• Molly

New Polyamory Pride Flag

Updated: Aug 19, 2020


New Polyamory Pride Flag Design

About the flag design

This flag is intended to be inclusive of all polyamorous people, including those who may have identities that intersect with polyamory. It includes those who are aromantic, asexual, demisexual, graysexual, or allosexual. It includes relationship anarchists, single polyamorous folks, polyamorous people who are situationally monogamous, and those who practice solo polyamory. It is intended to be inclusive of polyamorous people of any religious background, sexual or gender identity, race, color, sex, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, national origin, or any other characteristic. I intentionally did not use red in the design, because that is a color often associated with passion, especially sexual passion. I think that while polyamory is about sexual passion for some, for others it is not. I wanted a flag that could just as easily represent people who are asexual as well as those who allosexual.


Flag colors

The flag is comprised of four stripes, all of equal height. The colors of this flag include lime green for growth, kelly green for balance, sky blue representing freedom, and royal blue for trust. The infinity heart represents the concept of infinite love. The infinity heart in this flag touches every other color on the flag, unifying the concepts that the colors represent. The infinity heart is white, for two reasons. First, not many colors looked good against the other colors I selected, and I wanted something that was easy on the eyes. Second, in the Red/Green/Blue (RGB) color spectrum, white is the color you get when red, green, and blue are combined, and thus represents the combination of all the colors. Philosophically, that made sense to me when viewed through the lens of polyamory: it represents many uniting to create something new and different.


Lime Green | Growth

This color also represents kindness.


HEX | #94C83D

RGB | R: 148 | G: 200 | B: 61

CMYK | C 20% | M 0% | Y 55% | K 22%

Pantone Coated | 2299 C

Pantone Uncoated | 2292 U

Pantone Polyester | 15-0262 TSX



Kelly Green | Balance

This color also represents harmony.


HEX | #09743B

RGB | R: 9 | G: 116 | B: 59

CMYK | C 42% | M 0% | Y 22%   K 55%

Pantone Coated | 3536 C

Pantone Uncoated | 3522 U

Pantone Polyester | 18-6032 TSX



Sky Blue | Freedom

This color also represents self expression, wisdom, and joy.


HEX | #4CBFEE

RGB | R: 76 | G: 191 | B: 238

CMYK | C 64% | M 18% | Y 0% | K 7%

Pantone Coated | 2985 C

Pantone Uncoated | 2985 U

Pantone Polyester | 15-4535 TSX


Royal Blue | Trust

This color also represents responsibility, honesty, loyalty, and inner security.


HEX | #28246C

RGB | R: 40 | G: 36 | B: 108

CMYK | C 27% | M 28% | Y 0% | K 58%

Pantone Coated | 2756 C

Pantone Uncoated | 072 U

Pantone Polyester | 19-3949 TSX


White

There is a lot of symbology associated with the color white, many of which are racist. Read above, under "About the flag design" to learn why I chose it for this flag.


HEX | #FFFFFF

RGB | R: 255 | G: 255 | B: 255

CMYK | C 0% | M 0% | Y 0% | K 0%

Pantone | Opaque white



Acceptable uses

I am making this flag freely available for anyone to use, under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). This means that it can be built upon and modified, provided you give me credit (attribution) for the original design, and share it under identical terms. I am making the raw graphic files available for anyone who would like to use them. It is fine for you to use this design to make products that you sell to others, and for you to make a profit from those products. I do not require any compensation from you if you use this flag design. (Though I would love to hear about how you use it, so please send me links!) If you would like to use this design for a specific purpose and none of the graphics here or on GitHub suit your purpose, drop me a line on Facebook and I'll be happy to help you out. :)


Also, because people have asked, here's a version that is appropriately sized for a Facebook cover photo.

Facebook Cover Photo

History of the Polyamory Pride Flag

The original polyamory pride flag, created by Jim Evans.

For those of you who geek out on history and design, I'm including this section for you!


Jim Evans created the original a polyamory pride flag that (over time) became the pride flag most often associated with our community. I actually knew Jim Evans back in the day, since we both lived in the east side in the Seattle area, and I totally had a crush on his then-wife. I remember talking to him about his flag design at a party he hosted at his house. He created it because at the time, no polyamory pride flag existed. He made it using Microsoft Paint, using websafe colors. (Tech history sidebar: 20+ years ago, there was a limit to how many colors monitors could accurately display, and there was a list of colors that were considered "safe" to use on the web because those would mostly be represented accurately, depending on the person's monitor settings. When I started using computers in 1983, there were only about 16 colors that could be used, but by the time Evans made his flag, there was a dizzying array of 216 "websafe" colors he could use.) Evans chose bright blue (representing openness and honesty among all partners with whom we conduct our multiple relationships); bright red (representing love and passion); and black (representing solidarity with those who, though they are open and honest with all participants of their relationships, must hide those relationships from the outside world due to societal pressures.)


There's a fair bit of confusion about what the pi symbol was meant to represent. A number of the sources I found online state that it was chosen because the first letter of polyamory is a "P" and pi also starts with a "P." I don't know where they got that information, but it is incorrect. The pi symbol was initially chosen because pi is a never-ending decimal, and because it was one of the few symbols available to Evans in Microsoft Paint. number. To a largely nerdy community, that seemed like a clever play on polyamorous people having infinite love. The other idea of using pi was that it wouldn't be automatically interpreted as being a polyamorous symbol, so that people who were not out about being polyamorous could use it without anyone knowing what it meant, so they wouldn't be exposed for their non-traditional lifestyle.


At the time, I was more taken by a graphic that a friend of mine had created around the same time that Jim Evans published his flag design. It was a circle made of many hearts, in a rainbow of colors, and it had an infinity symbol in the middle of it. That resonated for me as a polyamorous person, and it always stuck in my head as a good representation of what polyamory is as a concept. In the last several years, many people have used the infinity symbol inside a heart to represent infinite love. To me, this is a much clearer expression of polyamory than a pi symbol.


How I arrived at this new polyamory flag design

Professionally, I work in user experience, which roughly means I design digital experiences for users of the products my company makes. I consider myself a student of visual language, so I'm deeply entrenched in thinking about visual and symbolic communication. I get really nerdy and excited about icon design, and small spot illustrations that have a limited amount of space to communicate a complex idea. I can spend hours pondering the design of the "save" icon! Many years ago, I bought a book called The Dictionary of Symbols, which is a series of "discussions of various aspects of ideograms." These include a discussion of signs and meanings, an overview of the historical development of signs, as well as sections on ancient American ideograms, the astrological system of symbols, the mystical pentagram, and the signs of the alchemists. I poured over that book when I first received it! I also keep a copy of it on my bookshelf, as one of the few books that I would rather have physically, rather than digitally. While the infinity heart symbol doesn't show up in that book, the lesson I took away from it is there's extraordinary value in using visual imagery that doesn't require complex explanation for the layperson to understand. And that's really where the original polyamory pride flag falls down for me.

Analogous color schemes

After decades of being annoyed about the polyamory pride flag, I took it upon myself to improve upon it. I wanted to move away from the garish colors of the original, and use symbology that was easier to comprehend. I then dug into some research on colors and their meanings. I used many different resources to choose the colors, but Smashing Magazine (a prominent design publication) has a thorough article on color theory psychology. It was one of several resources I used to arrive at the color palette I ultimately chose. Unintentionally, I ended up with a spread of analogous colors, which is a combination of colors that appear next to each other on the color wheel. Even though that wasn't a goal I had in creating this design, it does help create visual balance and harmony.


Update: August 12, 2020

I received some feedback about the design, and I wanted to clarify a few points.


I created this new version based the years of experience I have working as a user experience designer/strategist. I'm very familiar with color theory psychology, due to the nature of the work I do professionally. I did a fair bit of research to arrive at the colors I selected; they were not just colors that I thought looked pretty. I chose those colors for the meanings regularly ascribed to them. If you want to read more about color theory, Smashing Magazine has a pretty great article about the psychology behind color theory. If I had been picking my favorite colors, the flag would have either been based on teal and red (because I LOVE that color combo!) or an analogous violet spectrum, with the addition of orange. I didn't chose colors that I personally enjoy, because my intention was not to create a flag that was simply something that I found visually appealing; it was to create a flag for the whole polyamorous community.


Visual language and symbols have always been fascinating to me. With this design, I was looking to create something that was able to be quickly understood and interpreted. Because polyamory isn't all that mainstream, it will probably still need explanation by people who are unfamiliar with polyamory. And that's okay! That's sort of the nature of us being a bit more on the fringes. But the intention with this flag is that as soon as I explain what polyamory *is* to someone not familiar with the concept, the heart infinity symbol should become rather self-explanatory.


Many symbols are used for multiple purposes, and that's okay, too! It might have associations that some people find upsetting. I personally find many symbols upsetting, or I have bad associations with them, so I definitely understand when people have Feelings about symbols. The Christian association that some people have with the infinity heart symbol is definitely not one that I share, as I am Jewish. My wife was raised in a fundamentalist, evangelical cult (true story!), and she is not familiar with the infinity heart being used in any of the communities where she once participated. That doesn't mean people aren't out there using it, since it certainly sounds like some are! I've only ever seen it used to represent polyamory, though it's a symbol that can easily be interpreted in a variety of ways. To my mind, that's a feature of the symbol, rather than a bug. If a symbol can only be used in one way ever, then that is really called a logo, and needs a copyright. The infinity heart symbol could, in theory, be copyrighted, but that's very against my political beliefs about capitalism. I'm not copyrighting my flag design that incorporates the infinity heart symbol, because I don't intend to profit from it. Anyone can make whatever they want with it! It is freely shared, and available to all.


I also stand in solidarity with people who cannot be out about being polyamorous, and I agree that not being outed a very real concern for a number of polyamorous individuals. Evans' pride flag used both the black bar to communicate that intention, as well as the pi symbol to obscure the meaning of his flag. To me, having a pride flag specifically call out solidarity with those who have to hide their relationships feels like the very opposite of pride to me. In looking through various collections of pride flags, I did not see this as an intention that any of them were aiming to communicate, and I think that's because hiding is not what pride is about.


Download the flag graphics from GitHub.

New Polyamory Pride Flag by Molly Colleen Bennett Wilvich is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0



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