In all honesty this project is not one that I was initially interested in. I thought that as a queer community we had enough flags. The leather flag, the bear flag, the bi and trans flags and of course the rainbow/liberty flag. I identify with the rainbow flag, and for a while I identified with the bi flag, insisting on wearing it in queer spaces long after I no longer identified as bisexual because of the amount of biphobia I encountered within the queer community. I don’t believe splintering our small community is a good thing. I think that symbols of division are problematic. From the start I was pretty much dead set against a new symbol that divided people neatly along gender lines, and not just because I thought it reinforced the gender binary.
Looking back it is hard to see how I got here. I am now vocally in support of this project and am spending time and money working with other queer women to start a collective to launch this flag onto the international stage.
Many of my initial reservations remain. I do think it reinforces the binary gender system which is not a concept I support. I think it could be divisive. I support it anyway, and not just because of the charisma and charm of the designer. Of the queer flags I mentioned only the trans flag has been created by someone that doesn’t identify as male. Both the leather and bear flags are associated with men, while none of them are predominately associated with women. The historical invisibility of women in the queer community, despite high levels of activism, continues to be problematic. Publications routinely feature gay male and not female stories. Links are made on the basis of our identification as bisexual, lesbian or trans (or inter-sexed, asexual, kinky, poly, questioning…) and little attention is given to our shared experience as women (for those of us that identify comfortably in that way at least). For me this flag offers an opportunity frame our common and shared experience. It provides a focus to knit our queer communities together beyond those separate identities to find common interests that differ from the most vocal group in our LGBT community (cis, white, middle class, gay men).
The flag concept isn’t unproblematic. I can’t escape the nagging issues around reinforcing the gender binary. I wonder whether I am exercising privilege in acknowledging and then dismissing the issue. It isn’t one central to my life despite my questioning of my own gender identity and genderqueerness. I return to the point where I see we live in a gendered society where power is unevenly distributed to the detriment of women. Where in our queer community womens voices get lost in the clamour. I hope this flag provides a rallying point to assert our strength as queer women.
I just hope it doesn’t further silence the sections of our community courageously challenging the notions of the binary…