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Guide to LGBTQ+ Symbols and Signs

Updated/Revised Date: 22nd Nov 2022
Author: Sexual Diversity | Contact:
Additional References: LGBTQ+ Symbols Publications

Synopsis: Information and example images of LGBTQ+ symbols, including colors, designs, their meanings, symbolism, and a guide to their history.


LGBTQ+ Symbols

In the past, and currently in some countries to this day, LGBTQ+ people came up with many covert ways such as items of clothing, accessories, slang, styles, or small tattoos that could easily be covered up to signal to each other that they were part of the gay community. An example of common gender symbols today include astrological signs from ancient Roman times, such as the pointed Mars symbol representing males and the Venus symbol with the cross representing females.

Main Section

Throughout history, the LGBTQ+ community has adopted symbols, flags, and colors for self-identification to demonstrate unity, pride, shared values, and allegiance to one another. These signs and symbols communicate ideas, concepts, and identities within LGBTQ+ communities and everyday mainstream culture.

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Intertwined pink female and blue male symbols. The pointed Mars symbol represents males, and the Venus symbol with the cross represents females. Intertwined pink female and blue male symbols. The pointed Mars symbol represents males, and the Venus symbol with the cross represents females.


The original female and male gender symbols are derived from the astronomical symbols for the planets Venus and Mars, respectively. Following Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician, biologists use the planetary symbol for Venus to represent the female sex and the planetary symbol for Mars to represent the male sex.

Unicorns and Rainbows

In 2017, Alice Fisher of The Guardian wrote:

"The unicorn has also done its bit for the LGBT community in the last century... Rainbows and unicorns are so intrinsically linked (the association is also a Victorian invention) that, unsurprisingly, the magic creature started to appear on T-shirts and banners at Gay Pride around the world, with slogans such as 'Gender is Imaginary' or 'Totally Straight' emblazoned under sparkling rainbow unicorns."

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Colored silhouette figures of people with various gender symbols overlaying their heads.Colored silhouette figures of people with various gender symbols overlaying their heads.


Green Carnations

Nearly a century before the rainbow pride flag came onto the scene, LGBT people, most notably gay men, used another symbol to identify and connect, a green carnation. This came about due to Playwright Oscar Wilde. He had an actor wear one of these synthetically dyed green carnations onto the stage during a production of Lady Windermere’s Fan. Following the play's production, green carnations began to be worn in buttonholes of men's suits from the late 1800s. It was considered a symbol of the aesthetic movement and loving whoever you chose to love. When Wilde was prosecuted for loving men, people wore the green carnation to show support and solidarity.

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Latest LGBTQ+ Symbols Publications

The above information is from our reference library of material relating to LGBTQ+ Symbols that includes:

Inclusive Gender Signs Create Positive Attitudes to Trans, Nonbinary thumbnail image.
A study finds seeing all-gender signs in public places, like restrooms, was linked to adolescent acceptance of transgender and nonbinary people.
Publish Date: 17th Jan 2023
Gender Fluid Symbol thumbnail image.
General information regarding defining Gender Fluid includes an image of the Gender Fluid symbol.
Publish Date: 9th Nov 2022 - Updated: 17th Nov 2022
Genderqueer Nonbinary Symbol thumbnail image.
Facts and information regarding Genderqueer Nonbinary including an image of the Genderqueer symbol.
Publish Date: 8th Nov 2022 - Updated: 17th Nov 2022
Asexuality Symbol thumbnail image.
Information and history regarding the asexuality black ring symbol design, including an example image.
Publish Date: 6th Nov 2022 - Updated: 17th Nov 2022
Transgender Symbol thumbnail image.Transgender Symbol thumbnail image.
Information regarding the gender inclusivity symbol, also known as the transgender symbol, including images.
Publish Date: 5th Nov 2022 - Updated: 17th Nov 2022

1How Many Genders Are There?
Alphabetical list of gender identities.

2Transgender Reporting Guide
How to write about transgender people.

3Glossary of Sexuality Terms
Definitions of sexual terms & acronyms.

4Glossary of Sexual Identities
Definitions of gender related terms.

5Am I Gay? Questions to Ask
Think you may be gay or bisexual?

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• (APA): (2022, November 22). Guide to LGBTQ+ Symbols and Signs. Retrieved April 19, 2024 from

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