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Progress Pride flag goes up over the Wisconsin State Capitol: What does it stand for?

Gay pride new sign, redesign. Rainbow LGBT progress flag waving on pole, blue cloudy sky background, new colors for black and brown people to be included . 3d illustration
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Nonbinary American designer Daniel Quasar created the Progress Pride flag to elevate the message of the original Pride flag.

Every June since 2019, Gov. Tony Evers has ordered the rainbow Pride flag to fly over the east wing of the Wisconsin State Capitol for LGBTQ Pride Month.

But for the first time in state history, the Progress Pride flag will be raised. It has the traditional rainbow Pride stripes along with an arrow on the left side made up of black, brown, light blue, light pink and white stripes.

Alex Corona is the director of community programming at Diverse & Resilient, a Milwaukee LGBTQ advocacy organization. She says the different colors in the arrow represent LGBTQ individuals of color and the transgender community, as well as those affected by HIV/AIDS.

The flag was created in 2018 by Daniel Quasar, a nonbinary, American designer. Quasar placed the arrow pointing to the right to show forward movement, while setting it along the left edge shows that progress still needs to be made.

Quasar says the redesign was inspired after the original rainbow Pride flag was modified in 2017 in the city of Philadelphia. Then in Seattle in 2018, the colors of the trans flag were added, in light blue, pink and white.

These additional colors were stacked on top of the rainbow and received pushback by some in the LGBTQ community who said the rainbow Pride flag already includes everyone.

“There was criticism of adding the black and brown stripes to the flag because many people questioned why we have to make this about race when it's just about the LGBT community,” says Corona. “But we in this country cannot separate any issue from race. We are a country built on the backs of Black and brown people. And we are a country that is based on white supremacy.”

Corona says the trans colors are rightfully included in the Progress Pride flag “because [trans people] have been historically neglected, but they are also so dangerously visible in every facet of society.”

She says there are trans lesbians, trans gay men, trans bisexual people, trans queer and straight people. “We exist in every single facet,” says Corona, “and we need to make sure that we are being represented and focused on because a lot of times we are left out of the conversation of queer liberation, even though we started it.”

Maayan Silver's extended conversation with Diverse & Resilient director Alex Corona.

Corona says the Progress Pride flag is a quick reminder and visual representation of the diversity within the LGBTQ community and the needs to move forward. She says it’s not the only part of the movement but it’s a good step.

“You’re not going to make everybody kind of like feel the best and most happy and most represented by it. But from all the communities that I represent, the intersections of people who I work with and live with, I feel that everybody feels better about the Progress Flag, and they feel more seen in it.”

She says it’s something that really represents them, and not just white gay men.

Corona says it’s important to keep updating the flag to be as inclusive as possible. “It's really important because we are so much more than just homosexuals,” she says. “And there's so much more to what we need from our environments, our workplaces and our country. And so especially when it comes to trans rights and when it comes to racial equality, that needs to be at the forefront of every movement’s conversation.”

Corona is glad to see the flag on the Wisconsin State Capitol but says that’s far from the end of the story.

“I'm glad that I live in a state where we can raise the flag on our capitol and that our governor is making it known that this is a state that believes in inclusion for everybody,” she says. “But it also feels performative. And at some point, not enough, and it feels like it is just a move to like get points from society.”

Corona says she sees that it is like a risk in a state like Wisconsin, that’s conservative in large swaths of the state, to be vocally supportive of LGBTQ people. But she says that's not enough. “We need legislation and a government and representatives that actually care and not just once a year for Pride Month.”

She says she wants this to become an ongoing conversation and not just a photo opportunity.

Maayan is a WUWM news reporter.
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