Now in he twenty-first century there are a plethora of flags and symbols to represent all aspects of the LGBT community. But in the beginning there was just one. The Lambda symbol.
The lambda symbol has a long and complex history within the “community”. The symbol is derived from the Greek alphabet, where it represents the letter “L”. It was first adopted by the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) in the early 1970s as a symbol of resistance and solidarity. Additionally, the lambda symbol was chosen because it was not a well-known symbol, which made it more effective as a secret code among gay activists. The logo was designed by a graphic designer named Tom Doerr, who was a member of the organization.
The GAA was one of the most prominent gay rights organizations in the United States. The group was founded in December 1969, just six months after the Stonewall riots in New York City. The GAA was known for its aggressive tactics, including direct action protests and demonstrations, and its members were committed to fighting for the rights of LGBT+ people everywhere.
The Lambda was officially declared the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights in 1974.
Over time, the lambda symbol became more widely recognized as a symbol of the community. It was often used on buttons, t-shirts, and other merchandise, and was a common sight at gay pride events for decades. That is until some members of the community criticized it as being too closely associated with white, middle-class gay men (GASP THE HORROR), and not inclusive enough of other groups within the LGBTQ+ community.
Today it is rarely seen and many younger gay men have no idea of it’s meaning or deep history and is all but forgotten.
Despite this criticism, the lambda symbol remains an important and recognizable symbol of the gay community and it’s history. And this should be “reclaimed” by gay male activists again to show their power and pride.