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Top 15 Symbols of Equality With Meanings

Silhouette of a parade of gays and lesbians with a rainbow flag at sunset.

The concept of equality is represented in society through an assortment of symbols. These symbols consist of everyday objects, logos, mythical figures, and flags. Ideals of social equality, justice, and fairness break biases, prejudices and discrimination. Movements of equality can gain prominence through symbols. Symbols are used to represent a concept or an ideology and give it recognition. 

Let’s take a look at the top 15 symbols of equality throughout history:

1. Venus Symbol

Venus Symbol.
Venus Symbol
MarcusWerthmannCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Venus symbol is used to portray all things feminine. This symbol is commonly used and seen outside women’s restrooms. However, this symbol has a lot more significance than people realize.

The Venus symbol is named after the Roman goddess, Venus – the goddess of fertility, beauty, desire, sex, and prosperity. Named after this popular female goddess, the Venus symbol represents femininity and denotes females. [1]

2. Round Table 

King Arthur's knights, gathered at the Round Table to celebrate Pentecost.
King Arthur’s knights, gathered at the Round Table to celebrate Pentecost.
Evrard d’Espinques, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The round table is symbolized for equality. It has its base from Arthurian legend in which King Arthur held his meetings with his knights. He would sit at the table which had no head or foot.

The knights could not claim any importance because there was no prominent place because of the table’s circular shape. Since that time, a round table has been a popular symbol of equality.

3. Equals Sign 

Equal Sign with Heart.
Equal Sign with Heart
RayneVanDunem, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The equal sign, also known as the equality sign, is the mathematical symbol denoted by “=.” When you have two expressions carrying the same value, you use this sign. It is also known as identical, equal, or even sign.

The sign was first used by Robert Recorde in the Whetstone of Witte. People immediately liked this symbol, and it has been in use since the 1700s.

4. Equality Balance

Equality balance is a project that enables legislative means to promote gender equality between men and women in Portugal. It also aims to reduce social inequalities between both genders.

The name for this project is adopted from Themis, a Greek goddess holding a balance in her hands.  She was one of the Titan children and was the second wife of Zeus. She is used as a symbol of justice, order, and equality worldwide. [2] [3]

5. Aequitas

Aequitas statue as a symbol of Justice.
Aequitas statue as a symbol of Justice
Image by Geralt from Pixabay

Aequitas is a symbol of justice, equality and fairness. In the Roman era, it was used in the legislative concept of equality or even when there was equality between people.

Aequitas was the personification of god as religious propaganda of the emperor. The name used was “Aequitas Augusti”, and its face was also engraved on coins, holding a balance in hand. The Aequitas was also a symbol of Honesty in this era. [4][5]

6. The Femme Fists

Femme Fists.
Femme Fists
Illustration 186201856 © Lanali1 | Dreamstime.com

Deva Perdue created the femme fists symbol in 2017. She created this illustration before the Women’s March to attract attention to the cause. The Femme Fists symbol consists of three raised fists of different skin tones wearing crimson nail polish.

The symbol gained popularity a couple of months following the march. An online retailer used the image on a t-shirt as a logo followed by the line ‘Fight like Girl.’ [6] Perdue’s concept for the Femme fists was slightly different from the online retailers. The Femme Fists design advocated the concept ‘For All Womankind.’

Perdue realized that racism and women’s rights were interlinked. If we erase racist ideals, we also propagate women empowerment. Social equality was directly interlinked with gender equality.

7. Labrys Pride Flag

Pride Serbia 2019 - Lesbian Labrys Pride Flag.
Pride Serbia 2019 – Lesbian Labrys Pride Flag
Bojan Cvetanović, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Initially designed in 1999 by Sean Campbell, the Labrys Pride Flag is a notable symbol of the lesbian community, even if it has not been entirely adopted. One reason could be that this flag was designed by a gay man rather than a lesbian. Various trans groups have used the Labrys Pride Flag to represent their campaigns but this symbol was originally created for the lesbian community. 

There are several significant concepts behind this flag’s design. The Labrys was a mythical weapon commonly utilized by the Amazons. Feminists adopted the symbol in the 1970s to signify empowerment. The inverted black triangle surrounding the labrys was a symbol used by the Nazis.

They pinned it on homosexual women to mark them and labeled them ‘asocial.’ Today, the inverted triangle is interpreted as a symbol of strength. The violet background of the Labrys pride flag is a reference to Sappho’s poetry and represents lesbians. [7]

8. Lipstick Lesbian Pride Flag

Lipstick lesbian Pride Flag.
Lipstick lesbian Pride Flag
xles (SVG file), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“Lipstick Lesbian” is slang term used to refer to a woman who is lesbian but largely displays feminine attributes. She has all feminine women’s characteristics and likes wearing dresses, skirts, and makeup (hence the term ‘lipstick’). The phrase is also used to refer to bisexual women. [8]

This term was coined in the 1980s and became very popular in the 1990s. The Lipstick Lesbian group is a subgroup of the lesbian group and this flag represents their identity. There were several claims of plagiarism within this flag design due to its resemblance to the Cougar pride flag. [9]

9. Gilbert Pride Flag

 Gilbert Pride Flag.
Gilbert Pride Flag
Gilbert Baker, Tomislav Todorović, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pride flags are flags that symbolize the LGBTQ community. There are over 20 different types of pride flags representing different aspects of the LGBTQ community that have been in use since 1977. They are used for various purposes, such as coming out or showing support for the LGBTQ community. 

The Gilbert Pride flag is one of the most famous top 15 symbols of equality. It was the first gay pride flag ever created. Gilbert Baker was a military veteran who was openly gay. Inspired by Harvey Milk, who has fought vigorously for the LGBTQ community, Gilbert wanted a symbol representing the gay community. Hence, he created the rainbow flag that had eight different colors.

Each color represented a concept. Hot pink stood for sex, red stood for life, orange meant to heal, yellow symbolized the vitality of sunlight, green hinted at nature and the natural world, turquoise referred to art and magic, indigo referred to serenity, and violet represented the steadfast spirit of the LGBTQ people. [10]

10. Pink Triangle

Congresswoman Pelosi at the Friends of the Pink Triangle Ceremony.
Congresswoman Pelosi at the Friends of the Pink Triangle Ceremony
Image Courtesy: Flickr

The Pink Triangle was used to identify and shame gay men in Nazi Germany. Homosexuality was illegal in Germany since 1871 but was enforced by the Nazi party in 1933. Gay men were placed in concentration camps and a downward pointing pink triangle was sewn to their clothes. The Nazi party viewed LGBTQ people as degenerate and arrested thousands of them during their tenure. Most consisted of gay men. [11] 

In the 1970s, protests against homophobia broke out, and the pink triangle was used as a symbol. Since then, the larger LGBTQ community has started using this symbol; it became a popular LGBTQ symbol to represent the LGBTQ movement. Initially a symbol of shame, it was transformed into a symbol of strength by the community. [12]

Today the pink triangle stands for a lot more than just the gay community. It stands for pride or the effort to love yourself. It also stands for protest, to fight for something you believe in, and for community spirit, your friends, and family. [13]

11. Human Rights Symbol

The Human Rights logo can be described as the outline of a hand and a bird combined. It can also be interpreted as a hand grabbing a bird. This logo was created to strengthen human rights and unify cultures as well as languages and borders. It is free from rights and can be used by anyone without legal implications.

This logo was created to internationally recognize human rights. Today it stands as a vivid symbol unifying cultures, languages and ethnicities. 

Another purpose of the human rights logo was to support the global human rights movement. To choose a logo an international online competition was held in May 2011. The global public was encouraged to submit designs that were then voted. This competition was one of the largest and most complex crowdsourcing projects conducted.

There were a total of 15,300 submissions from 190 different countries. From these submissions, the top hundred logos were selected. An international jury further narrowed this down to the top 10 logos. Then a three-week-long voting process began in which the internet community voted for the winning logo. The competition ended on 23rd September 2011. The winning logo was from a candidate from Serbia named Predrag Stakic. [14]

12. Bisexual Pride

The bisexual pride flag.
The bisexual pride flag
Peter Salanki from San Francisco, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Michael Page created the Bisexual pride flag in 1998. This flag is hot pink from the top, dark blue from the bottom, and has one purple stripe. It is also usually seen as pink and blue, blending to form purple. Like all pride flags, the bisexual pride flags stripes also hold symbolic significance.

The pink portion of the flag represents attraction to the same sex. The blue portion of the flag represents attraction to the opposite sex. Lastly, the purple stripe represents attraction to more than one gender. [15][16]

13. Transgender Pride Flag

Transgender Pride Flag.
Transgender Pride Flag
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Transgender Pride Flag was created in 1999 by Monica Helms, an openly American transgender woman. This flag consists of baby blue, baby pink, and white stripes. It has a baby blue stripe on the top, followed by a baby pink stripe.

There is a white stripe in the center, followed by another baby pink stripe and another baby blue stripe. Helms used baby pink and baby blue because these colors traditionally represent baby boys and baby girls in our society. The white stripe stands for an undefined gender or a neutral gender.

It also stands for transitioning into whichever gender you prefer. Helms also described the flag as perfectly symmetrical. No matter which way it is flown, it is always correct. This also represents looking for the correctness and right and rational in our lives. [17]

14. Intersex Pride Flag

OII Australia created the Intersex pride flag in July 2013. This flag is entirely yellow and features a purple outlined circle in the center. The reason to use purple and yellow was that both these colors were considered ‘hermaphrodite’ colors.

The circle outlined in the center is unornamented and unbroken. This shows completeness and wholeness. It also shows each individual’s potential and that intersex person are just as special as anyone else. Another reason to choose these colors (initially chosen by Morgan Carpenter) was that none of these colors were linked to social constructs to define binary genders. 

15. Asexual Community Flag

Asexual Community Flag.
Asexual Community Flag
https://twitter.com/alleZSoyez, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network created this flag in 2010. By definition, being asexual refers to a lack of sexual inclination in an individual. It can also mean low interest in sexual activity. However, being asexual can also mean different things to different people.

For some, it may also mean depending on other types of attraction instead of sexual attraction. This flag consists of purple, white, gray, and black stripes. Black represents being asexual. Gray represents folks who are demi-sexual.

These people develop sexual attraction to someone only after forming a close bond with them. White stands for all the allies of the asexual community and purple represents the entire asexual community as a whole.

Summary

Symbols of equality hold prime importance in society. These symbols represent a cause, mission, or ideology representing fairness, justice and social equality. How many of these symbols of equality were you already aware of? Let us know in the comments section below!

References

  1. https://redyellowblue.org/venus-symbol/ 
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Themis
  3. https://eeagrants.org/archive/2009-2014/projects/PT07-0006
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aequitas
  5. https://www.spirit-animals.com/animals-by-symbolism/equality/
  6. https://elephant.art/the-real-meanings-behind-six-symbols-of-protest-01072020/
  7. https://heckinunicorn.com/blogs/heckin-unicorn-blog/what-is-the-lesbian-labrys-pride-flag-and-what-does-it-mean
  8. das Nair, Roshan; Butler, Catherine, eds. (2012). “Gender, by Sonja J. Ellis”. Intersectionality, Sexuality and Psychological Therapies: Working with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Diversity. BPS Blackwell. p. 49
  9. https://heckinunicorn.com/blogs/heckin-unicorn-blog/what-is-the-lipstick-lesbian-pride-flag-and-what-does-it-mean
  10. https://www.volvogroup.com/en/news-and-media/news/2021/jun/lgbtq-pride-flags-and-what-they-stand-for.html
  11. https://www.history.com/news/pink-triangle-nazi-concentration-camps
  12. Shankar, Louis (April 19, 2017). “How the Pink Triangle Became a Symbol of Queer Resistance”. HISKIND. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  13. https://www.cbc.ca/kidscbc2/the-feed/why-pink-triangles-are-special
  14. “Serbian designer wins competition for a global human rights logo”
  15. https://outrightinternational.org/content/flags-lgbtiq-community
  16. https://www.volvogroup.com/en/news-and-media/news/2021/jun/lgbtq-pride-flags-and-what-they-stand-for.html
  17. https://outrightinternational.org/content/flags-lgbtiq-community

Cite this article

The Editors of Give Me History, "Top 15 Symbols of Equality With Meanings," Give Me History, January 17, 2022, https://www.givemehistory.com/symbols-of-equality.

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