Pennsylvania Didn't Have To Unveil A New Pride Flag, But Here We Are

Pennsylvania Didn't Have To Unveil A New Pride Flag, But Here We Are

The change isn't offensive, but it is unnecessary.
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In 1978, San Francisco artist, Gilbert Baker, was the creator of a flag containing eight stripes, one for each color of the rainbow, signifying something different with each: pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for the human spirit. The flag eventually lost two colors; pink because of a color shortage, and indigo to keep an even number. This six striped flag is what is known today as the gay pride flag.

However, half way through Pride Month 2017, and Pennsylvania has taken the opportunity to unveil a new and “improved” pride flag. The pride flag, which had been unveiled on June eighth of this year, now includes not six but eight different colored stripes. The colors are generally the same as the original flag pattern, however at the top are a black and a brown stripe in order to represent the people of color in the gay community of Pennsylvania, otherwise known as the Gayborhood.

Pennsylvania's LGBT affairs director, Amber Hikes, is a strong advocate for the additional stripes, having played a strong part in the movement from the beginning. The stripes are a part of the movement, More Pride, More Color, which highlights the issue of racism in the gay community and was developed by Tierney, a local ad agency with ties to Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs.

In an interview with CNN, Hikes states that the “vast majority” of the push back have been white men of the community. She goes on to say “White people do not know what racism looks like, because that’s the definition of racism.”

And that is precisely where the problem lies.

The pride flag was created with the intention to celebrate the gay community in general, those who were queer, with the expectation to conform to those standards that man must marry woman, and transitioning was just obscure and wrong. The gay pride flag was made to celebrate those who love who they wish and were not free to be themselves. Nowhere was the gay pride flag ever a symbolism of race, not for white or black or hispanic or what have you.

The community is a community about love, not race.

Let it be said that the flag itself is not the problem with the movement. In the year 1969 a movement known as the Stonewall Riots. In the midst of these riots were two transgender women of color: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

Marsha P. Johnson would often be asked what her middle name was, and always answered “pay it no mind”, in reference to the attitude she held about people who asked whether she was a male or female. She grew up New Jersey but moved to New York in the 1960s. On June 28th, 1969 the Greenwich police raided the gay bar which lends the name to the riots, the Stonewall Inn.

Sylvia Rivera had been a friend of Ms. Johnson, and a witness to the stonewall riot as it happened. “This was started by the street queens of that era,” Rivera once said, “which I was part of, Marsha P. Johnson, and many others that are not here"

Johnson and Rivera, founded the transgender rights group STAR: Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. STAR had a shelter for homeless trans teens and drag queens and fought for the inclusion of trans people under the umbrella of gay rights. In 1992, Johnson’s body was found in a river, and no further information is known about her death.

The flag in itself is not a problem, but the use in which it was intended for is. The community needs not to be separated by race, but joined by one flag. Hikes said recently, “When other variations of the pride flag have been introduced, such as striped flags representing bisexual or transgender pride, there was significantly less criticism.”

The reason the flags in question are different from this flag is because the flags in question are still representing sexuality. The flags in question are representing smaller communities under the same rule of thumb, and there is one for everyone to belong to. The flag that is being created now is not for the community, but for the people of color within the community, and them alone, when the original flag was nondiscriminatory in the first place.

If the flag must have two stripes stitched onto it in a show of respect, let it be for heroes of the movement specifically, not for a generalization of an issue that runs unrelated to the movement in itself. Let it be to remember heroes who witnessed the riots and the blood that was on the streets, not for a few strewn slurs. Let it be to remember Marsha P. Johnson, and those who started the movement before it was safe to do so. Let the flag continue to be a symbol of an entire community, and not build unnecessary lines through a community.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlyn Partain

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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In A Society Where Sex Sells And Women Are Trying To Be Heard

You are a valuable human being, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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I think it's fair to say we all have our guilty pleasures in life.

Those romantic comedies, steamy novels, or dramatic tv shows.

We love seeing the super attractive guy, with the super attractive girl.

But I think what society has picked up on, and what continues to happen, is women are being overly sexualized.

Whether it be a commercial, a show, a movie, a picture, or advertisement, sex will sell just about anything.

And I know this happens to men as well, and sure we don't mind looking at it, and might not even notice any real problems, but it is a problem.

We live in a society where men and women want to be heard, they want their voices out on the platforms for the world to hear, they want to change, and action.

We want to end major problems like human trafficking, sexual predators, and rape culture.

But let's put up a billboard of a half-dressed woman for children to see.

Let's make this simple.

No a woman or man for that matter, wearing very little clothing does not mean they are open or willing to engage with anyone sexually. This does not excuse rape, catcalling, or other sexual comments.

But listen, I am a woman, and if there is a man on the beach with a six-pack, It might catch my eye.

Just as a woman with a very revealing top may get a couple of glances, but this still doesn't have to be made sexual or overly dramatic. We can notice, and control our thoughts.

But here's the thing, if we continue to push sex, it really doesn't help our case.

As a woman I know if I walk into a job interview I'm going to look my best because my goal is to show I am a sophisticated individual worth being hired, it sends a message, just as walking into an interview with sweatpants would be.

I know I can speak for all men and women and say we all desire respect, as we should.

We don't want unwanted attention.

But there are a lot of other things we don't want either,

as I mentioned before, predators, sex traffickers, or rapists.

I believe clothing or lack thereof do not lead to such things, but rather things like pornography, graphic movies, shows, or magazines can "encourage."

NOT intentionally.

But think about it, really.

They create a fantasy, which means they aren't real. But when we continue to promote these things it becomes real for some people.

We as women want to be heard, we want respect, we want equality, but I'm telling you we are not going to get that in a society that banks off of sex. Or sexually exploiting ourselves.

Because

1. WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO SELL OURSELVES LIKE THAT TO ANYONE

2. I'm pretty sure people will still buy the product without the half dressed individuals if marketed well

I think if we want to change then we need to fix the issues staring right at us.


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