Flag of Many Colours
By Collin Wynter
The Pride flag. An emblem of the LGBT* community since I came out. Six colours: red, orange, yellow, green blue, purple. Life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic/ art, serenity/ spirit. There is a history to this flag. In Rainbow Warrior, Gilbert Baker, the creator of the original Pride Flag-instigated from a challenge by Harvey Milk- provides the details to it. The flag, its colours and the amount of stripes, has changed over the years. As sub groups within the rainbow community have grown, new flags have arisen as a rallying call for like minded individuals to find a home, to find a camaraderie, with one another; bears, trans, intersex, to name a few.
The Pride flag itself was about ideas, concepts, hopes and dreams, versus the individual groups who had flags for identity. It is when the Pride flag itself started to be exhibited in the community with identity characteristics refashioned upon it, that I became concerned.
I was on my local pride board and had the opportunity to attend a newcomers pride meeting, where our president initiated the idea of adding black and brown stripes to the Pride flag. This had already been seen exhibited in some chapters of pride organizations. Seemingly unaware of the pitfall to create a flag with identities exhibited on it, the newcomers willingly explained it to him. The flag was not meant to be about identity. Why would there be black and brown stripes but not white? Why racialize the pride flag?
Over a year later, (I was no longer with the local pride organization), CBC news did a piece involving a non-binary, person of colour, and educator in a middle school, named Chantal Shivanna Ramraj, who initiated a change to the school’s participation with the Pride movement. Instead of using the Pride flag with its six clouds, they were instead to us a more apparently ‘inclusive’ flag. This flag had the black and brown stripes, as well as the non-binary and trans stripes, added to it.
In the piece entitled: New, inclusive Pride flag raised at Winnipeg school, by CBC News (no author credited), Ramraj, who also oversees the gay-straight alliance, states:
“By raising this flag, we are intentionally giving support to those who need it the most and we’re acknowledging that there are inequities in our society that are built into our political, economic and social systems.”
If you are confused as to where the mention of the gay rights movement is, I encourage you to read the piece for yourself. I struggle to find any connection. Instead, it appears that the gay rights movement has been co-opted and replaced with a neo-Marxist ideology intertwined with postmodernism/ post structuralism queer theory.
Although the above seems like an extremely positive message, there is something pernicious about a non-gay person leading a gay-straight alliance at a school, reconstituting a flag under the guise of being more ‘inclusive’, while highlighting certain identities; thereby discluding others. One might state the the rainbow colours themselves represent gay white folk. But let’s think about that idea for a moment.
As was introduced at the beginning of this piece, the Pride flag colours most certainly do not represent gay white folk. They represent concepts and ideas. Imagine for a second, if when the Pride flag was created by Baker, as a symbol to the gay rights movement, that it was meant to identify white people. The term gay does not in effect provide any shield to what would obviously have been overt racialization, and one could meaningfully argue racism, of the flag, and thus the movement itself.
There would have been an uproar in the community- rightly so. I would have stood along with any person calling for that flag to be burned. But that is not the intent of the Pride flag. It never was, is not, and never will be.
Racism, discrimination and disclusion may occur at the individual level, from a persons poor state of ethics, or may occur at a group level for obvious reasons (eg: women’s groups are for women). But under the Pride flag, all were invited. These were concepts and ideas anyone could share in. As the gay rights movement found its footing, as more folks contributed to it, as it became more accepted, so did it expand. More flags were devised and the “alphabet soup” added more letters. The gay and lesbian rights movement changed from LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) to LGBT (adding trans) to 2SLGBTTQIA*+ and many variations of this. Please feel free to explore the acronym at will.
The movement was driven by the desire for equal rights and representation of gay persons within society. Representation is a broad topic that can be evaluated at another point. But suffice to say, it does not mean getting a seat at the table because of your immutable characteristics. It means being represented equally in the protections of the law. It does not mean being recognized as others as who you are. That relationship is something that is bargained every step of the way.
The gay rights movement did not coerce society into accepting them. They instead presented themselves as fully functioning individuals and organizations of people, fully intwined within it. They used the kinetic energy of the civil rights movement that opened the doors to a truly more inclusive society, to “come out”, and be proud of who they were in public. No more hiding. No more playing games. Martin Duberman chronicles some of the lives that were involved in the development of the Pride movement, in his book Stonewall.
The trans rights and black lives matter movement are noble causes, but they are distinct from gay and lesbian rights. The latter being about equal rights based on ones sexual orientation, while the former is engaged in equity rights based off of gender and racial identities respectively. Notice the difference. Equal rights, meaning equality of opportunity and representation under the law; Equity meaning equality of outcome, demanded through the use of force, if necessary. Sexuality is contrasted with identity. The identity ideologues appear to be using the Pride movement as a front. They are supplanting the gay rights ideas with their own ideology: gender identity and racial identity.
A grade six student in the piece is quoted as saying:
“Adding the trans flag and brown and black stripes to the Pride flag is to represent people of colour and to represent trans people. It needs to be equality for everyone and that isn’t happening right now,” she said.
This is a soft-coup, a war of ideas. Of words. You must embed your teachings within the school system so the kids grow up under that cloud of indoctrination.
Ramari is quoted at the end of the piece saying:
“I know there are so many schools that would love to follow suit, and we will help them find that new flag.”
The gay-straight alliance was designed as a school group for kids by kids who were gay and their friends. It was not, is not, meant to be an indoctrination centre for neo-Marxist, post-structuralist queer theory. It was meant to be a place where kids are to be able to be themselves. But soon kids may soon not be allowed to be themselves any longer. As being gay is shamed away under this new orthodoxy of trans and gender identity ideology. Along with the dogma of critical race theory disseminating racism to shame ‘whiteness’, our liberal democracy of values based off true equality are under attack. And when our cultural symbols are appropriated and changed- co-opted for use by another group- without pushback, there is concern that the movement itself may be in danger. Gay rights are inalienable. As are all rights. As is sexual orientation.