What Do the Colors of the Progress Pride Flag Mean?

Learn about the meaning of the colors of the new Pride flag

Progress Pride Flag

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

Previously, you may have noticed that the LGBTQIA+ pride flag displayed every June for Pride month was a simple red to violet rainbow, but a new and slightly different flag has been flying in its place in the last few years. This new flag is called the Progress Pride Flag, and digital designer Daniel Quasar created it in 2018.

What do the colors of the new pride flag mean? Why does the new design have some of the colors placed in a different shape rather than in a line like before? How are people responding to this new design?

This article will answer these questions to help you understand what the new flag currently looks like and where this design is headed.

History of the Pride Flag

The original pride flag was created in the 1970s by gay activist Gilbert Baker, friend of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. Baker used eight colors and corresponding meanings: hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit.

Why Was Pink Removed From the Pride Flag?

The original hot pink color was removed from the pride flag because the fabric was difficult to find.

Another, simplified version of the flag with just six colors was developed later on. It kept the original rainbow colors: red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, and violet. This flag was a mainstay for several decades before the redesign.

However, different variations were created throughout that time. For example, specific pride flags such as the transgender, bisexual, and pansexual pride flags were also created.

What the Colors of the Pride Flag Mean

The pride flag colors each hold a different meaning, and each color represents an important value of the LGBTQIA+ community. Let's take a look at what each of the rainbow colors represents.


The red in the flag represents life. This makes sense if you think about how blood is red and how often blood is thought of as a vital life force of the body. Red also represents passion among many cultures. And, passion is ideally where life originates from.


Orange represents healing. As a color, orange is believed to be a fun and celebratory color. Fun and celebration are both healing activities.


If you guessed that yellow represented sunlight, you would be correct. The color yellow functions as the flag's radiant and bright center. The color yellow is said to stimulate new ideas and thoughts.


There's a lot of green in nature, which is what this color on the original pride flag is meant to convey. Nature is a healing place, and the color green is associated with prosperity and growth.


The indigo or blue in the original pride flag was for serenity. Little is more important than the ability to feel calm and serene. Blue is known as a relaxing color that soothes the soul. The color blue is often used for nighttime consumer products to represent bedtime and calmness.


The last color, violet (or purple) represents spirit. Purple is often thought of as a regal, royal color that, on its own, denotes pride. Like blue, purple is considered a calming color, but rather than being associated only with calm, the color purple connects us to the spiritual realm.

What Do the Colors in the New Pride Flag Mean?

The Progress Pride Flag was created with the inspiration of other pride flags—specifically, the Philadelphia Pride Flag from 2017 and the trans flag.

The Philadelphia Pride Flag had black and brown vertical stripes added. The trans flag, created in 1999, is pink, baby blue, and white. Both of these flags inspired the design of the new pride flag.

The Meaning of the New Progress Pride Flag

The new Progress Pride Flag includes new colors and a new design that are meant to represent people of color, as well as people who are transgender, intersex, or non-binary.

Black and Brown Represents People of Color

The Philadelphia Pride Flag was designed by the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs and was done in partnership with advertising agency Tierney. It was introduced at a City Hall ceremony in June of 2017. The flag showed the traditional six rainbow colors in horizontal stripes, with a black and a brown stripe atop them.

The colors black and brown were added to the Progress Pride Flag to represent people of color (POC). This was an important addition because people of color have often been left out of the queer narrative despite being the driving force behind the movement.

It wasn't until recent years that our society acknowledged that the pride movement originated thanks to Black trans activists such as Marsha P. Johnson, who notoriously fought back against police at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969. The Stonewall riot members were mostly people of color, and many were trans.

With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, culture at large began to shift in a much-needed way towards acknowledging the vital roles that people of color have had in our society. The pride movement background is one of many areas where POC, particularly Black people, did not receive the recognition they deserved historically. Adding colors to represent them on the flag is one way to change that.

Additionally, the black and brown stripes are meant to represent people living with HIV/AIDS, those who have died from it, and the stigma around the virus that is still present in our society now.

Pink, Baby Blue, and White Represent Trans People

Transwoman Monica Helms created the trans pride flag, which first flew in a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona back in 2000. Monica Helms is a transgender activist, author, and U.S. Navy veteran.

Traditionally, the colors pink and baby blue have been used to represent whether a baby is a boy or a girl. Here, the colors denote those genders. The color white represents people who are transitioning, intersex, or identify outside of the gender binary.

The flag is meant to provide affirmation for trans people no matter how it is flown, with either side on top.

Color Placement and a New Shape

The word "progress" in the new flag isn't only about adding the new colors to it. It's also because of the shape, which differs from the original design of horizontal stripes only. The Progress Pride Flag shows the white, pink, baby blue, black, and brown stripes in a triangle shape, with the old six-color rainbow stacked next to them.

This was done intentionally to convey the separation in meaning and shift focus to how important the issues represented on the left are.

The placement of the new colors in an arrow shape is meant to convey the progress still needed. Quasar spoke publicly about how work is still needed in terms of POC and trans rights. This arrow design is meant to highlight that.

Reception of the New Pride Flag

When the Progress Pride Flag was released, it immediately went viral. People hailed it both for being inclusive and for clearly showing that we have made progress and that we have more strides to make.

Though the Progress Pride Flag has not completely replaced the old six-color rainbow flag, it has taken over in many spaces. Where the rainbow flag gives a message of supporting LGBTQIA+ people, the Progress Pride Flag offers the message of supporting all of them.

The new flag pays homage to the people who founded the movement while simultaneously drawing attention to how POC and trans people remain underserved and discriminated against compared to White, cis queer people.

You may not see the Progress Pride Flag everywhere yet, but it continues to gain steam as the new flag to represent pride. And it continues to evolve, with a different flag released this year that is a spin-off of the Progress flag. It includes a yellow triangle with a purple circle inside it for intersex people and was designed by Valentino Vecchietti.

Why the Pride Flag Is Important

The pride flag serves as a symbol of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is a visual reminder of the struggles and oppression that people in the community have faced and continue to face, but, it's also a sign of hope.

People have displayed the flag outside of their homes or business to signal to others in the community that they have a safe space to enter.

The widespread use of the pride flag allows LGBTQIA+ individuals to connect with each other and feel included regardless of their location. No matter where you are or how you identify, the rainbow colors are meant to signify that you are included, welcome, and safe as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

1 Source
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  1. Bitterman A. The rainbow connection: A time-series study of rainbow flag display across nine Toronto neighborhoods. The life and afterlife of gay neighborhoods. The Life and Afterlife of Gay Neighborhoods. The Urban Book Series. 2021:117-137. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-66073-4_5

By Ariane Resnick, CNC
Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity.