Fly the LGBT+ rainbow flag with pride, until there’s no need
A little pride never goes amiss when there’s still a lot of shame
The rainbow flag acts as the perfect symbol for both the vibrancy and the diversity of the LGBT+ movement, yet some still wish to attack it. Why?
The first criticism thrown its way is that the vibrancy of its colours represents a patronising and presumptuous LGBT+ movement which assumes everyone identifying as LGBT+ wishes to join the fight against those nasty straights, in the most terrifying and tyrannical opt-out system humankind has ever seen.
What the vibrancy of these colours actually speaks of is the confident display of pride needed in the face of a kind of learned shame which is, consciously or subconsciously, taught and absorbed by all. And yes, the UK is one of the best countries in the world for LGBT+ rights, but prejudice is still a fact of life.
The second criticism of the LGBT+ rainbow flag is that it fuels, in the poetic words of Oliver Yeates, pre-existing stereotypes of “gay people as living in a separated song-‘n’-dance world filled with happy prancing unicorns filled with rainbows”. Again, what these colours actually speak of is the diversity of the LGBT+ movement, which is, by its very nature, a very broad church. So chill.
Of course, it doesn’t wholly define who you are. But the reality is LGBT+ issues matter most to LGBT+ people. It’s not enough for LGBT+ people to quietly get on with their lives and wait patiently for society to accept their normality. Neither “happy prancing” nor “being a unicorn” should be terms of entry, but what would be even more ludicrous would be to distance yourself, whatever your sexuality, from a movement that is still so dearly needed to tackle the real challenges faced by LGBT+ people here and all over the world.
It’s the responsibility of everyone to fight for equality, regardless of sexuality or gender. A society without the need for such labels, flags or an LGBT+ movement at all would be incredible. But the reality is we’re still very far away from that kind of society. And until we reach it, let’s keep being proud in the face of shame, in the actions we take and the statements we make.
LGBT+ action takes many forms. The gradual acceptance of equal marriage by many countries exemplifies the legal form. But aesthetics are important too: the message we need to transmit is one of tolerance, hope and, yes, pride.
So let’s fly rainbow flags with pride, nudging humanity in the right direction