It’s amazing how much of a kerfuffle these two additional stripes have stirred up. Before I wrote all of this, if you asked me point blank if I think the black and brown stripes should be added to the rainbow flag, and I had to give a yes or no answer, I don’t believe I could have given an honest, definitive answer. But thanks to the wonders of therapeutic writing, I believe I’ve sufficiently ordered my thoughts and examined the various angles enough to come to an informed conclusion. I’m still open to suggestions, though, if there’s something you think I’ve missed.
For starters, let’s dispense with the argument that there’s no brown and black in the rainbow. That argument is pedantic and you just look like an ass. We are all aware that the rainbow you see in the sky does not contain brown or black, but while the PRIDE flag was inspired by the rainbow, it was not meant to be a direct reproduction of it. If you want to be that technical, you should also be bitching about how the PRIDE flag only has six distinct colors whereas a rainbow is a continuous spectrum of the entire visible light spectrum.
An argument against adding the stripes that I think has the most merit is that the PRIDE flag’s colors do not now, nor have they ever, represented race. Aside from the meanings of the individual colors, the whole point of the rainbow was to symbolize the inclusion of everyone. Thus, it could be said that adding the black and brown stripes only serves to separate people of color (POC) from the rest of the community - you have the rainbow that is meant to be all inclusive, but then you have the separate colors for POC. I'm sure that was not the intent of those who thought of adding the black and brown stripes, but that's the visual that it gives.
I absolutely understand why many POC feel like they're ostracized from the rest of the "gay community" (For whatever worth and weight that concept even carries anymore… Just don’t get me started. That’s a topic for another post.). It can't be denied that there are a lot of gay people out there who throw around phrases like, "interested in white guys only," or, "no black/Asian/Latino/etc." But the problem I see with that argument is that you see the same thing among straight people. I'd venture to say the majority of straight white people only date other white people. But that isn't referred to as "racism in the straight community," it's just called "racism."
So why treat racism between gay white people and gay POC any differently? Maybe, just maybe, it's possible for people to be gay... and racist! Are you under the impression that gay people can't be racist the same way straight people can, that “gay racism” is somehow different from “straight racism” and must be solved separately from racism at large? Is there a rule that says because POC and gay people both have to struggle against the "moral majority" that we are supposed to somehow be immune to the various forms of senseless bigotry that plague our common enemy? I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this but, the thing to remember about gay people is that we’re still people, and in general, people suck.
BUT! Of course there’s a but. Do me a favor. Using the search engine of your choice, do an image search for “pride flags.” Take a moment to look over some of the results. How many different flags do you see? The rainbow PRIDE flag is generally thought to be the main flag of the LGBTQIA+ community, but within that community, there are many groups with their own flags. Why the need for so many flags? It’s a question of identity. We’re all part of the LGBTQIA+ community, but within that overarching community, there is a spectrum of communities, each bound by some common identity – gay, lesbian, bear, trans, asexual, bisexual, genderqueer, pansexual, the list goes on. Now, some might point out that the defining feature of the identities that fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella is that they refer to gender and sexuality, not race. True. However, for most, if not all, of these various identities, if you removed that aspect from a person’s life, they would most likely go largely unnoticed by the rest of society.
To clarify, let’s do a small thought experiment. I am a gay white man. In some alternate reality, there exists a version of me that is straight, but is otherwise the same in regards to physical traits and personality, and society at large is the same as in this reality. In that reality, my alter-ego would not be part of a group that is a common target of persecution. However, the same could not be said for a gay POC. In that same alternate reality, they would still be a POC in a society that is “white normative,” and they would still be a target of persecution. Ergo, I posit to you, dear reader, that for POC their race is an indispensible part of their identity – whether they like it or not. I believe that gay POC endure a struggle that is unique to them, that the rest of our colorful community does not have to contend with. Indeed, I think that may be a defining feature of each subgroup of the LGBTQIA+ community – in addition to the various sexual and gender aspects that define these communities, each faces a unique struggle. So why can’t POC have their flag, too? Rather than getting upset about POC having their own flag, how about we turn that energy towards eliminating the need for them to have their own flag?