I'm not black. I am from a French Canadian heritage, was raised as a Roman Catholic, and spent my first 39 years living in Maine. I knew I was gay since I was in the third grade and the ROYGBV rainbow flag is the pride flag I grew up with and recognize.
Most if not all of that would most likely exclude me from making any comments or sense about the people of color (POC) rainbow flag variation that has sparked tons of debate this pride season. The addition by a group in Philadelphia of the Black and Brown stripes to the currently used ROYGBV Pride flag has not been a sight welcomed by all.
Philadelphia is one of my favorite cities to visit and enjoy. I know there is racial tension there. During one of my last trips, I stumbled upon a protest in the street out front of Woody's bar. Police were present and bullhorns were screeching. There is a great deal of racial tension in gay communities across this nation and others. Philadelphia just happens to have a POC community that has been able to vocalize their position more so than others.
The Advocate with its article If You Hate the New Pride Flag, You're the Problem, may have fueled the debate a little with their semi- "click bait" of a title saying we have a New Pride Flag. In the article, the author clarifies that this is just a local variation of the flag and not a push to change it for all QUEER-kind.
People don't like change. But if you're "one of those kinds of people" that don't like the black and brown stripes being added, Advocate contributor Amanda Kerri clearly knows what demographic you belong to, so don't worry.
If it really irks you that people of color wanted to feel represented on a Pride flag, you need to rethink your battle plans, because this is a stupid hill to die on. People of color really have been marginalized and pushed aside in our community, and if you don’t think that’s true, I can probably guess what color skin you have — and no, spray tan is not a skin color. If giving POC their own Pride flag helps them feel welcome, then what the hell should it matter? There are flags for trans, bi, lesbian, bears, allies, leathers, bears; I mean, for God’s sake, there’s probably a flag for queer furries who are only into left-handed Jewish people. If people of color want to have their own Pride flag, let them. The fact that you’re so uptight that they want something as simple as a minor symbol of acceptance says more about you than any sort of “social justice warrior/political correctness run amok.”
There’s something very telling in the reaction to the new Pride flag as well as the impetus for it. I know that the rainbow flag is supposed to cover everyone in the community — black, white, indigenous, Asian, gay, bi, trans, etc. — but when some people feel they have to do something like this to draw attention to their unique issues, it shows we’ve all failed in some regard. We’ve overlooked something, we haven’t been listening, and we haven’t been supporting each other, and so we aren’t really a rainbow. In fact, instead of putting the stripes on one end of the flag, I would have stuck them right in the middle where everyone can see. Why? Because I see this as not just a way of calling attention, but a way to unsettle those who are a little too out of touch. – Advocate.com
To be honest, when I first saw the Bisexual Pride flag, I was a little confused. My first thoughts were why did they need their own flag and doesn't the rainbow flag represent us all already? My, how that Bisexual pride flag flew during Tel Aviv Pride this year with its theme "Bisexuality: Let It B" (TRAVEL THURSDAY: We Are Still Recovering From Our Trip To Israel And Tel Aviv Pride). It was beautiful, commanded respect, and represented a wonderful part of our QUEER community. My first response to the Bisexual flag years ago seems to be the same as the overwhelming response to the BBROYGBV rendition.
There were some "colorful" and not so friendly responses to the new POC BBROYGBV flag. Examples were:
- Where's the white stripe? Some compared that comment to the Black Lives Matter / All Lives Matter counterpoint.
- Does the yellow stripe represent the Asians? Oh yes, it was said. As well as trying to figure out what race or ethnicity was represented by the other colors.
- Should we get rid of the red stripe since that's for the more "Straight Acting White" gays which are part of the racist problem in our community? Have to place the blame somewhere, right?
It seemed that now, every color was under fire since two new ones were being added.
Even the placement of the Brown and Black stripes was in question. Why are they above all other colors? Why aren't they at the bottom? Even the Advocate contributor mentioned:
In fact, instead of putting the stripes on one end of the flag, I would have stuck them right in the middle where everyone can see. – Advocate.com
Here is #MoreColorMorePride video sharing why these additions to the rainbow flag occurred.
I've discussed (some will say argue) this issue with many of my friends. Some saying that it is about time for change. Others point out also that there were other colors before, why not new ones now?
My white, non-practicing Roman Catholic, New England ass was not going to win many debates on this. But when I shared this video recently on my Facebook page, I noticed that many of my POC friends on Facebook made positive comments, likes, and loves.
Some say that this woman's opinion does not matter since she is straight and has no reason to comment on this debate. Another friend stated she was wrong in thinking that this is a permanent Pride flag for the entire community. Didn't most think that way. I think she made some interesting points about racism and the current anti-racism movements.
It's always good to debate. You get to hear other sides of the topic at hand, how others feel, and also address a concern you may not have thought about before. The fact that we are talking about the racism that exists in the QUEER community now more than ever is a good thing. It's a great thing. The addition of two stripes to a locally flown piece of cloth has sparked awareness and chatter nation and world wide.
But the more the debate clarifies that this BBROYGBV is a regional flag addressing a city's issue, the more we come closer to having this care about racial inequality in the QUEER community be a flash in the pan. Pride done. Summer over. Flags down. Debate ended.
I initially had a different title for this article. It was "Phew! White Gays Rejoice! It's Just A Variation Of The Flag And Not Really For Everyone." I feel this may be how some in our community are responding to this POC Pride flag debate.
There's my thoughts. What are yours, Instincters?
The debate has started. Where will it end?
Will we continue to talk about racial tension in the QUEER community?
Or will we say, bravo Philly on your new Pride flag, we'll keep ours just the way it is.