“Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”
Most of us can easily picture a certain frog singing these words as he strums his banjo. The rainbow means different things to different people. Many consider it a connection between heaven and Earth. Some believe leprechauns hide their gold at the end of them. Prophet Joeseph Smith swears that he was told that the Second Coming of the Messiah would not happen in any year a rainbow is seen. In Bulgarian lore, people were led to believe that passing under a rainbow would instantaneously cause a gender switch! More recently, the rainbow is being used as a sign of hope that we–the world, will collectively make it through the global pandemic.
In 1978, the rainbow became a symbol of even greater significance as a representation of gay pride when Gilbert Baker stitched the first pride flag in San Francisco. While widely accepted and recognized, some felt that the flag celebrated a specific population while ignoring others.
The Bisexual Movement
The greater queer civil rights movement began back in the 1960s with the Stonewall Riots and the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, which would evolve into the pride parades held all over the world every summer. As the rainbow flag gained recognition as the symbol representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) social movement, the bisexual community felt overshadowed.
In the 1990s, the push for Bi visibility began in earnest with three principal goals:
- Increase awareness and gain recognition as a vital part of the LGBT family and movement.
- Dispel the notion that bisexuality is “just a phase” on the path to exclusive homosexuality or an experimental whim by heterosexuals.
- Eliminate the frequent misidentification of bisexuals as either gay or straight based on their current partner.
Recognizing a desire to have a symbol of their own, bisexual activist Michael Page (co-founder of Bi Visibility Day) introduced the Bi flag on December 5, 1998. Page’s vision was to create an easily-recognizable, memorable flag that could fly alongside the gay pride flag. He found that people who identified as Bi felt no connection to the rainbow flag, and desired a Bi flag that would represent them and their unique place in LGBT culture.
The Colors of the Bi Flag
Page took his inspiration for the Bi flag from a less well-known Bi symbol called the “Biangles”. First used by the Boston Bi Women’s Community, the symbol is composed of a pink triangle combined with a blue triangle creating a lavender color where they overlap. (As the pink triangle was used by the Nazis during World War II to identify homosexuals, or those believed to be gay, the use of this symbol is becoming increasingly unpopular.)
The Bi Flag mimics this color scheme, as Page felt the colors were complimentary and attractive and would make for a flag that is striking and notable. According to Page, “The pink color represents sexual attraction to the same sex only (gay and lesbian), the blue represents sexual attraction to the opposite sex only (straight), and the resultant overlap color purple represents sexual attraction to both (Bi).”
If you want to get really technical about it:
- Magenta makes up the top 40% of the Bi flag, the royal blue stripe takes up the 40% at the bottom, and lavender accounts for the 20% in the middle
- The exact Pantone colors codes given by the designer are PMS 226, 258, and 286
- Their approximate HTML values are #D60270, #9B4F96, #0038A8
- Their approximate RGB values are (214,2,112), (155,79,150), and (0,56,168)
Page goes further to explain the symbolism of the Bi Flag. He notes that “the purple pixels of color blend unnoticeably into both the pink and blue, just as in the real world, where most Bi people blend unnoticeably into both the gay/lesbian and straight communities.”
Research, most notably led by Dr. Alfred Kinsey, tells us that sexuality lives on a spectrum. On one end lies exclusive heterosexuality, that is, romantic/sexual attraction to someone of the opposite sex (“0” on the scale). At the other end, we find exclusive homosexuality, or attraction to the same sex (“6” on the scale). In the middle, between 2 and 4, we find those that are equally or “more than incidentally” one way or the other, otherwise known as bisexual (or Bi). Kinsey’s research was published in 1948, but there are many examples of humans (and animals) claiming their place along the continuum throughout history.
Further, the American Psychological Association states, “Sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime–different people realize at different points in their lives that they are heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual.”
According to a Gallup Poll released on February 24, 2021, 54.6% of adults identifying as LGBT consider themselves to be bisexual. In addition, of those considered Generation Z (born between 1997-2020), 11.5% identify as Bi.
It is difficult to discern if this generational difference is due to actual growth in the LGBT-identifying community or merely a greater willingness to share this information by the younger generation.
Let Your Bi Flag Fly
The Bi flag is not patented or trademarked in any way, nor does anyone own the copyright (despite some recent ownership kerfuffles.) While the colors are specifically noted above, gentle variations in hue are sometimes used depending on the circumstances. Recently, as with the rainbow pride flag, the addition of black and brown stripes has been added to some flags to further extend the inclusivity of the BIPOC community.
The Bi flag is one of many that recognizes the many identities making up the LGBTQIA+ community. As awareness and inclusivity grow, you can expect to see these symbols of diversity and unity more and more. No matter where you fall on Dr. Kinsey’s spectrum, and whether you choose to announce it to the world or not, you should be proud!
If you’d like to learn more about bisexuality, check out these resources:
Even as the world grows more accepting of the LGBT+ community as a whole, Bi erasure and biphobia are rampant. The negative psychological effects can be devastating.
Even in 2021, there is confusion and misconceptions about what it means to be bisexual.
There are many similarities between Bi and Pan, but there are also some key differences.