The Absolutely Horrific Attempts to Improve on the Rainbow Flag


Straight out of a bad collection of ClipArt, the entries to Kurt Andersen’s Studio 360 radio show challenge to rebrand “gay” are looking awful. Anderson asked listeners to revamp that staid (but awesomely effective and recognizable) rainbow flag created by Gilbert Baker in 1978 for something new! fresh! chic! Creating a new symbol for gaydom isn’t a new idea — and as the following examples show, it isn’t a particularly wise idea, either.

Herewith, a gallery of horrible.

Description of the above flag:

I don’t think you can actually start from nothing. We have to acknowledge our history. One of the reasons that our current flag works so well is that it’s intrinsic message of inclusion is evident to all. So I keep the rainbow, at the pink triangle in the spirit of “never forget, never again” and close with a set of gender symbols in flesh tones.


Shockingly, that’s not the worst one. Flip to Page 6.

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  • Roxboro

    I,m 65, leave me something to hang on to. Thousand’s have died under this flag, think about that !!!!!!

  • Allegory

    what kind of drug was the artist using when he thought up #6??? I understand all man are dogs, but haing two lezzie’s sucking on the tee tee’s????

  • HayYall

    This is what happens when you give retards, or UVA graduates, access to Photoshop.

  • galefan2004

    The gay community has fought and died under this flag since its inception. Changing the rainbow pride flag would be like changing the flag of the United States of America. LEAVE IT THE HELL ALONE!!!!!!

    Now in the spirit of this post (6 reasons why the flag should not be changed):

    1) All those GRIDS fatalities that happened before the United States would even recognize there was a problem happened under this flag.

    2) All those steps in gay rights (from being listed as a mentally diseased person to being able to hold hands in public) happened under this flag.

    3) All those drag queens and go go boys that many would like to see assimilate, raised money for the cause under this flag.

    4) All those that fought for gay marriage on a state by state basis did so under this flag.

    5) All those that fought against human rights atrocities in states like Ohio that put it on legal record that they don’t consider homosexuals people did so under this flag.

    6) All those that fought for the right to be heard and to have their ideas recognized and accepted did so under this flag.

    You don’t fuck with history!

  • Rob

    Agree in general with those who’ve posted above and add that none of your proposed gender symbols are trans-inclusive (and yes, there *is* a trans-inclusive gender symbol.)

  • Jamie

    Speak for yourselves. Some of us would be quite happy to never see another rainbow flag ever again. Those of you who find meaning in this symbol, who’ve adopted it as your own, that’s fine; but you don’t speak for the rest of us. Please stop assuming you do, and that everyone has the same symbolic investment in the rainbow flag that you do.

    These other flags may be godawful, but they’re variations on an idea that was lame and cheesy in the first place.

  • Captain Freedom

    GREAT that’s just what we need #6… More reasons for the Evangelical fascists and Christianists to link us to bestiality… nice going jackass who made this.

  • osocubano

    We do speak for ourselves. I like the flag the way it is, however lame and cheesy it may look to you.

  • galefan2004

    @Jamie: FUCK YOU! Seriously. You have no freaking clue what the heritage of the flag means, and if you did you would realize its a lot more than just the lame assed decoration at the local bar where you go to meet your latest hook up. Learn to respect your history.

  • Steve

    Personally, I think we need to jettison the rainbow flag altogether. It isn’t like the “gay community” is all that inclusive or concerned about rights for everyone.

    As much as I hate the HRC (and the name) the “=” sign is more symbolic of what we are striving for.

  • JoshB

    I’m assuming that #6 is a (terrible) reference to Romulus and Remus, the twins that founded Rome. Here is a statue of them. I have absolutely no idea what this has to do with gay rights.

  • Kid A

    @JoshB: Maybe that’s what the border is for? I dunno :P

  • mixed-fruits

    To me, it says “British Petroleum, but gayer.”

  • J. Clarence

    I like number three the most, for its simplicity. I would keep the pink triangle, and have the flag itself be rectangular, so that it doesn’t look like something from a Mini-Golf game.

    That being said, I don’t think the flag needs to be changed. There is history to the flag, and it continues to make history across the world. Sure, it’s cheesy, but it’s ours.

    If anything a new logo could be used for a new group or movement within the community, but not actually replacing the symbol of the gay rights movement.

  • Roxboro

    @galefan2004: Thank you !!!

  • galefan2004

    @Roxboro: Your welcome. I have older gay friends, and I don’t think a lot of these kids really understand how many rights we really have earned in the last 40 years. All of them have been encompassed under the Rainbow Flag. However, there is some point to be made that the Rainbow Flag celebrates diversity and the growing gay movement is for assimilation. Personally, I feel that if we lose ourselves to gain our rights we have gained nothing at all.

  • Gary

    oh dear, That’s horrible.

    This 50 year old homo is horrified, and, I was never a big fan of the rainbow flag, but most certainly know what it stands for.

    (For the record, I voted for the unicorn. . .It’s on page 32 of your agenda manual.)

  • Tim and Earl

    Living in the city of Easton (PA) which boasts the first flag of the united colonies (but where the stars were located are where today’s stripes are placed, and vice versa) (so glad this has always been a very Queer town! ;-)) I find the Rainbow Flag to be a very pure and simple design with vast and deeply complex symbolic meaning in its abstractness.

    Changing this icon will not get us equality…changing the laws will – so let’s do that harder work first instead of wasting energy debating how many stick figures can dance on the head of the pin of heterosexism stuck in our eyes!

  • dgz

    i don’t mind number three… although it does look like a bizarre merger between BP and NBC. but at least it’s graphically creative.

    i wouldn’t change the current flag, but #3 would be a good print graphic. it’s good to incorporate the pink triangle, that has a lot of symbolism and history, too.

  • dgz

    btw, for number 1… flesh tones? i’ve never seen an olive-green person. well, a non-gangrenous olive-green person.

  • WTF?

    By trying to incorporate outmoded gender symbols and “flesh” tones, this designer is extrapolating too much. Not only does it speak of nothing more than physical differences (instead of human sameness), it’s too complicated. It needs to be a pared down to a symbol that sums up everything simply. I agree with the poster regarding the = sign. It’s simple, bold, memorable and on-point. And – despite knowing the history of the rainbow flag, I too am unhappy with it. I’d love to see it go. Do you think the United States still has a snake that says “don’t tread on me”? Flags CAN change, it’s okay. It doesn’t have to be that tragic, folks.

  • Nick

    @JoshB: I’m glad someone else got the reference. Since this contest isn’t actually going to produce the next gay flag (clearly), number six was my fave. It’s randomly allusive and irreverent and I LOVE the come-hither stare momma wolf is shooting me. ;-) I also love how the description for number one made the flesh-tone gender symbols sound like a total afterthought, as if the whole thing was some sort of next-day soup.

  • jim

    I’m surprised Kurt Anderson came up with such a lameass idea, frankly. NPR overall is currently doing a LOT of LGBT-centered programming this week. Talk of the Nation yesterday, lots of news reports today (reffing support withdrawl from DNC), an hour segment on Diane Reem tomorrow. GO NPR!! But this flag thing…change for the sake of change is usually dismal, can we never leave well enough alone? Just this once? That triangular pennant thing looks like an “It’s SPRING!” mall decoration…blech.

  • Rick

    #2 is actually right justified. Justified in this sense means ‘aligned’. To be left justified, all the lines lines would align to the left.

  • Think Of T3H Old Gehz

    @roxboro was the first comment and he should be the last. To put it simply, it is more than a cheesy decoration. It is a siimply of the struggle gays have made over the year.

  • JoshB

    @Nick: I would love to pick the brain of the demented soul that created #6.

  • J

    @Gary: Lulz.

  • Puddy Katz

    I want one that incorporates the phrase “The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys”

    Thank you,

    Puddy Katz

  • Puddy Katz

    Or has a photo of George Michael super-imposed upon it.

  • Charles Merrill

    Despite the Obama reference, art deco #5 is pretty good. Not to replace the flag but for a flashing neon sign over a hotel in South Beach.

  • Marius

    How could we not include this inspiring entry:


    Says Gay Pride to me.

  • mb00

    #4 doesn’t even look like a Rhino, it kinda looks like a hair flowing in the wind with a heart beret that slipped down.

  • schlukitz

    Why does EVERYTHING have to be “New and Improved”?

    Even our flag has to be marketed like a fucking tube of toothpaste?

    Pleeeeze…just leave it alone.

  • TANK

    all aboard the uss fail.

  • bbg372

    As a Graphic Designer, I find the third entry to be appealing, more so than the current design.

  • Andrew

    Yeesh. Tacky tacky tacky. I just don’t get it: So many LGBT folks are highly talented artists, designers, etc., yet so many of our community websites, festivals, outreach pieces, etc. are soooo tacky. Those flag variation are horrible. Leave the original alone.

  • hyhybt

    Please don’t get serious about changing a flag. Being from Georgia, where we changed state flags twice within a couple of years, it’s more trouble than it’s worth even when the symbolism of the old one was wrong; in this case there’s nothing particularly wrong with the old one except that it’s old. Virtually all flags are tacky.

  • Whup-ass Master

    The main reason for the rainbow flag is to raise property values in up-and-coming neighborhoods. For that reason, I propose a flag that features a buttplug and liza minnelli. Tastefully, of course.

  • Attmay

    @Andrew: I was coming here to say the exact same thing.

  • Puddy Katz

    @Whup-ass Master: Butt plug, Liza Minelli and George Michael and we’ve got a deal!

  • KNow-It ALL

    This flag creeps me out! And trust me, I know what the colors mean. Its a waste of clipart! Rainbows creep me out enough, but making this flag is just plain FREAKISH!

    This is what happens when you give some lame-ass who no one cares about pot & Photoshop.

    This stuff is an embarrassment to nature & is ruining society!

  • KNow-It ALL

    I want a flag that says your all FREAKS & embarrassments to nature! ;)

  • Dennis

    MY EYES!!! MY EYES!!! This horseshit collection actually makes the Rainbow Flag seem classy, elegant and timeless…not an easy task.

    That said, #6 is pretty hilarious…maybe to wear as a gay pride day t-shirt. A little faggy and dykelet sucking at the teat of the ‘mamalove dog’?! WTF?!

  • Queeny San Francisco

    I read in an article that the man who made the 1st rainbow flag based it on God’s promise to Noah, using a rainbow as a sign that God would never drown humanity again.
    Religion is taking away LGBT rights, & I refuse to show the rainbow flag anywhere. Given our creative community, we could have come up with a better design.

  • FakeName

    galefan2004 aid: “2) All those steps in gay rights (from being listed as a mentally diseased person to being able to hold hands in public) happened under this flag.”

    Erm, no they didn’t. LGBT people have been demonstrating publicly since at least 1959 including but not limited to of course the Stonewall riots in 1969.

    Gay people have been speaking out publicly on television about our issues since at least 1954.

    The American Psychiatric Association voted to de-list homosexuality is a mental disorder in 1973.

    The rainbow flag debuted in 1978.

    If you’re going to disparage others’ opinions about the rainbow flag, at least have your facts right.
    Queeny San Francisco said: “I read in an article that the man who made the 1st rainbow flag based it on God’s promise to Noah, using a rainbow as a sign that God would never drown humanity again.”

    I have researched early LGBT symbols and have never seen anything that indicates that Gilbert Baker based his design on the story of the Flood. Various sources report his inspiration as Judy Garland’s rendition of “Over The Rainbow” while others state he was inspired by the “Flag of the Races”, consisting of red, black, brown, yellow and white stripes, that was popular at 60s counterculture demonstrations. Each of the (originally) eight stripes had a specific symbolic meaning and none of them is tied to Judeo-Christian beliefs or tenets.

    Speaking in 2008, Baker said of his inspiration: “In 1978, when I thought of creating a flag for the gay movement there was no other international symbol for us than the pink triangle, which the Nazis used to identify homosexuals in concentration camps. Even though the pink triangle was and still is a powerful symbol, it was very much forced upon us.

    “I almost instantly thought of using the rainbow. To me, it was the only thing that could really express our diversity, beauty and our joy. I was astounded nobody had thought of making a rainbow flag before because it seemed like such an obvious symbol for us.”

    I’m not suggesting that you run right out and festoon your home with rainbows but it does seem that your reason for disliking them is based on misinformation.

  • FakeName

    Oh, and I rather like the first one as an alternate design, minus the godawful boy-girl symbols.

Comments are closed.