All about the Sapphic Pride flag
All about the Sapphic Pride flag
Many people tend to use the terms “sapphic” and “lesbian” interchangeably. However, these two words have their own distinct meanings and, in turn, are represented by different flags.
Find out what “sapphic” means, how it differs from the term “lesbian”, and what the sapphic flag looks like in this guide.
What Does ‘Sapphic’ Mean?
The term “sapphic” is used to describe a woman or non-binary person who is attracted to women. Other terms synonymous with sapphic include “woman-loving woman” (WLW) or “girls loving girls” (GLG). Sapphic is also used as an umbrella term for lesbians, bisexual women, pansexual women, trans femme, and women-aligned non-binary persons that are attracted to women.
Sapphic people may be attracted exclusively to women (as in the case of lesbians) or attracted to other genders as well. The word is used as a unifying term that encompasses all women-aligned people who are attracted to and love other women.
The Origin Of The Term ‘Sapphic’
The term “sapphic” is derived from the Ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho, who was believed to have resided on the Isle of Lesbos. Despite being such a prolific poet (she was believed to have written over 10,000 lines of lyrics), very little of her work remains.
Though historians believe that much of her work was lost to poor preservation, some legends claim that it was deliberately destroyed by the medieval church. This is because she often depicted or made allusions to love between girls and women in her poetry. This is also why many believe that Sappho was gay.
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Sapphic vs Lesbian
Though the terms “sapphic” and “lesbian” are often thought to be synonymous, they don’t carry the same meaning. Whereas “lesbian” is a term that is used to describe homosexual women – meaning they’re only attracted to women – the term “sapphic” is used more as an umbrella term to include all types of sexualities wherein women or women-aligned people are attracted to women.
Thus, lesbians can identify as sapphic, but not all sapphics identify as lesbian.
Sapphic Pride Flag: Meaning And Symbolism
Sapphic-identifying lesbians may find the lesbian pride flag to be a good representative symbol of pride. However, non-lesbian sapphics may prefer using the sapphic pride flag, as it is more inclusive of other orientations and identities.
Let’s break down two of the most popular sapphic flags.
The Sapphic Flag
The most popular sapphic flag consists of two pink stripes at the top and bottom. This symbolizes love. The center stripe is white and contains a pair of violets in the middle. This flag can be attributed to Tumblr user lesbeux, who is credited for designing the flag in 2015.
Another sapphic flag, introduced by Tumblr user pride-color-schemesin 2017, depicts a single violet in the center, rendered in a simpler art style – making it easier to reproduce.
The Demi-Sapphic Flag
A demi-sapphic pride flag was also introduced in August 2021 by wiki user Wemrotung. Demi-sapphics are people who experience sexual attraction to women but only after forming a strong emotional bond. This sexuality is based on demisexuality, which is defined by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) as “feeling no sexual attraction towards other people unless a strong emotional bond has been established.”
The demi-sapphic consists of pink, white, light pink, and gray stripes, a black arrow pointing right, and two violets. The gray stripes and black arrow are derived from the demisexual flag and represent the ace community and gray-asexuality, respectively.
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According to the website of the University of Washington’s Botanic Gardens, Sappho “appreciated the wonders and beauty of nature” and wrote of flowers, garlands, pastures, and other natural elements in her poems.
In one poem, Sappho writes, “Many crowns of violets, roses, and crocuses…together you set before more and many scented wreaths made from blossoms around your soft throat…with pure, sweet oil…you anointed me, and on a soft, gentle bed…you quenched your desire…no holy site…we left uncovered, no grove…”
In turn, violets evolved to symbolize sapphic love and have been used to allude to love between women in modern works. One notable work is The Captive, a Broadway play written by Edouard Bourdet in 1927.
The story revolves around two lesbian characters, one of whom gifts the other with a bouquet of violets as a gesture of love. The play met public uproar due to its contents, which at the time were considered taboo. In support of Bourdet’s play, audiences would turn up to theaters wearing violets on their lapels.
violets have long been symbolic in the lesbian community: from featuring in Sappho’s poetry about her love for women, to lesbians gifting them to their lovers in the 1900s. they were also a favourite of mine as a child (synchronicity at its finest) pic.twitter.com/Mjd1fYkIsa
– George Bartlam (@georgebartlam_) July 3, 2020
The sapphic pride flag doesn’t just represent the sapphic community but also its long history of resistance in the face of homophobia and misogyny. It is a symbol not only of pride, but also of inclusion, visibility, and resilience. Sapphics can wave their pink, white, and violet-laden flag with pride knowing its rich history.