The Wheel and Axle

Pride is global.

by on Jun.23, 2017, under My Life, Queer, Snark

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Last week, news came out that Philadelphia was lobbying to add brown and black stripes to the iconic Rainbow Flag of the LGBT community. The reason is that they want to represent the inclusivity of (American) racial minorities that have a history of being discriminated against even within the LGBT community.

Needless to say, this sparked heated debates over the internet. I also had my own thoughts which I shared on social media, and with Metro Manila Pride March scheduled tomorrow, I thought it was appropriate to also share my thoughts here on my blog.

To sum it up: I believe it is completely unnecessary and, if I may say so, foolish. Adding black and brown to the flag won’t solve any problems of racial misrepresentation or underrepresentation. It also ignores the fact that the flag already is supposed to represent inclusivity and that the stripes represent specific concepts, none of which are race-related.

The rainbow flag is proudly used worldwide, including places like the Philippines where the majority are not white and where the racial makeup is more homogenous.

This systemic problem around the intersectionality of LGBT and race is mostly an American/Western problem. Not that it doesn’t happen in different forms elsewhere, but here, the divides are more along class and economic status. There are also some regional divides between Manileños and Visayans/Mindanaoans, where the northerners tend to discriminate against southerners – often in subtle or microaggressive ways.

Should we add some kind of stripe to represent the poor and impoverished members of our LGBT community here? Or to represent oppressed regions?

Gays in Taiwan Pride. How do the proposed black and brown stripes apply to Asian cultural milieus? (Image from Flickr user Xin Beitou.)

How about transwomen? Femmes? Bottoms? They experience a lot of discrimination even within the LGBT community (yes, we can be a sad, sad community that’s just as bad as the straights). Shall we add some kind of stripe (mauve? tangerine? lapiz lazuli? IDK) to represent their marginalization within the LGBT community?

So changing an iconic flag used globally just to address race issues of the USA seems quite self-centered of that country and ignores the needs of the global LGBT community where such issues may not really exist. As a “brown” non-American who lives in Asia, I think this is another case of Americans pushing for things that they should be consulting other nationalities on.

Besides, if you add black, should you not be adding white as well? And what will represent Asian-American and Native American minorities in the USA who are also subject to racial discrimination? Or are they already represented by the yellow and red stripes, which would be a horrific stereotype? Why elevate one or two racial minorities and ignore the others equally subject to bigotry?

But that is not the purpose of the LGBT flag, which already stands as it does for inclusivity and diversity of all. It’s not about the color of our skins, unless there are blue-skinned gay people I’ve yet to meet. By adding those stripes, we’re actually highlighting that they are “other” when they should not be; that the flag, in and of itself, represents us all already, and that we need to stop making these divides.

And quite frankly, it’s aesthetically displeasing.

As a friend said, add those stripes, and it stops being a rainbow.

It becomes a box of crayons.

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