Not all rainbows stand for LGBTIQ+.

I see colourful flags all over the world, but there is something that bothers me. 

Equality, acceptance, unity – they say.

But honestly, I do not feel included in this. 

Yes, it includes all the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – but it doesn’t include me. Isn’t this supposed to be about integrity? About union? Why do we then keep creating symbols which separate?

Instead, we should create symbols that represent all of humanity. 

And stop dividing us into races, genders, colours, countries, opinions or beliefs. 

Living in Colombia, my good friend and partner Luis Tubagua brought me in contact with a very different rainbow flag, which resonated a lot more with me and taught me something about real integrity and unity. And I began to study with him.

It was that moment I realised, that the Gay Pride Flag was actually the last of all the rainbow flags invented, but somehow took all the other ones over in a heartbeat. 

There exist many more rainbow flags which are much much older than the Gay Pride Flag. But nowadays, the rainbow is more and more connected to the LGBTIQ+ movement. 

I want to introduce to you some of the most important rainbow flags all over the globe – and maybe you will realise something.

Gay Pride Flag 

The flag everyone knows. The Gay Pride Flag was designed in 1978 by the gay artist Gilbert Baker who wanted to create a symbol for the gay community. The flag represents the LGBTIQ+ community and movement. The colours reflect the diversity of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people and their different sexual orientations. The Pride flag doesn’t include heterosexual people. 

The meaning of each colour:

colourmeaning
hot pinksex
redlife
orangehealing
yellowsunlight
greennature
turquoiseart
indigoharmony
violetspirit

Wiphala 

Also called Chakana or Cruz Andina, the Wiphala is not a flag, but a symbol of equality and harmony. It represents unity in diversity and “el nuevo amanecer” (the new sunrise) – the rise of humanity and a new era. The 49 squares represent all the Andean territories and indigenous communities. In the past, every community and tribe in South America had different rituals, customs, languages, clothes, music and architecture. 

But going beyond a certain territory or tribe, the Wiphala is a symbol of the union of all the human races. Representing every human being with his very own heritage, style, way of speaking, favourite music and daily routines. This symbol goes beyond any identification, orientation or community. It’s all-inclusive. 

The traditional meaning of the colours:

colourtraditional namemeaning
redPachamamathe mother earth, the material world
orangeJaqitaking responsibility of duality, when man and woman complement each other
yellowAynireciprocity and complementarity, the energy which unites all life
whitePachatime and space, a life in harmony with everything
greenManqhapacha y Akapachathe internal and external world 
blueAlaxpacha y Pachakamathe above, cosmic energy and spirit
violetAyilu y Sumaqamañacommunity, equilibrium with all that is 

As you can see, the Wiphala is much more inclusive than the well known Gay Pride Flag, carrying an ancient history and traditions within its colours. 

But besides those two, there are also other rainbow flags:

Tawantinsuyo

Tawantinsuyo means “four nations” in Quechua, the native language of the Andes. Representing the ancient Inca territory, the Tawantinsuyo already have already existed for more than 500 years. 1987, the Andean flag was made a symbol of the capital of Ecuador, Cusco.

Due to its similarity to the LGBTIQ+ flag, many tourists are confused when they first come to Cusco. But the two flags are indeed different. The Tawantinsuyo has 7 colours, the LGBTIQ+ flag has only 6. Due to a lot of confusion, the Municipality of Cusco even called a forum named “Validity of the flag of Cusco”, with the conclusion to change the design of the flag – but until this day, this never happened. 

Peace Flag

Besides the Andean tradition, I want to mention another inclusive rainbow flag – the peace flag. It is an initiative to unite all nations of this world and stands for justice and equity. It was first created in the 1961s peace movement and since then used in demonstrations and installations for world peace, as well as on the world peace day on 21 September. 

Buddhist Flag

The flag was 1885 designed in Sri Lanka and represents the six colours of the aura of Buddha when he was enlightened. The colours stand for compassion, purity, the middle way, the blessings of practice and the teachings of Buddha. 

There exist a lot more rainbow flags we have probably never heard of, but one thing is clear:

The rainbow as a symbol of hope was and will forever be an inclusive, not exclusive symbol.

If you are interested to know more about the Andean tradition and medicine, check out Uba Sua, the Colombian medicine community I support.

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