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Published: 12 February 2021

February is LGBT+ History Month in the UK, a month in which we recognise and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and additional queer histories, including the history of LGBT+ rights and related civil rights movements. The theme for LGBT+ History Month this year is Body, Mind and Spirit.

LGBT+ History Month takes place in February to coincide with the ending of Section 28, a piece of legislation that prevented the so-called 'promotion' of homosexuality in schools; as well as stigmatising lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Many people will be familiar with the rainbow flag, often referred to as the Pride flag, which is seen at Pride events all around the world as a symbol of the LGBT+ community, but many do not know about the flag’s history and how it has changed over time.

The LGBT+ or Pride Flag, was designed by Gilbert Baker in 1977, and was first displayed at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June 1978. Baker explained that each of the different colours of the Pride flag represent something different; pink is for sex, red is for life, orange is for healing, yellow is for sun, green is for nature, turquoise is for magic, blue is for serenity and purple is for the spirit.

In 2017, as part of a campaign for “More Colour More Pride”, two additional stripes of black and brown were added to the Pride flag to ensure inclusivity of people of colour. This flag was first adopted in Philadelphia, United States of America, where there had been previous accusations of racial discrimination in gay bars in the city.

In 2018, a further campaign was started to fully revise and update the Pride flag recognising the need for it to be more inclusive. Daniel Quasar, a designer who identifies as queer and non-binary, designed a new version of the flag, adding a five-striped arrow to reflect all aspects of the LGBT+ community. These five new stripes incorporate the black and brown stripes, to include LGBT+ people of colour, as well as the white, pink and light blue stripes to reflect the transgender Pride flag, which was designed by Monica Helms in 1999. Daniel Quasar has also shared that the black and brown stripes also reflect those living with AIDs, and those who have died from the virus.

These five new stripes have been added to the rainbow flag in the shape of an arrow to emphasise the progress that has been achieved as well as the progress that still needs to be made. This updated flag is now known as the Progress Flag.

Today, in addition to the rainbow Pride flag, there are also more than 20 unique flags to represent the different identities within the LGBT+ community.

You can see all of these flags here.

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