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This site last updated on 12/31/2004

History of the Bear Flag!
The International Bear Brotherhood Flag has a rich
history and has grown to be used as the symbol of
our community internationally!





The International
Bear Brotherhood
Flag   TM

Copyright 1995 VA 763-760

The four original templates displayed at the Bears of Summer Weekend sponsored by the 

Chesapeake Bay Bear Club in  1995.  

 


Early in 1996, Craig Byrnes, known to many Washington, DC-area bears as Mr. Baltimore Bear Cub �93 and Mr. TBLC of Virginia �94, began presenting area clubs and organizations with a new flag�the �INTERNATIONAL BEAR BROTHERHOOD FLAG.� The flag didn�t appear out of nowhere. In fact, this new symbol of bear brotherhood had an earlier, interesting development.

Craig�s work towards earning an undergraduate degree in psychology involved designing a senior project that would explore and discuss the bear culture that has exploded since the early 1980s.

As a member of the Chesapeake Bay Bears (CBB), he had become involved with first-hand experience of the growing bear movement. During the time of of his senior project development, Craig thought it might be fitting to design a flag that would best represent the bear community (since there is no �official� bear flag) and include it with the results of his research. Craig was encouraged by his ex-husbear Bob Nicholson, an Alumni Member of the District of Columbia Bear Club (DCBC). 

Bob bought a deluxe box of crayons for Craig's birthday, and Craig began his search of suitable colors for his flag. Craig constructed the original flag drawing from the colors he selected. After scanning the drawing, Craig enlisted DCBC member Paul Witzkoske to create four computer-generated templates from the original artwork made in crayon from which the four variations were sewing machine constructed of lining material. Bob spent several hours on a sewing machine making the first set of 3' x 5' flags out of simple lining material. Craig won approval to display the four prototype flags at the CBB �Bears of Summer� events in July of 1995. Bears were asked to put a quarter in the appropriate box to indicate which flag they thought would best represent the bear community and the proceeds were donated to CBB to add to its AIDS fundraising collections.

The winning design is the one you find promoted here. It�s a field of simple horizontal stripes with a paw print in the upper left corner�a layout familiar to anyone who has seen the Leather Pride Flag. The colors represent the fur colors and nationalities of bears throughout the world and was designed with inclusivity in mind.
Craig at BEAR INVASION '96   
Bob Nicholson stitched four copies of the winning design out of standard flag nylon. One was sent to a flag manufacturer for the possibility of mass production and distribution to the bear community. Another original was sent to Lurch in San Francisco as a memento of his visit to Washington, DC and his participation as Master of Ceremonies for the�Bears of Summer� contest. Paul was presented an original hand-sewn flag for assisting Craig in making his design into a computer generated graphic, and Craig and Bob kept the last flag as a reminder of the process.

As Craig says, �The �INTERNATIONAL BEAR BROTHERHOOD FLAG� is presented to the bear community with love and gratitude,� and he has been very generous about donating flags to bear clubs all over. But that�s not to mean that he isn�t serious about marketing and selling this new symbol. There are several other �bear flags� out there that have not gained as much recognition, and Craig can tell many stories about the reaction his new symbol has received.

Craig is very serious about getting the flag out and visible. Founder of the company�Bear Manufacturing�has become the nameplate for a whole line of bear-focused products. Craig has also commissioned other Washington-area bears, including the very talented Dave Williams, to create new products for the company as well. Dave created the very popular �Flag Raisers� and �Bear Rip� illustrations which incorporate the INTERNATIONAL BEAR BROTHERHOOD FLAG in ingenious ways.

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the bear community!

Other Flags in the greater lgbt community

Bear Manufacturing is proud to offer this
history of other symbols and flags in our community:


The gay community proudly displays many flags, here is the history behind four of them:  The gay pride flag, the leather pride flag, the transgendered  pride flag, and the bi-sexual pride flag



Gay Cowboy Flag



Canadian Bear Flag




The Transgender Flag


The Leather Flag


The Rainbow Flag

The Rainbow Flag

The Alyson Almanac: A Treasury of Information for the Gay and Lesbian Community describes Rainbow Flag as follows:

In 1978, Gilbert Baker of San Francisco designed and made a flag with six stripes representing the six colors of the rainbow as a symbol of gay and lesbian community pride. Slowly the flag took hold, offering a colorful and optimistic alternative to the more common pink triangle symbol. Today it is recognized by the International Congress of Flag Makers, and is flown in lesbian and gay pride marches worldwide. In 1989, the rainbow flag received nationwide attention after John Stout successfully sued his landlords in West Hollywood, when they prohibited him from displaying the flag from his apartment balcony. Meanwhile, Baker is still in San Francisco, and still making more flags.

The Rainbow Flag by Steven W. Anderson appeared in GAZE Magazine (Minneapolis), #191, on 28 May 1993, p. 25:

Color has long played an important role in our community's expression of pride. In Victorian England, for example, the color green was associated with homosexuality. The color purple (or, more accurately, lavender) became popularized as a symbol for pride in the late 1960s - a frequent post-Stonewall catchword for the gay community was "Purple Power". And, of course, there's the pink triangle. Although it was first used in Nazi Germany to identify gay males in concentration camps, the pink triangle only received widespread use as a gay pop icon in the early 1980s. But the most colorful of our symbols is the Rainbow Flag, and its rainbow of colors - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple - represents the diversity of our community.

The first Rainbow Flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco artist, who created the flag in response to a local activist's call for the need of a community symbol. (This was before the pink triangle was popularly used as a symbol of pride.) Using the five-striped "Flag of the Race" as his inspiration, Baker designed a flag with eight stripes: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. According to Baker, those colors represented, respectively: sexuality, life, healing, sun, nature, art, harmony, and spirit. Baker dyed and sewed the material for the first flag himself - in the true spirit of Betsy Ross.

Baker soon approached San Francisco's Paramount Flag Company about mass producing and selling his "gay flag". Unfortunately, Baker had hand-dyed all the colors, and since the color "hot pink" was not commercially available, mass production of his eight-striped version became impossible. The flag was thus reduced to seven stripes.

In November 1978, San Francisco's gay community was stunned when the city's first openly gay supervisor, Harvey Milk, was assassinated, Wishing to demonstrate the gay community's strength and solidarity in the aftermath of this tragedy, the 1979 Pride Parade Committee decided to use Baker's flag. The committee eliminated the indigo stripe so they could divide the colors evenly along the parade route - three colors on one side of the street and three on the other. Soon the six colors were incorporated into a six-striped version that became popularized and that, today, is recognized by the International Congress of Flag Makers.

In San Francisco, the Rainbow Flag is everywhere: it can be seen hanging from apartment windows throughout the city (most notably in the Castro district), local bars frequently display the flag, and Rainbow Flag banners are hung from lampposts on Market Street (San Francisco's main avenue) throughout Pride Month. Visiting the city, one can not help but feel a tremendous sense of pride at seeing this powerful symbol displayed so prominently.

Although the Rainbow Flag was initially used as a symbol of pride only in San Francisco, it has received increased visibility in recent years. Today, it is a frequent sight in a number of other cities as well - New York, West Hollywood, and Amsterdam, among them. Even in the Twin Cities, the flag seems to be gaining in popularity. Indeed, the Rainbow Flag reminds us that ours is a diverse community - composed of people with a variety of individual tastes of which we should all be proud.

Sources used for this article were found at Quatrefoil Library in St. Paul, and include: "Vexed by Rainbows", by Paul Zomcheck, in "Bay Area Reporter" (June 26, 1986); "Rainbow Flag" in "The Alyson Almanac" (1989); and "The Rainbow Flag", in "Parade 90: San Francisco Gay/Lesbian Freedom Day Parade and Celebration" (June 24, 1990)

The Leather Pride Flag

On May 28, 1989, at the International Mister Leather contest in Chicago, Tony
DeBlase presented his design for a Leather Pride Flag. In an editorial in his
Off The Top column in Drummer 131, written before DeBlase's trip to Chicago,
but not on the newsstands until afterwards, he explained something of how the
idea and design for the flag came about.

"The rainbow flag has become the symbol of Gay and Lesbian pride, and I have
been proud to wear it on my clothing, march behind it in parades, and hang it
from my balcony. I was thrilled by the rainbow-colored balloons used in the
opening and closing ceremonies of Gay Games II and the spectacular rainbow of
balloons that arched over the main stage at the G&L pride rally here in San
Francisco a couple of years ago."

"For the 20th anniversary of Stonewall, I felt that the time was right for
the Leather men and women, who have been participating in these same parades
and events more and more visibly in recent years, to have a similar, simple,
elegant banner that would serve as a symbol of their own identity and
interests. I decided that calling a committee meeting to design it would be
counterproductive, so I just did it. I consulted with most of the staff here
at Drummer, and some of their suggestions were incorporated. I do not expect
this design to be the final form, but [rather] the basis from which a widely
accepted banner will evolve."

"A prototype was constructed and displayed at the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago on May 28. It seemed to be enthusiastically welcomed. I am having a few more flags manufactured. Drummer will be presenting one each to the Leather men and women of New York City and of San Francisco. I have asked GMSMA to be the custodian of the former and The Society of Janus and The Outcasts to be custodians of the latter. With luck, both flags will be ready in time to be carried by the Leather contingents in each of theses two major pride parades. Drummer will also donate flags to the National Leather Association and to Chicago Hellfire Club. Both of these are groups with which I have been intimately involved for quite some time, and both host major events for the Leather and/or SM community."

"The flag is composed of nine horizontal stripes of equal width. From the top and from the bottom, the stripes alternate black and royal blue. The central stripe is white. In the upper left quadrant of the flag is a large red heart. I will leave it to the viewer to interpret the colors and symbols."

"Desmodus Inc. [DeBlase's company, at the time, publisher of Drummer] has a copyright on the design and anyone wishing to use it for purely commercial purposes must receive our written approval. However, we welcome members of the Leather/SM community to use the design for flags, banners, pins, printed material, etc. to be distributed free or sold at cost, or to be used for fund raising for not-for-profit causes that benefit Leather men and women. No permission is required for these uses, but we do ask that you inform us of the use and, where possible, send us samples."

"We have had cloisonn� pins made. These are about 1" wide and are available for $5. Photos of the flag at IML and, hopefully, in the parades as well, will be in Drummer 132."

There was some debate about DeBlase's audacity. How dare he design a flag without convening a committee of important leather men and women? Did he think he would get away with this? Well, no, he didn't intend to "get away with" anything. As he said in the editorial, "I do not expect this design to be the final form," but indignity requires no excuse.

Nonetheless, the enthusiastic welcome the design received at IML was barely the beginning. Before anyone really had a chance to think whether the design should or shouldn't be changed, it was everywhere. In fact, perhaps strangely, Drummer magazine, did not work for the adoption of the flag with anything like the fervor you might expect. The process took on a life of its own and, in effect, ignored the fact that the designer was waiting for feedback and expecting to make changes. The promised pictures in the next issue of Drummer were hardly a push for acceptance.

In the IML coverage, Mister Marcus mentioned the presentation of the flag and that it had already appeared in "gay parades across the country." Marcus also said, "The flag obviously represents the leather/SM fraternity and their caring, loving brotherhood." No pictures of the flag or its presentation at IML were published. What's more, the nine parade pictures published, five of them showing the new flag, were in black and white. The [parade] coverage [also] mentioned that the flag was flown over the Society of Janus booth in San Francisco and that several Portland, OR, leather women had "sewed their own leather pride flag."

The Portland flag followed the DeBlase design exactly. On the back cover of that issue of Drummer, the new IML, Guy Baldwin, and his runners up were pictured in front of the flag. The next Drummer- designer-related appearance of the leather pride flag was in September, on stage at the Mr. Drummer finals, and the flag that graced the stage (along with gay pride flags) appeared on the cover of Drummer 135�just in the background.

The following September, at the next Mr. Drummer contest, one of the most interesting events was the arrival of Clive Platman, a New Zealander in San Francisco to represent Australia in the Mr. Drummer finals. He brought with him a new version of the flag, its first major variant. Over the now-established stripes, Laurie Lane of Laurie Lane's Leather World, had appliqu�d the stars that also appear on Australia's national flag.

By this time there were authorized and unauthorized version of the flag for sale in endless forms: pins, bumper stickers, patches and even Christmas ornaments, but the Aussie flag set off a stir. Everyone began working at variants, some of them great extensions of the flag and its purpose (titleholders' sashes), others downright funny (a Thanksgiving card on which the red heart is replaced by a roast turkey in red). But there was definitely no doubt by the time of the 1991 Drummer contest that the flag was, as DeBlase had hoped, "a widely accepted banner." And, even at this time, Drummer was not pushing the leather pride design. In fact, the only ad for the leather pride design was a small classified ad offering the original pins at $6, 2 for $10.

Now, in 1997, the leather pride flag design is just eight years old�its ninth birthday being at the IML contest in May, 1998 � and it is solidly accepted around the world. Used and reused everywhere, twisted and warped into every shape, wrapped around every kind of product and made of every material from leather to crochet yarn. It has even been worked into the permanent colors of some leather clubs, a use that DeBlase sees as particularly significant, a special level of acceptance.

The original prototype of the flag and many, many examples of the design's application are on exhibit at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago. Among the examples, you could see there are: window stickers, run pins, key chains, beaded safety pins, business cards, jewelry, the logo of Bandanna magazine, the cover of a cookbook, letterhead and a hand-crocheted cock and ball cover (a cozy?). We have also seen the colors and design elements of the leather pride flag used as whip handles and whole whips, worked into clothing designs, done as tattoos and hair dye jobs, and many, many times as cake decoration.

Of course, the leather pride flag has flown as an arch of balloons at any number of events, perhaps completing the circle from the inspiration DeBlase started with to the fully realized emblem we have today.

THE TRANSGENDER FLAG

And finally, an AiB Exclusive--the Transgender Pride Flag (c)1999.  Yes, indeedy--it's about time we had our own symbol to represent the community, ain't it?  Bears have theirs. Leathermen have theirs.  Why can't we have ours?  And might we say that we feel these designs, designed by your friendly neighborhood Captain, embodies all aspects of our identities.  Whether we're transgender or transsexual, going from male (blue) to female (pink) or from female (pink) to male (blue), or just somewhere in between, both flag designs capture the subtlties and the strengths of our spirits (and the white accents in between the lines are the--supposedly--the little triumphs that happen upon us during our journies to become whole (the flag as a whole)).  The lavender-colored sex symbol--not to be confused with The Artist Currently Not Known as Purple's symbol--can also designate FtM/MtF/or Intersexed/Both/ Shifting.  As you can see, both flag designs/symbols can be used to encompass all types of gender variation.  Hell, who knows, maybe it just might catch on (and Cpt. John will be elated--even moreso when he get credit for the design).

 

The History of the Bi Pride Flag 

by Michael Page. 

The first Bi Pride Flag was unveiled on Dec 5, 1998. The intent and purpose of the
flag is to maximize bisexual pride and visibility. This flag is for free public usage.

As a result of volunteer work I was doing for BiNet USA, it occurred to me that if bi
people were going to be visible at home, pride events and political rallies, we
needed a Bi Pride Flag! At that time, there were, in my opinion, no suitable bisexual
icons that were colorful or prominent enough to gain instant and long lasting
recognition as a flag. At the time, there were bi angles - an inverted double triangle,
the bi symbol - a 3 looped symbol and various shaped symbols created to represent
local groups of bi people.

There is no question that bi people have helped foster the gay and lesbian movement
we have witnessed since the Stonewall riots of 1969. One problem for bisexuals
remains their invisibility. This was also a problem for gays and lesbians prior to 1969
as very few were willing to "come out". 

In 1978, Gilbert Baker of San Francisco, who I personally met in Italy at World Pride
2000, created the Rainbow Flag. Each color held it's own meaning and was intended to
represent diversity of the gay and lesbian community. The effective mass visibility of
this icon is indisputable. 

Based on my own personal experience, the vast majority of bi people I have spoken
with, feel no connection to the rainbow flag, the pink triangle, the black triangle, the
Lambda symbol or the double-edged hatchet. These symbols are viewed as gay and
lesbian icons, which was their initial intent. Search the history of the rainbow flag on
the Internet and you will see what I mean.

It is my belief that bi people need their own flags and symbols to rally around. I
believe we (GLBT - Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered) are at times extremely
united, but in our communities usually separate. 

In designing the Bi Pride Flag, I selected the colors and overlap pattern of the bi
angles symbol. I selected, which to me, is the most attractive combination of pink,
purple and blue. In flag-maker parlance this is magenta - PMS 226 (pink), lavender -
PMS 258 (purple) and royal - PMS 286 (blue). I decided to make the top of the flag pink
and would give it 40% of the vertical dimension. Purple, which is the resultant color
when you overlap pink and blue, would be the middle stripe and would be 20% of the
dimension. The lower 40% would be blue. 

SYMBOLISM:

The pink color represents same sex attraction (gay and lesbian), the blue
represents attraction to the opposite sex (straight) and the resultant overlap color
purple represents sexual attraction to both (bi). The key to understanding the
symbolism in the Bi Pride Flag is to know that the purple pixels of color blend
unnoticeably into both the pink and blue, just as in the "real world" where bi
people blend unnoticeably into both the gay/lesbian and straight communities. 

The Bi Pride Flag is the only bisexual symbol not patented, trademarked or service
marked. Please use the exact PMS colors listed above. If we are going to be effective
with this flag, we need to be consistent with our colors. This flag continues to be
distributed on a global scale through BiCreations. In it's short history, the Bi Pride Flag
has been visible in many important GLBT events world-wide. A few of these events
may be seen under Events Photos . 



Bi Pride Flags and gift items are available at
BiCreations.com

Rainbow Pride
Gender Pride
Leather & Bear Pride
Pink Triangles

 

Rainbow Pride and Related Symbols

The rainbow flag has become the easily-recognized colors of pride for the gay community. The multicultural symbolism of the rainbow is nothing new -- Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition also embraces the rainbow as a symbol of that political movement. The rainbow also plays a part in many myths and stories related to gender and sexuality issues in Greek, Native American, African, and other cultures.

Use of the rainbow flag by the gay community began in 1978 when it first appeared in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. Borrowing symbolism from the hippie movement and black civil rights groups, San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag in response to a need for a symbol that could be used year after year. Baker and thirty volunteers hand-stitched and hand-dyed two huge prototype flags for the parade. The flags had eight stripes, each color representing a component of the community: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit.

The next year Baker approached San Francisco Paramount Flag Company to mass-produce rainbow flags for the 1979 parade. Due to production constraints -- such as the fact that hot pink was not a commercially-available color -- pink and turquoise were removed from the design, and royal blue replaced indigo. This six-color version spread from San Francisco to other cities, and soon became the widely-known symbol of gay pride and diversity it is today. It is even officially recognized by the International Congress of Flag Makers. In 1994, a huge 30-foot-wide by one-mile-long rainbow flag was carried by 10,000 people in New York's Stonewall 25 Parade.

The rainbow flag has inspired a wide variety of related symbols, such as freedom rings and other accessories. There are plenty of variations of the flag, including versions with a blue field of stars reminiscent of the American Stars and Stripes and versions with superimposed lambdas, pink triangles, or other symbols.

- - -

The Victory Over AIDS Flag modifies the rainbow flag by adding a black stripe at the bottom. Suggested by a San Francisco group, the black stripe commemorates those we have lost to AIDS. Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a much-decorated Vietnam Veteran dying of AIDS, proposed that when a cure is eventually found the black stripes should be removed from all the flags and ceremoniously burned in Washington, D.C.

 

Rainbow Flag

Rainbow Flag
(USA version)

Rainbow Flag
(Triangle Inset)

Rainbow Flag
(Victory Over AIDS)

Rainbow Flag
(Flying)


Gender Pride and Related Symbols

Gender Symbols are common astrological signs handed down from ancient Roman times. The pointed Mars symbol represents the male and the Venus symbol with the cross represents the female. Double interlocking male symbols have been used by gay men since the 1970s. Double interlocking female symbols have often been used to denote lesbianism, but some feminists have instead used the double female symbols to represent the sisterhood of women. These same feminists would use three interlocking female symbols to denote lesbianism. Also, some lesbian feminists of the 1970's used three interlocking female symbols to represent their rejection of male standards of monogamy.

Also in the 1970s, gay liberation movements used the male and female symbols superimposed to represent the common goals of lesbians and gay men. These days, the superimposed symbols might also denote a heterosexual aware of the differences and diversity between men and women. A transgendered person might superimpose the male and female symbols in such a way that the arrow and cross join on the same single ring.

- - -

The astrological sign of Mercury is traditionally the symbol of transgendered peoples. In Greek mythology, Hermes (the Greek version of the Roman god Mercury) and Aphrodite (the goddess of love) had a child named Hermaphroditus. That child possessed both male and female sexual organs, hence the term hermaphrodite. Also, rituals associated with the worship of Aphrodite are believed to have been highly sexual, involving castration, transvestism, and homosexual relations.

In the symbol itself, the crescent moon at the top is supposed to represent the masculine, and the cross at the bottom represents the feminine. The ring represents the individual, with the male and the female balanced at either side.

- - -

Inspired by the gender symbols, the IFGE Logo is another symbol for transgendered peoples. The International Foundation for Gender Education is an educational and charitable organization addressing crossdressing and transgender issues. One of the organizations logos, this symbol combines the lavender color and the pink triangle shape with a ring denoting various genders all fused into one. This is a copyrighted symbol, but you can use it for non-commercial purposes to denote transgendered or gender-supportive individuals. For more information, visit the IFGE Home Page.

 

Gender Symbols

Mercury Symbol

IFGE Logo


Leather Pride and Related Symbols

The Leather Pride Flag is a symbol for the leather community, which encompasses those who are into leather, Levi's, sado-masochism, bondage and domination, uniform, cowboys, rubber, and other fetishes. The flag was created by artist Tony DeBlase and first displayed on May 28, 1989, at the Mr. Leather contest in Chicago. Although the flag is often common in the gay community, it is not a "gay-only" symbol.

Reportedly, gay leather aficionados might also modify a rainbow flag to have a black stripe instead of a violet one. (However, this version might be confused with the "Victory Over AIDS" version of the rainbow flag, as they are similar.)

- - -

The Bear Pride Flag is a symbol used by some "bears," gay men marked by an abundance of hair on their face, chest, and body. Bears also tend to be older, and perhaps larger or chubby. There does not seem to be one single symbol that represents bears in general. Rather, there are many symbols that have been adopted by local clubs, bars, and other bear groups.

The Bear Pride Flag shown below is from Spags, a Seattle bear bar. The colors of the flag represent the earth and the various bears that live between the sky and the ground. The golden yellow paw shaped sun represents the spirit and brotherhood of bears all over the world. The blue stripe represents the sky; white for polar bears; black for black bears; brown for brown bears; and green for Earth.

Another popular bear flag is the International Bear Brotherhood Flag, "designed with inclusivity in mind and represent[ing] the fur colors and nationalities of bears throughout the world." Thanks to merchandise availability and word-of-mouth, this flag has became the dominant bear flag within the community. For more information, please visit the Bear Manufacturing web site. Note that this symbol is copyright 1995, Craig Byrnes/Bear Manufacturing VA763-760. It is provided on this site with permission and is intended for personal, non-commercial use only.

Additional bear clipart may be found at Resources for Bears.

- - -

For information on another related BDSM symbol, visit the Emblem Project home page.

 

Leather Flag

Rainbow Flag
(Leather Pride)

Bear Pride Flag

International Bear Brotherhood Flag
�1995 Craig Byrnes/Bear Manufacturing VA763-760


Pink Triangle and Related Symbols

The pink triangle is easily one of the more popular and widely-recognized symbols for the gay community. The pink triangle is rooted in World War II times, and reminds us of the tragedies of that era. Although homosexuals were only one of the many groups targeted for extermination by the Nazi regime, it is unfortunately the group that history often excludes. The pink triangle challenges that notion, and defies anyone to deny history.

The history of the pink triangle begins before WWII, during Adolf Hitler's rise to power. Paragraph 175, a clause in German law prohibiting homosexual relations, was revised by Hitler in 1935 to include kissing, embracing, and gay fantasies as well as sexual acts. Convicted offenders -- an estimated 25,000 just from 1937 to 1939 -- were sent to prison and then later to concentration camps. Their sentence was to be sterilized, and this was most often accomplished by castration. In 1942 Hitler's punishment for homosexuality was extended to death.

Each prisoner in the concentration camps wore a colored inverted triangle to designate their reason for incarceration, and hence the designation also served to form a sort of social hierarchy among the prisoners. A green triangle marked its wearer as a regular criminal; a red triangle denoted a political prisoner. Two yellow triangles overlapping to form a Star of David designated a Jewish prisoner. The pink triangle was for homosexuals. A yellow Star of David under a superimposed pink triangle marked the lowest of all prisoners -- a gay Jew.

Stories of the camps depict homosexual prisoners being given the worst tasks and labors. Pink triangle prisoners were also a proportionally large focus of attacks from the guards and even other inmates. Although the total number of the homosexual prisoners is not known, official Nazi estimates were an underwhelming 10,000.

Although homosexual prisoners reportedly were not shipped en masse to the death camps at Auschwitz, a great number of gay men were among the non-Jews who were killed there. Estimates of the number of gay men killed during the Nazi regime range from 50,000 to twice that figure. When the war was finally over, countless many homosexuals remained prisoners in the camps, because Paragraph 175 remained law in West Germany until its repeal in 1969.

In the 1970s, gay liberation groups resurrected the pink triangle as a popular symbol for the gay rights movement. Not only is the symbol easily recognized, but it draws attention to oppression and persecution -- then and now. In the 1980s, ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) began using the pink triangle for their cause. They inverted the symbol, making it point up, to signify an active fight back rather than a passive resignation to fate. Today, for many the pink triangle represents pride, solidarity, and a promise to never allow another Holocaust to happen again.

- - -

Like the pink triangle, the black triangle is also rooted in Nazi Germany. Although lesbians were not included in the Paragraph 175 prohibition of homosexuality, there is evidence to indicate that the black triangle was used to designate prisoners with anti-social behavior. Considering that the Nazi idea of womanhood focused on children, kitchen, and church, black triangle prisoners may have included lesbians, prostitutes, women who refused to bear children, and women with other "anti-social" traits. As the pink triangle is historically a male symbol, the black triangle has similarly been reclaimed by lesbians and feminists as a symbol of pride and solidarity.

- - -

Reportedly, the burgundy triangle may have been used to designate transgendered prisoners. Unfortunately, I have not yet found a resource to substantiate this suggestion.

 

Pink Triangle

Pink Triangle
(Bisexual)

Pink Triangle
(Jewish)

Black Triangle


 


 

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Bear Manufacturing, home of the International Bear Brotherhood Flag  Proud to be the only official manufacturer of the Bear Pride Flag.  There are no other Alternatives.  Be Proud of your Bear heritage.