for solidarity with and equal rights for the LGBTQI+ community because everybody – no matter their sexual orientation or identity – is perfect the way they are. In this article, we explain what the Pride Flag stands for exactly and show you all the different pride flags.

Love, identity, and acceptance: The meaning of LGBTQ

What does LGBTQ actually mean? LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for different sexual orientations or identities. Oftentimes, you also come across labels such as LGBTQI+ or LGBTQIA*. These letters stand for:

  • Lesbian (or sapphic): Women love women.
  • Gay: Men love men.
  • Bisexual: One person loves men and women.
  • Transgender: A person identifies with a different gender than the one they were born with.
  • Queer: Umbrella term for all sexual orientations and gender identities that do not conform to cis- and heteronormative standards
  • Intersex: Intersex people have male and female sexual characteristics.
  • Asexual: Asexual people do not feel sexually attracted to other people and oftentimes feel no or little desire for sex.
  • The + and * are wildcards for all kinds of sexual orientations and identities within the LGBTQ community.

Here are some other important notions in connection with the LGBTQI+ community:

  • Cisgender refers to people that identify with the gender assigned at birth.
  • Heteronormativity is the social assumption that the biological sex and social gender always match and that there are only two genders (male and female).
  • Intersectionality describes the oppression by several social systems. (e.g. racism, sexism, homophobia)

The meaning of the pride flag: A symbol of acceptance and inclusion

The rainbow flag, also called pride flag, plays an important role in the LGBTQI+ community. It is a symbol of connection and solidarity as well as freedom and peace. With this flag you can express your pride and/or support for everybody who is proud and loud about who they are and who they love.

The perfect opportunity to wave your flag is in June, the Pride month! This flag is the ideal symbol to express your positivity and support of the LGBTQ community. If you decide to join the Rainbow Parade, the Pride Run or other LGBTQ events in June, you should definitely bring your flag. Here is more information on Pride month, the Vienna Pride and countless events!

From red to violet: What do the colours of the rainbow flag mean?

The rainbow flag is as colourful and diverse as we humans are. Did you ever ask yourself: “What do these colours even mean?”. The colours of the pride flag are no coincidence, but every colour represents a different aspect of life and self-empowerment.

  • Colour
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Violet
  • Meaning
  • Life, light
  • Healing, health
  • Sun, positivity
  • Nature
  • Harmony, clarity
  • Spirituality, spirit, soul

The progress pride flag: Advancing the rainbow flag

The rainbow flag with its six horizontal stripes has been representing the pride and acceptance of the LGBTQ community for a long time. You will see this flag at every parade during Pride month. In the meantime, new symbols and colours were added to the original rainbow flag to better represent the queer, transgender people and people of colour: the Progress Pride Flag.

Daniel Qasar, a non-binary graphic designer from the US, has updated the traditional flag in 2018 to mark the progress in the fight for LGBTQ rights and to underline the necessity to continue fighting. The Progress Pride Flag contains five additional colours in a triangle on the left side of the flag.

  • Brown and black represent people of colour and serve as a symbol for the fight against racism.
  • White, baby blue and rose symbolize the transgender and transsexual community. Traditionally rose is associated with girls and blue with boys (cis-gender) and white represents transgender and transsexuals.

Colourful diversity: The meaning of different LGBTQ flags

The LGBTQIA+ community as well as the different pride flags are even more diverse than you might think. We want to give you a little bit of insight into this colourful world of pride.

  • Heterosexual/Straight is the sexual attraction to the opposite sex.
  • Lesbian/sapphic women are into women.
  • Gay men feel sexually attracted to men.
  • Homosexual is the umbrella term for people who are attracted to the same sex.
  • Bisexual people feel attracted to more than one sex.
  • Pansexual people feel attracted to people regardless of their gender.
  • Asexual people feel no or little sexual attraction towards other people.
  • Polysexual people feel attracted to several, but not all genders.
  • Non-binary people don’t identify completely as men or women.
  • Intersexual people have male and female sex characteristics.
  • Transsexual people do not identify with the sex assigned at birth.
  • Aromantic people are not interested in romantic relationships.
  • Gender-queer is an umbrella term for all people who don’t conform to gender-binary standards.

The history of the pride flag: Gilbert Baker and the origin of the rainbow flag

Gilbert Baker, a US artist and activist, designed the Rainbow Flag for the Gay Freedom Days 1978. A positive and life-rejoicing symbol for the LGBTQ community was needed because up to that point the Rosa Winkel – a mark used for homosexuals in concentration camps during the Nazis’ regime – had been their symbol. The designer has never trademarked his work because he wanted to share this symbol with the whole world. Today the Rainbow Flag is known worldwide.

The original colours of the rainbow flag

Originally, Gilbert Baker wanted to use eight colours for the Rainbow Flag. In addition to the six colours we know today, he wanted to add pink and turquois. It was hard to print pink and turquois was removed for symmetrical reasons. Therefore, the artist settled on six colours. Pink represented sexuality and turquois stood for art and magic.

The pace flag: Confusingly colourful similarity

Another flag looks very similar to the Rainbow Flag: the PACE Flag, also called the Anti-War-Flag. This flag was designed in 1961 in Italy and is the symbol for the peace movement. Similar to the Rainbow Flag, the Pace Flag includes the seven colours of the rainbow. You can see the following colours from top to bottom on the Pace Flag: violet, dark blue, light blue, green, yellow, orange and red. (Reminder: The Rainbow Flag is the exact opposite, minus one blue shade.) Oftentimes, the Anti-War-Flag also has a label (e.g. Peace, Frieden, Paix, Pace, etc.).

Positive & diverse: General meanings of the rainbow

Humans have been gazing into the sky to marvel at rainbows for as long as there has been rain and sunshine. Germanic tribes thought that rainbows were bridges between the Gods and humans. In the bible, the rainbow is also a bridge between God and humans. There is a myth in Irish folklore about the peaceful leprechauns who hide their gold at the end of the rainbow. The colours of the rainbow are tightly connected to the chakras, the energetic centres in our bodies.

In general, rainbows stand for hope, trust and peace. In the darkest of moments, a little bit of light comes around and turns grey rain into a colourful, magical rainbow. For some people, a rainbow symbolizes a new beginning and self-fulfilment.

Wave your Pride Flag and express your own sexual identity and orientation or your support of the LGBTQ community! During Pride month you can spot rainbow flags all over the place. Every year since 2001 the trams in Vienna are decorated with rainbow flags. Numerous public buildings also display the colourful flags. At some crossroads, the zebra crossings are coloured in the colours of the rainbow flag the whole year.

If you need to talk about your own sexual identity or orientation with somebody, these LGBTQI+ counselling centres are the right address for you!


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