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Want to say you’re into women without actually saying it? Then use these lesbian symbols!

Robyn Exton

Jun 14, 2023

Want to say you’re into women without actually saying it? Then use these lesbian symbols!

You might be here because you want to find the perfect matching tattoo for you and your girlfriend, new ways to communicate how gay you are, or simply want to learn more about lesbian history!

Well, we’re about to dive into a world of meaning, empowerment, and unique expressions of sapphic love.


A crash course on lesbian and queer symbolism

Let’s dive into the fascinating history of lesbian symbols, starting with the iconic lesbian flag and its many variations. 

So, picture this: back in 1999, a clever graphic designer named Sean Campbell created the first-ever lesbian flag, which is the one known for representing the Lesbian Feminist movement, with an axe in the middle of a black inverted triangle, surrounded by a violet hue. 

 It quickly became a symbol of lesbian pride and visibility, you would see it flaunted at every queer event and activist rallies. For the first time lesbians had a different symbol to represent their unique love and struggles, but it was replaced 11 years later by Natalie McCray’s lipstick lesbian flag, with red and pink stripes.

Source: Sioux Falls Pride

Fast forward to 2018 — the year the lesbian flag got a little makeover. Emily Gwen created the “sunset flag” because, as the lesbian community grew, diversity came along, and the previous two flags did not fit the panorama anymore. With a broad color palette including oranges and dark pinks (as we see in the image above), it was made to include all kinds of lesbian identities and values:

  • Dark Orange – Gender-non conformity
  • Coral orange – Independence
  • Light orange – Community
  • White  – Unique relationship to womanhood
  • Pink – Serenity and Peace
  • Pastel pink – Love and Sex
  • Dark Pink – Femininity

Now, flags aren’t the only symbols out there. By wearing the flag’s colors, you can say, “Hey, I love women!” Other ways Gen Z lesbians make themselves known is by asking, “Do you listen to Girl In Red?” So yeah, iconography is used in plenty of ways to represent a community, and that’s exactly what we’ll cover today in this article.


Lesbian symbols explained 

Symbols have always played a vital role in human communication, expressing ideas and identities when words alone may fall short. For the lesbian community, symbols hold a special significance, serving as visual expressions of identity, solidarity, pride, and resistance, providing a way to connect with others and create a sense of belonging within the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Some of the symbols include:

  • Interlocking Venus
  • Lambda
  • Violet — flower and color
  • White Lily
  • Pinky rings
  • Cats

They offer a visual language that transcends barriers and speaks to the rich diversity of lesbian experiences. Whether you use them in clothing, ink, jewelry, or art, knowing that you have things that hold significance to your community is something truly wonderful.

Of course, we have the iconic rainbow that shines above everybody in the LGBTQIA+ community, but there is a world of symbols out there that lesbians can use and enjoy, so let’s explain some of them!


Interlocking Venus symbols

If you’re all about that goddess energy, you’ll love the interlocking Venus symbols. Being the most famous representation of lesbians, inspired by the Roman goddess of love herself, these symbols combine two feminine Venus symbols into a heart-like shape. It’s the perfect way to show the world the connection between you and your loving lady.

Source: Reddit


Lambda

Back in the 70s, within the riots and marches for their rights, the Greek letter lambda became the ultimate symbol of lesbian and gay activism. It’s like a secret handshake for the LGBTQIA+ community, representing unity, strength, and a big ol’ middle finger against discrimination. So get ready to use it when it’s time to let your inner rebel shine!

Source: Cornell University


Violet — flower and color

The violet has been a symbol of lesbian love and desire for ages, inspired by Sappho’s poetry, as she describes a lover “wearing garlands or a crown with violets.” With its soft beauty and vibrant color, it captures the essence of femininity and romance. Plus, the color violet itself is all about spirituality, empowerment, and that fabulous lesbian pride!

Perfume violets, Viola, odorata, blossom

Source: Gardeners World


White Lily 

White lilies are the real deal in Japan, Korea, and China regarding yuri, a.k.a. girl love! In Japanese literature, these beauties have symbolized beauty in women since the Romantic era. It evolved when Yurizoku, which means “lily tribe, was coined in 1976 by Ito Bungaku, who wanted to attract female readers to his gay magazine.

In short, Yuri = Lily = Girl Love, so using white lilies as a lesbian symbol is basically a pun!

Source: AZ Animals


Pinky rings

This accessory has caught the attention of some prominent sapphics. We’re talking about icons like Sarah Paulson, Fran Leibowitz, and even some legendary queer icons like Murray Hill and Oscar Wilde. 

But wait, it gets even better. This trend goes way back, darlin’. We’re talking all the way from the 1940s to the 1960s. The pinky ring has been a beloved accessory for gay folks, especially wlw, long before it became a hot topic, and it was used to denote one’s sexuality without raising eyebrows.

Source: Pexels


Cats

We could call this an unofficial symbol, but it’s so ingrained in our culture that we might just plaster a cat shape on the lesbian flag. 

Now, I’m sure you’ve heard the stereotypes, like how lesbians supposedly have an abundance of furry feline companions. Cats are independent, mysterious, and sometimes even aloof creatures, and who better to represent fierce, independent women?

To top it all off, lesbians have reclaimed the word “pussy” as a playful and empowering term, or simply to express how much they love it!  So cats definitely enter the category of lesbian symbolism in our eyes.

Source: iStock

Other symbols air on a more controversial side, like the Labrys, a double-headed axe used in the Lesbian Feminist movement, known to be exclusionary and transphobic, and as well all know, TERFs can get lost! Out the door, you go. 


Lesbian texting 101

In this digital age, it’s important to define how we communicate and take advantage of awesome tools like emoji, gifs, and memes to express who we are and how we feel! So, let’s spill the tea on the top symbols lesbians use to express themselves in the world of texting and social media-ing, for instance:

Source: Pexels

  • Scissor emojis ✂️


Scissors emoji

Yep, you heard it right—we’ve got an emoji for that! The scissors emoji has become a playful and cheeky symbol of lesbian sexual intimacy. It’s like a cute little nod to the act of scissoring, a sexual practice often associated with sapphic love. So, snip, snip, babe!


Girl-kissing-girl emoji

If you’re in the mood for some romantic vibes, the girl-kissing-girl emoji is where it’s at! This little smooch sends a clear message of love, attraction, and affection between women. It’s the perfect way to show your sapphic desires or express support for those fabulous lesbian relationships. Mwah!


Lesbian flag with color-coded emojis

Oh, baby, we’ve got a whole flag representing lesbian pride, and it’s time to wave it high and proud! The lesbian flag features horizontal stripes in shades of orange, white, pink, and dark, purple-ish pinks, symbolizing all womanly love. And you know what’s even better? You can incorporate corresponding emojis in your texts to match those vibrant flag colors. These are for the more low-key crowd who want the right people to know. Think orange or pink hearts, animals, and objects—all the emojis to show your love for women and embrace your lesbian identity!

Source: TikTok


Why lesbian symbols are important

Now that we’ve spilled the tea on these amazing lesbian symbols, you might be wondering, why do they even matter? Well, let us break it down for you:

  • Visibility and Representation: They’re like big neon signs saying, “Hey, we’re here and fabulous!” Great tools to foster community building and putting a spotlight on you.
  • Empowerment and Pride: It’s a confident statement, showing the world that you’re proud of who you are and embracing your inner fierce queen.
  • Communication and Connection: It’s like a secret code only you understand. Whether it’s a tattoo, emoji, or flag, they can help you create meaningful connections with other lesbians.
  • Historical and Cultural Significance: Embracing symbols is a way of honoring our LGBTQ+ predecessors, who fought for our rights and paved the way for the love we all celebrate today.
  • Pop Culture Coolness: Incorporating symbols into your texts, social media posts, and fashion choices isn’t just cool af—it’s a great way to raise visibility and awareness.

Here’s the deal, my fellow sapphic munchkins: those symbols are your secret weapons to express yourself, flaunt your pride, and find your people. Whether it’s rocking an interlocking Venus tattoo, sporting a pinky ring like a gay fashion icon, or sliding in some steamy emojis in the DMs, these symbols are a great way to wear your lesbian pride.

And remember, symbols are a personal choice. Find the ones that speak to your heart and make you feel like the badass queer warrior you truly are. And as you rock them, know that you’re part of a global community that celebrates the amazing way you love.

Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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