• Dee Morgan

The History of Polyamory Flags

Texy saying 'the polyamory pride flag: a history', with a timeline from 1995 to 2022 (with an arrow continuing past the latter date). Above the timeline are four polyamory flags, plus a black circle with pink hearts within it, and the word 'vote'.

For many years now there have been designs, symbols, or ways of 'flagging' to show that polyamory is a significant part of your identity - some subtle and only recognisable by others in the community, and others more broadly connected in the eyes of the general (and often mononormative) public.

But why have there been so many?

Part of it is that no one seems to be able to agree on a representative design. Every so often a person will conclude that they don’t like the options out there and proceed to create a new flag design, sharing it around online. Some people like it and pick it up, and others don’t, and the various polyamorous people and communities around the world remain divided on their preference. This new design gets added to the pile of designs out there, and the ‘accepted’ polyam flag design (often the very first one, created by Jim Evans) remains the same. And around it goes again.

25 polyamory flags shown in a 5x5 grid. To the right, text says 'why hasn't one caught on?'

Right now there are dozens of polyam pride flag designs floating around on the internet, but none of them have caught on enough to become ‘the one’. This is why PolyamProud exists - to bring enough polyamorous and consensually non-monogamous people together to vote on a new flag, and to bring a new ‘accepted’ design into existence.

Here’s a brief timeline of just a few of the flags out there:

1995 - The ‘Pi’ flag, created by Jim Evans

Symbolism: blue - representing openness and honesty amongst partners; red - representing love and passion; black representing solidarity with those who are forced to hide their polyam relationships due to societal pressures. The pi symbol references the word ‘polyamory’ as it also starts with ‘p’; and the gold of the pi symbol represents the value placed on emotional attachment (friendly and/or romantic), not just physical connections.

Jim Evans created this flag in the early days of the internet with limited tools available to him. Since then, many polyamorous folks have found it challenging to look at, its symbology ambiguous or obscure, and its overall design unwelcoming - cue decades of attempted redesigns.

2016 - The Polyamory flag with infinity heart, created by Monroe aka RatLab Art

Symbolism: The colours are slightly softened but meanings remain the same as in the Pi Flag, with a change out from the pi symbol to the infinity heart symbol.

2019 - Poly Flag, created by Emma Essex

Symbolism: the colours (cyan, light red, and black for the stripes, with white behind the infinity heart, which is light red and cyan) are lightened from the original pi flag but likely share the same symbolic meaning. When sharing this flag on the internet, Emma tweeted that the pi flag left her "so visually offended that I had to make my own version using the infinity heart instead, while maintaining the general meaning of the chosen colors."

2020 - Polyamory Pride Flag, created by Molly Colleen Bennett Wilvich

Symbolism: lime green - representing growth and kindness; kelly green - representing balance and harmony; sky blue - representing freedom, self expression, wisdom, and joy; royal blue - representing trust, responsibility, honesty, loyalty, and inner security. The infinity heart touches every other colour on the flag, unifying the concepts that the colours represent, and is white - representing the combination of all the colours.

2022 - Well, that depends on which design wins the vote!

Now, for the first time, non-monogamous and polyamorous people will have an opportunity to choose a new flag together. With nearly 20,000 people already signed up to vote on new designs this November, we're making polyamorous history.

We want a Polyamory Pride flag to have symbolism which is distinctive, has visual clarity, is readable / recognisable, and will be memorable. Ideally, this will also have benefits for social unity, political visibility, and reduced costs (if one accepted flag design is being made and shared around, mass production becomes easier).

Once the winning flag design is announced, we’ll register the flag design under a creative commons licence, ensuring that it will be available and accessible to the public. Additionally, although it may not make it onto the final flag design voted for, the five-heart symbol we designed to represent this initiative is already available for public use. As with the eventual flag chosen, it’s a gesture from us to you that we’re not interested in or poised to profit from this initiative—we just want a better flag for everyone.

Voting will open at the start of November 2022, so make sure you’re on the mailing list and you’ll receive a reminder when voting starts!