Everything Wrong with the “Progress Pride Flag”
Why do lesbians hate the “progress pride flag”? The Lesbian Post counts ten reasons why.
1. Its chevron erases part of the rainbow. Lesbians and gay men were once publicly represented by a simple rainbow flag, designed in the 1970s by Gilbert Baker, a gay man. The original flag had eight stripes, each representing a different positive and life-affirming concept. Two colors were later dropped for legibility reasons, and due to a shortage of hot pink fabric.
Many lesbians and lesbian groups used the rainbow flag as a symbol of pride to combat the shame and ostracism that come from living in a homophobic society, and as shorthand for our pro-lesbian political positions (for same-sex marriage, equal employment, equal housing, and so on). The massive chevron of the “progress pride flag” blots out part of the rainbow—paralleling the mass erasure and re-closeting of lesbians and gay men that has taken place in recent years.
2. It implies that lesbian and gay rights are regressive. The chevron of the “progress pride flag” isn’t just covering up the rainbow—it’s shaped like a forward arrow that’s moving the rainbow along. When it’s combined with the word “progress” in the title, the chevron sends a crystal clear message: that lesbians and gay men are old news, and telling us to move along is the new progress.
Don’t believe us? Take Daniel Quasar’s word for it. Quasar, a human man who describes himself as “a queer non-binary celestial object having a human experience” (yes, really), designed the new flag. Quasar has stated that the chevron represents “forward movement” to “shift focus and emphasis to what is important in our current community climate … We need to always keep progress moving forward.”
The concept of moving the rainbow along becomes even more obvious when we consider the recent update to the “progress pride flag”: the addition of two more colors at the left, shoving the rainbow even further to the right and out of sight.
How many new colors will be added in the coming years? Will Quasar and his ilk leave even a sliver of the rainbow, if only to commemorate their total colonization of the lesbian and gay communities? Time will tell.
3. It celebrates sexist stereotypes. At the heart of the “progress” chevron are two stripes of baby blue and baby pink. These colors are often associated with stereotypes of boys and girls, especially when they’re placed right next to each other.
By celebrating sexist stereotypes, the “progress pride flag” is offensive to women in general—but it’s especially offensive to lesbians, who have a long history of breaking female stereotypes and being shamed for it. The glorification of sexist stereotypes actively excludes any lesbian who avoids makeup, shaves her head, doesn’t shave her legs, supports herself, supports her wife, has a blue-collar job, can lift heavy objects, shops in the men’s section, holds doors for other women, stands up to bullies, and/or knows how to use a screwdriver.
Arguably, it also excludes lesbians and gay men altogether—since none of us fit the stereotype that says that women are always attracted to men and vice versa.
The “progress pride flag” isn’t about changing society for the better at all. Instead, it’s a visual representation of what anti-lesbian activists are doing across the U.S.: reinforcing old stereotypes, rebranding them as progressive, and using them to make lesbians disappear.
4. It coerces lesbians and gay men to include heterosexuals in our communities and movements. Daniel Quasar has stated that he designed the “progress pride flag” for the sake of “inclusion.” The problem with that statement is that Baker’s original flag already represented all same-sex attracted people—lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals.
So who did the original pride flag leave out? What poor oppressed sexual minority is Quasar trying so virtuously to include?
Let’s be clear: some homosexuals and bisexuals have been indoctrinated into believing that they are “trans” (whatever that means). Some homosexuals and bisexuals have intersex conditions. Many homosexuals and bisexuals are black or brown. By virtue of their sexual orientation, those people are already included on the rainbow flag; they don’t need to be added to it. The only people left over, the only people who could possibly be added to a symbol that represents every single same-sex attracted person in the world … are heterosexuals.
For lesbians, the addition of the heterosexual chevron to the LGB flag is a painful reminder of the current heterosexual invasion of lesbian spaces, including community centers, bars, support groups, political organizations, and dating apps. And it’s not just our spaces that are being invaded—it’s our bodies. Anti-lesbian activists are working hard to coerce lesbians into sex with heterosexual men who call themselves “trans women.” Refusal to accept men into our communities and our beds can and sometimes does end in rape or murder.
That chevron is starting to look awfully penetrative, isn’t it?
5. It implies that “lesbian and gay” means “white,” exclusively. The addition of black and brown stripes to the “progress pride flag” implies that black and brown people were excluded from the original flag and the communities it represented, and that now, in the 2020s, for the first time ever in history, it’s finally time to start including them.
To this, Lesbians United says: bullshit.
Black and brown lesbians and gay men have always existed, and they’ve been active in the lesbian and gay rights movement since it started. A Filipina-American lesbian started the Daughters of Bilitis, the U.S.’ first lesbian organization. A black lesbian started the Stonewall Uprising and kicked off a lesbian and gay rights movement nationwide. Black and brown women have been active in the lesbian community for generations, and white lesbians have been socializing with them, working alongside them, loving them, and recognizing their achievements since before segregation ended.
How behind the times is Daniel Quasar? How dare he, a white man, erase non-white women from lesbian history?
Like many articles printed in The Lesbian Post, this one was co-written by an interracial couple, a black woman (P.) and a white woman (T.). We’ll break with the nebulous “we” voice for a moment so that P., a working-class black butch lesbian and Lesbians United’s Social Media Director, can say this:
The so-called “progress” flag suggests that only now in its current “LGBTQ+” form are those of us with black and brown skin being embraced by a movement that black- and brown-skinned people were instrumental in founding. I hate the sight of that flag, and I refuse to spend my hard earned money at establishments that display such overt homophobia.
6. It uses baby colors to imply that homosexuals are either infantile or pedophiles. We’ve already seen how the “progress pride flag” implies that lesbians and gay men are outdated, regressive, racist, and exclusionary. But the insults don’t stop there. Let’s look at one more: the insinuation that homosexuals have an unhealthy relationship to children.
The aforementioned baby pink and baby blue stripes in the “progress pride flag”’s chevron don’t just represent sexist stereotypes. They also represent girls and boys—which is to say children, and often babies. Why should a symbol of infancy be added to the lesbian and gay pride flag, unless it is to visually connect homosexuality with infancy?
There are two options here: either those who fly the “progress pride flag” mean to compare homosexuals to children, or they mean to suggest that homosexuals want access to children—and that it’s somehow “progressive” to say so.
Lesbians and gay men of generations past fought hard to debunk the false belief that homosexuality is linked to pedophilia. The “progress pride flag” revives that false belief, and walks back seventy years of actual progress.
7. It equates homosexuality with self-destructive behavior. In addition to their association with sexist stereotypes and children, the pink-and-blue stripes of the chevron have recently become associated with transgenderism, an ideology that values artificiality, medical experimentation, image obsession, and mutilation; and devalues health and self-acceptance.
By inserting the colors of an anti-health ideology into the rainbow, the “progress pride flag” creates a visual association between same-sex attraction and self-destruction. Yet another old homophobic stereotype rears its head: the false belief that homosexuality is inherently self-destructive, a sickness, addiction, or obsession. That’s about as far from gay pride as it gets.
8. It encourages homosexuals to submit to conversion therapy. The association of homosexuality with an anti-health ideology impacts the way lesbians and gay men are seen by those outside our community. Perhaps more importantly, it impacts the way that young lesbians and gay men see themselves and their place in the world. When teens and twenty-somethings are taught to associate their own state of being (homosexuality) with sickness (transgenderism), they start to believe that they are destined for medicalization—and this belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Every day, more tomboys and young lesbians are being swallowed by the U.S. medical establishment, and spat out as unhealthy and unhappy facsimiles of heterosexual men. Many of them willingly submit to this treatment, because they’ve been led to believe that it’s what they deserve, or even what they need.
The “progress pride flag” is especially insidious when you consider its title, and its designer’s stated mission to “keep progress moving forward.” Previous waves of anti-gay activists demanded that adult lesbians and gay men submit to medicalization because we were sinners, perverts, and pedophiles—a lie that most of us were able to see through, since we knew ourselves to be none of the above. But today, young people suspected of homosexuality are being told to submit to medicalization because it’s progressive. That’s a lot harder to argue with, especially for young people who have been taught to view the HRC and other anti-lesbian hate groups as the arbiters of what’s progressive.
9. It’s just plain ugly. Who wants to be represented by such a hideous hodgepodge of clashing colors? Certainly not us.
10. Its primary effect is to confuse the public about who lesbians and gay men really are. The “progress pride flag” sends a lot of messages all at once. Through visual storytelling, the flag tells us that homosexuals are regressive because we are racist and exclusionary; that we are progressive because we are self-destructive; that we are pedophiles and that we are children; that we are abnormal freaks and that we subscribe to old-fashioned sexist stereotypes; and, most of all, that we must be erased in favor of heterosexuals who like to play dress-up.
It’s a confusing flag. In its own way, it’s a perfect endeavor. It lines up perfectly with the anti-lesbian movement’s tactic of confusing the public about who lesbians and gay men really are so that they can get away with doing terrible things to women, to children and parents, and to homosexuals in our name. This tactic shows through in the language the anti-lesbian movement has coined, and in the flag they fly. The confusion has become so extreme that earlier this year, when the Florida state legislature passed a bill preventing public schools from grooming children for sexual and medical abuse, left-wing reporters immediately branded the bill as homophobic—and half the country believed them.
To any wannabe allies reading this: lesbians are not pedophiles. We are not sick or childish, racist or regressive. We do not subscribe to sexist stereotypes. We are not destined for medicalization or self-destruction. We do not need to be erased, replaced, or moved along. Lesbians United implores you to stop pretending that these things are true—and to take down that hideous, homophobic flag.