Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Flags are Out

The most recent lgbt history presentation I did was in June to a gay men’s group I frequently attend. The subject was lgbt flags. It sounds like a nerdy subject and I didn’t think I’d keep the group’s interest going for a full 45 minutes. As it happened I needn’t have worried. The flag charts I handed out at the end created a lot of conversation in the pub afterwards. In fact, I’ve been asked to produce an 8-page guide to lgbt flags for LGBT History Month next February.

With the help of a teddy bear, a “De Fledermaus” CD and a tub of neopolitan ice cream, I gave a short history of the Rainbow Pride flag, and of flags in the bi, leather and bear communities, among others. But I actually started my presentation with the Union Jack.

Funny as it might seem, bearing in mind that the Union Jack has been used by lots of extreme right-wing (homophobic) organisations, the design for our national flag was chosen by the king who was so well-known for his liking for toyboys that he earned himself the nickname of “Queen” James I (left).

I often wondered when I researched the flags whether the symbolism in them was “accurate”. For Nottinghamshire Pride last week I made 50 badges with a different lgbt flag on each and pinned them onto my shoulder bag. As I walked around Pride I was asked about them many times. I bumped into two friends I hadn’t seen for a while. Neither of them attended my talk. Each of them pointed to one badge and said “What’s that flag?” One friend, who’s into uniform, pointed to the Uniform Pride flag (below left). The other friend, who’s a chubby-chaser and likes large men, pointed to the Apidophilia (fat-lovers) Pride flag (below right).

Now, I don’t believe in coincidence. There must have been something in the designs which stuck out from the 49 others and instantly appealed to them, revealing their own interest without knowing it. In my opinion, the design of both flags “worked”.

If you want to know more about lgbt flags I’ll be posting more information on some of them next week with a preview of my leaflet for LGBT History Month. Until then, check out the following website  

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