I’ve been thinking a lot, in the lead up to LGBTQ+ History Month about the importance of flags and colours to LGBTQ+ people. Flags can be a tool of division: used to symbolise who is in and who is out, used to start wars, rather than to inspire reconciliation. For the LGBTQ+ community, though, flags have, throughout our history, been used to bring people together, to signpost places of safety, and to re-imagine reconciliation. Our flags say something about stories of our past and hopes for our future. But, this year perhaps more than ever before, we have seen how important it is to think about the colours that we use to represent ourselves, and to repeatedly consider transformation in the name of progress.
I use the zentangle method for reflection, meditation, expression and reconciliation. I’m not a professional artist by any stretch, but these simple, yet deceptively complex, patterns help me to process, reflect and learn. I would like to share with you a piece of zentangle inspired art that I made based on the colours of various pride flags.
A Black Ribbon
The black ribbon represents grief.
We must remember the stories of the many members of the LGBTQ+ community that we have lost. In the Holocaust, to AIDS, to the death penalty, to transphobic violence, to religious and spiritual abuse, to suicide. We must work to end the harm against LGBTQ+ people that leads, both directly and indirectly, to death. Every day I hear horrific stories of suffering from people like me. Every day I am taken aback by how unsurprising these stories are. Every day I remember my own stories, and regret the fact that so little has changed for trans people coming out today. We must work together to create a better future, so that the stories we share can be stories of hope and reconciliation.
The Pride Flag
The first pride flag was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978. The colours that Baker used weren’t random. They were:
pink for sex
red for life
orange for healing
yellow for sunlight
green for nature
turquoise for art
indigo for harmony
and violet for spirit
We need to remember these colours from our past stories as we write new chapters. Today, they raise these questions for me:
Why do so many churches focus on sex and ignore the lives that are being damaged or lost?
What would healing and reconciliation look like for LGBTQ+ people in the UK today, in light of an ever more divided and dangerous society?
When will we be free to dance in the sunlight?
How can we help people to remember and to understand that nature is not, has never been, binary?
What would life be like if everyone prioritised creativity over tradition?
How can we celebrate diversity in harmony?
Where is Spirit moving in LGBTQ+ lives today?
I would like to encourage you, if you have some time, to pause and ponder these questions. If you are someone who likes to journal, you might like to write down your answers, you might prefer to doodle or colour, or perhaps to simply reflect quietly.
Recently, a new LGBTQ+ flag has been created. The progress flag includes
to represent the fact that trans, black and brown people have been, and still are, marginalised within the LGBTQ+ community and in wider society. We must continue to focus on trans, non-binary, and black and brown LGBTQ+ lives, and to insist on change. Our siblings are suffering and dying and we must do something about it.
I have left some blank ‘leaves’ on my pattern, to represent the unknown stories of our future. Our past and present are full of stories of suffering, of injustice, of resilience, of creativity and of hope. What stories will we be able to tell in 2030? Will you be one of the writers of a better future? What colours will be woven together by the spirit of transformation?