Moon Lesbian Flag, Explained

Recently, I was doing some research (scrolling on TikTok in bed at 7 a.m.) and happened across some lesbian information previously unknown to me, a lesbian. Apparently, there is a Pride flag called the Moon Lesbian Flag, meant as a contrast to the Sun Lesbian Flag, which is different entirely from the standard Lesbian Pride Flag I was familiar with. Have a look:

Exhibit A: The only Lesbian Pride Flag I knew of up until this week.

lesbian pride flag in oranges, pinks, and a white stripe in the middle

Exhibit B: Moon Lesbian Flag

Flag with 7 stripes: Dark purple, purple, medium lavender, off-white, light pinkish-purple, muted pastel pink, dark pink

Exhibit C: Sun Lesbian Flag

Flag with 7 stripes: Pinkish-red, redorange, orange, off-white, yellow-orange, light-ish brick red, brick red

I simply had to do an investigaytion into these celestial lesbian flag offerings. The results? Pretty inconclusive and incoherent. You see, a lot of these riffs on various Pride flags are just done for fun. People have put their own spins on a slew of lesbian flags. I even found a TikTok that displays a “Mean Lesbian Flag” and a “Nice Lesbian Flag.” If anyone would like to design a Mommi Lesbian Flag and a Daddy Lesbian Flag, I’m listening!

As far as the Moon Lesbian Flag goes, there’s a bounty of explanations for why it exists. Some say it’s for closeted lesbians, others claim it for femme lesbians, others assign it to lesbians who possess lunar energy. The bulk of explanations I found — largely on the unimpeachable platforms of Tumblr and TikTok, where a lot of these flag riffs originate — say the Moon Lesbian Flag and Sun Lesbian Flag exist merely as aesthetic alternatives to the Lesbian Pride Flag.

While there are a lot of discrepancies as to the meaning behind the Moon Lesbian Flag, one barely related but also important thing I learned on my journey into Lesbian Flag Discourse is that we’ve moved beyond the Lipstick Lesbian Flag due to its original designer making butchphobic, transphobic, and racist remarks on a now-deleted blog.

I originally entered this investigaytion seeking a direct answer to my inquiry, wound up going down a rabbit hole of colorful stripes, and ended up learning a lot about the sort of chaotic and lovely semiotics of Pride flags. Sure, there is a specific history to the lesbian flag and other Pride flags (and to queer symbols in general), but I’m newly obsessed with how this history has been — in my opinion — not necessarily co-opted on social media but expanded on into infinitum. A galaxy of flags has been born, and its vastness is both somewhat humorous and fascinating.

On TikTok, Tumblr, and Pinterest, there’s basically an endless meaning-making machine churning out new Pride flags all the time. Individual users can come up with new color combinations and assign whatever meanings they wish. There are flags that celebrate neurodivergent lesbians, nonbinary lesbians, and yeah lesbians who prefer the moon versus the sun. People chime in in the comments, often, to express kinship with these new flags. Skeptics lament their utility. What’s the point of so many flags? It feels worth noting that these aren’t even literal flags but rather flattened digital simulacra of flags — just blocks of color in a rectangular shape. They are, by design, mostly just decoration, so of course they’re endlessly mutable.

Does there need to be a point?

It got me thinking a lot about the rainbow flag itself and how it’s so easily co-opted and stripped of its meaning when in the hands of heteronormative institutions. Here in Orlando, businesses sport signs with the Pride flag on them that, if you look a little closer, express enthusiastic support for cops. Rainbow flags do not automatically indicate that a space is safe for all. At the same time, efforts to ban Pride flags are frightening. Here’s the Pride flag double bind: I don’t want to lose the flag, but I also don’t want to invest too much in its meaning.

So yeah, maybe one answer is to just inject anarchy into flag meaning-making. Straight people certainly can’t get their hands on these flags; I don’t think they’d really understand them at all. Because there isn’t much to understand! It’s just freak flag fun. So now, the Moon Lesbian Flag isn’t necessarily doing much. But doesn’t its nonsensicality make it, ironically, symbolize freedom in a pure form? I did not mean to get this deep in this investigaytion, but here we are.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 843 articles for us.

41 Comments

  1. Points for aesthetic variety, if nothing else. As someone with cool undertones, I looked like a melted gas station sandwich in the original (warm oranges) lesbian flag. I appreciate you, moon flag edition.

  2. I clicked on this article because I saw a moon lesbian flag bumper sticker on a car a few days ago. I knew it was a pride-related flag, but did not recognize the specific meaning at all. TIL, thank you!

  3. As a lesbian who’s always disliked the colours of the lesbian flag, I fully approve of both the moon lesbian flag, and the push to just say “fuck it” and create your own flags with the colours that are meaningful to you. I’m just gonna have my own individual flag. The Arvan12 flag. YDY. Create your own flag!

  4. So, I like the colors better on the moon flag, but I’d be just as good with a flag of variants of black and gray. I mean I wear black 24/7. Yes, even my pajamas are black. I’m the 90s Darlene Conner, style and attitude. 🤷🏻‍♀️

  5. While I like the pink/orange flag a lot, the moon one is pretty and I love the lavender association that comes with it. I’ve heard people complain that lesbian flags are almost never on pride merch (which, yeah, does probably come a lot from lesbian erasure in the public consciousness, blegh),but I appreciate that so many flag variations make us un-corporate-izable lol. Although, I do worry flag abundance leads to situations where people get really attached to niche internet arguments revolving around “this is the only right one” or “who is allowed to use what flag” that aren’t productive in real life. But the internet is going to be the internet I suppose.

    • Hrmm I think it makes us hyper corporatizable instead?? Like every identity niche identity needs a marker to be consumed and for people to feel ‘valid’ and ‘seen’

      • I get your point! I guess I mean “corporatizable” more from the perspective of what is on the merch that is being sold by big-box stores during June, if a lesbian flag is even included. But yeah, the overwhelming number of hyper niche identity marker consumption as “validity” is… rough.

    • I feel like the reason they’re less common on Pride march probably has to do with the fact that the orange and pink flag is only five years old? I’m guessing it’s not something most lesbians identify with, especially people who aren’t super online. Even other flags from Tumblr, like the pansexual flag (2010), are more widely understood in their communities.

      • I’m sure that accounts for some of it. I just can’t help but get grumpy when designs claiming to be representative of LGBTQ identities neglect to even look at anything regarding the first letter of the dang acronym. The labrys flag is from the 90s, and lipstick flag is from 2010 too. They’re not hard to find. It’s good we’ve moved on from the lipstick flag given the issues mentioned, but it doesn’t seem like a matter of how long some of them have been around.

  6. On the subject of other people using the Pride flag, during pandemic lockdowns in the UK, rainbows were used as a sign of supporting the NHS. Saying ‘they support the NHS’ has now become a joke whenever anyone wears rainbows with my friends now (and I assume countless other queer people in the UK)

    • I think that means we all just use the progressive pride flag now?!? That’s how it’s happened in our house anyway.
      My daughter told me to start a campaign to change the national flag from the union jack to the pride flag the other day – not sure how far her campaign will go, especially with all the royal stuff this year. But I love her attitude.

  7. Never heard of the Moon or Sun lesbian pride flags before this, but if the moon lesbian flag is supposed to be for femme lesbians, then I’m for it. Love the colors.

    Also, I hadn’t heard about the comments made by the lipstick lesbian flag creator before. Guess that’s a button that should come off my backpack. I wonder if I can find a moon lesbian button to replace it.

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