The pride flag has been a symbolic icon of the LGBTQ community since 1978, and for the first time in its history, it’s come under redesign. As part of the Philadelphia pride parade this year, two news colors—brown and black—were added to the redesigned LGBTQ flag to recognise the non-white LGBTQ community.
Launched at the Philadelphia Pride month kick off, the More Color More Pride campaign aims to recognize non-white members of the LGBTQ community and create a broader pride movement. The campaign was developed by a local ad agency called Tierney that worked with Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs, where Amber Hikes is the executive director.
There has been some debate as to whether the redesigned LGBTQ flag is entirely necessary, with some claiming the flag isn’t designed to represent race, but sexuality. Hikes would disagree. “It’s a push for people to start listening to people of color in our community, start hearing what they’re saying, and really to believe them and to step up and say, ‘What can I do to help eradicate these issues in our community?’”
Hikes still considers progress has to be made in the Philly community: in 2016 many social justice groups became angered when the owner of a popular gay bar got caught on video using the N-Word. Hikes hopes the flag will encourage conversations about equality for the non-white members of the LGBTQ community and inspire change amongst its more prejudice members. Hikes office has however received many angry responses—mostly from white gay men—who feel the black and brown stripes are unnecessary, she said.
Gilbert Baker, who died in March, was the original creator of the LGBTQ flag; his long-time friend Charley Baker said: “The stripes were not chosen for skin color—they were chosen to reflect the spectrum of color in nature”. He said the new flag should become its own independent symbol. “I encourage it, and I think people who know Gilbert would.” He says Baker was open to adaptations of his flag. But he said friends of the activist were startled to see a Wikipedia page dedicated to Baker’s flag altered to include the Philadelphia version.
Despite its controversy, the new flag has become somewhat of a viral sensation. The ever-noisy opposing minority, of course, want to get their views heard but for the most part, the redesigned LGBTQ flag seems to have been embraced and has been shared on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.