What Each LGBTQIA+ Flag Represents
For somebody outside of the LGBTQIA+ community, the number of flags and identities to know can feel a bit baffling. This may even be true if you have recently discovered your place in the LGBTQIA+ community. There’s every chance you may be feeling your sexuality or identity is not quite what you thought it was and could be in search of an answer. If one or more of these apply to you, or if you’re simply wanting to understand more about this wonderfully eclectic world, we hope this article will answer some of your questions.
We don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about every sexuality in the LGBTQIA+ gradient. But we do hope to educate those who are looking for some basic information as a foundation to build from. Listed below are the 26 currently known and recognised flags on the LGBTQIA+ gradient, and a brief description of what it stands for.
This is easily the best-known flag of them all when it comes to sexuality. The rainbow flag. It has been used as a symbol of the gay community since the 1970s. To be gay (or homosexual) typically stands for men that are attracted to other men. It has also been used as a general umbrella term for people within the LGBT community previously. Though LGBT has seemingly taken over that mantle more recently.
Bears are a subculture of the LGBT community, much like lipstick lesbians. A bear is a man that projects an outwards appearance of typical masculinity. They may be muscular, large, hairy, or otherwise appear to be the typical image of a “man”. The term “Bear” has been around for some time, however, the flag itself wasn’t trademarked until 1995.
Bisexuality is a difficult thing to identify accurately, as the term “bisexual” means different things to different people. The definition of bisexual is to be attracted to members of both sexes – men and women. However, there is an argument that this definition is considered transphobic as it doesn’t include sexual attraction to trans people. It is thought by some that the term specifically refers to attraction towards cis-gender men and women (people born the same sex that they identify as).
However, there have been countless cases in which a person that once considered themselves bisexual felt the need to change their identity of pansexual in order to be more inclusive. And so it calls into question how many “truly” bisexual people exist if the term is to be defined so literally.
A complete lack of sexual interest in anybody. Asexuality does not discriminate against any gender or sexual preference. It is simply a lack of interest in sex with people of all genders. Asexuality is often identified by the sense of alienation that person feels when others around them discuss sexual attraction and desire.
An asexual person will never feel any desire to be with another person in a sexual way, but rather value friendship, romance, and companionship, and can fall in love without the need for physical intimacy.
Transgender is when a person identifies as a different sex but does not use medical intervention to change their physical appearance. A Transgender person may change their mannerisms, voice, clothing and general appearance to appear to be the sex they identify as, but do not have surgery or hormonal treatment. Transgender people are often mistaken as transexual. However, there is a distinction between gender and sex that needs to be made here.
Gender is about personal identity – it is how a person feels about themselves. Whereas sex is the different physiological and biological characteristics of males and females. All humans are born with an assigned sex of male or female at birth, however, they don’t have to identify as that sex.
Continuing on from transgender – transsexuality is the identification as a different sex, combined with the use of hormone replacement therapy and sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) in order to align one’s physical appearance to that identity. Transsexual people are no more or less their identified gender than transgender people.
It is also worth noting that not all transgender people are able to undergo sexual reassignment surgery, and this should be respected. It is also nobody’s business whether or not a person has undergone SRS. Therefore you should never question a person about something so personal.
Genderqueer / Genderfluid
The direct definition of genderqueer is “a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.” This effectively means that a person who is genderqueer is not easily defined by a single-gender. But rather they may feel more strongly inclined towards one gender or neither from day-to-day.
People who are genderqueer are usually happy to go by any pronoun (she/he/they) so long as the correct pronoun is being used on that particular day. If you know someone that identifies as genderqueer, it is polite to ask which pronouns you should use when you see them. Genderqueer is not to be mistaken for gender non-binary which can be found further down our list.
Gender binary is simply identifying as the gender which matches the biological sex at birth. If a person is born with male genitalia, then identify as male in gender as well as sex. This is also known as cis-gendered.
Pansexual is when a person does not feel limited by sex or gender when it comes to being attracted to a person. Pansexual and bisexual are often mistakes for one another owing to the lack of boundaries when it comes to physical attraction and love.
However, there is speculation that bisexuality is considered transphobic and does not include transsexual and transgender people in the definition. Whereas pansexual is all-inclusive. The debate is still ongoing, though at the end of the day it is up to the individual to decide how they identify and who they are attracted to.
Polysexuality is defined by the feeling of sexual attraction to multiple genders but not all. A polysexual individual may feel attracted to non-binary, genderfluid, and female aligned people, but not necessarily male aligned or male cis-gendered people.
This lifestyle is considered somewhat controversial considering the monogamous expectations of the general population. However, Polyamorous relationships are when an individual is involved with more than one person both physically and romantically.
Though it is extremely important that people know a polyamorous relationship is consented to by all involved. Nobody in a polyamorous relationship is unaware of the other partners. It is a happy relationship with multiple partners.
As the term “ally” would suggest, a straight ally is a heterosexual or cisgender person that supports the rights of the LGBT community. This would mean supporting equal civil rights, the LGBTQIA+ social movement, and gender equality. As well as working to challenge biphobia, homophobia, and transphobia.
It’s worth noting that not all people that fit the description of a straight ally may identify as one. A true “ally” understands the social disadvantages of the LGBT community due to mass discrimination. Therefore they actively work to improve the position of LGBT members by using their own position and privilege to alter incorrect perceptions and break down discriminatory barriers.
Androphilia has a couple of definitions, neither of which is confirmed as being the absolute meaning of the word. One version of the definition suggests Androphiles are people of any gender that are exclusively attracted to men. However, another definition describes it as being people of any gender that are attracted to masculinity as a whole, which would include both men and masculine people of any gender.
A lipstick lesbian is simply a lesbian that openly enjoys and favours a feminine lifestyle which includes details such as glamorous hair and makeup, dresses, and heels. Typically, to identify as a lipstick lesbian, a girl will exclusively live her life in this way.
Much like androphilia, a gynephile is a person of any gender that is exclusively attracted to women. Though this also carries the secondary definition of a person of any gender that is exclusively attracted to femininity in general. Therefore also being attracted to a feminine person of any gender.
An Auotsexual person will be far more attracted to themselves than others. This would mean a preference to masturbate rather than engage in sexual activity with another person. It also includes fantasising about oneself, preferring self-stimulation and having sexual dreams about oneself to the excluding of other relationships.
Skoliosexuality is defined by a specific attraction to people who are either non-binary or transgender. Though it is still a relatively new term, and so the meaning hasn’t yet been clearly defined. There are other descriptions of skoliosexuality that suggest a skoliosexual person may be attracted to cisgender people as well. There is an argument that it either only means a person is attracted to non-cis-gendered people, or that skoliosexuality applies only to the attraction towards non-binary people.
Skoliosexuality is considered one of the more controversial terms owing to the fact that the overall definition hinges on whether or not a person is cis-gendered in order to be attracted to them. Therefore bordering on discrimination. However, there is an ongoing debate that heterosexuality and homosexuality would fit within the same category. Wherein it is not so much a cis-phobic word but simply a matter of personal preference. Something to which everyone is entitled.
An androgynous person is someone who possesses both feminine and masculine traits. Physically androgynous people are preferred for modelling owing to their flexibility in fashion. An androgynous person is capable of “pulling off” both feminine looks and masculine looks. As well as being able to perfectly balance unisex fashion as they do not physically suggest any particular sex.
Androgyny, however, can also refer to personality traits. A person is capable of having an androgynous personality when they display both forceful and gentle traits or are both aggressive and assertive.
Gender non-binary is often used interchangeably with genderqueer. However, as time moved forward the use of “genderqueer” is slowly changing to “genderfluid”. as the word “queer” has developed negative connotations over the years, thanks to its use as a slur. The main difference between gender non-binary, and genderfluid is that a non-binary person will feel a pull towards either female or male, though this will change on a day-to-day basis. However, a non-binary person will not sit between the two genders, or be genderless. They will feel whichever gender they identify as strongly on the given day.
A hermaphrodite is someone that is born with both male and female sex organs. It is not a matter of chosen sex, but a matter of biology. A hermaphrodite can choose to live as one or both genders.
An intersexual person is someone born with a combination of biological characteristics that pertain to both sexes. Where a hermaphrodite possessed both sex organs, an intersexual individual will have a combination of sex characteristics, including; chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals.
Neutrois / Agender
Neutroisity means to identify as neither gender. Gender neutrality is defined by a complete indifference towards gender as a whole. A neutrois (also known as Agendered) individual will consider themselves to have a complete lack of gender – not relating to either.
An aromatic person will experience little to no romantic attraction towards another person. It is, however, possible for them to experience sexual attraction, though not always. An aromatic person that experiences sexual attraction would be considered “aromantic sexual”. If they do not experience sexual attraction either, then they would be considered “romantic asexual”.
An aromantic sexual person will not have romantic connections with the act of physical intimacy. An aromantic asexual person will not feel inclined to pursue a romantic or sexual relationship with another person.
A greyromantic person is someone that experiences romantic attraction infrequently. It fits on the aromantic spectrum between aromantic and romantic. There is no telling when someone might begin to feel a romantic attraction towards another, but if a person is greyromantic then romantic attraction is a rare event.
A lithromantic person is someone that is only romantically attracted to a person when those feelings are not reciprocated. Once a person begins to return the romantic attraction they will lose interest.
Demiromantic is also on the aromantic spectrum alongside greyromanticism. A demiromantic person will also feel romantic attraction infrequently. However, the key difference is that the romantic attraction will only come as a direct result of forming a strong emotional bond with that person. It is not an unpredictable romantic attraction, but rather one that requires time and emotional connection, and comfort to achieve.
Then and Now
The LGBTQIA+ community has come leaps and bounds in teaching the world to be more considerate and tolerant of sexuality and gender in all forms, but it’s not done yet. The first gay pride march took place on June 27th 1970 – hence the reason for gay pride month being June every year. Since that fateful day, there has been a pride march every year alongside protests and demonstrations to teach everyone that loving another person, no matter the gender or sex, is perfectly normal and not something to be hidden away.
We give the LGBT community our full support in this endeavour and expect we will be seeing a more inclusive and accepting world in the years to come.