Pride and Queer Tattoo Symbols Part II

Pride and Queer Tattoo Symbols Part II

In our last postLabrys axe and pride flag, we took a look at some of the more iconic queer symbols, the pink inverted triangle and the rainbow, and how they came to be adopted, and tattooed, by the LGBTQIA+ community. Today, as June and Pride continue, we move on to a few more significant pieces that many have adorned their skin with, either as a gesture of (using a slightly less parental-advisory phrase) ‘get lost’ to a society that has questioned their way of living. Or, as a symbol of pride for everything those who identify as anything other than heterosexual cisgendered people have, and still have to, overcome. 

Nautical star and the Labrys

In the late 1940s and 1950s, lesbians began adopting tattoos of the nautical star to quietly make their sexual orientation recognisable amongst themselves. Long favoured by sailors and seafarers as a symbol of protection, guidance, and finding their way back home, it became a way for like-minded women to find each other during a time when same-sex relationships were still criminalised in much of the Western world. The tattoos were small, and most often they sat on the inside of the wrist, so that they could easily covered by a watch when needed. 

Another tattoo often favoured by women who identify as queer and feminist is the dual-bladed battle axe, or the Labrys. Used as the weapon of choice by badass women throughout mythology and history such as early Minoan matriarchal cultures and the Amazons, it symbolised the authority of female goddesses. It was also often used by priestesses for religious sacrifices. 

equal sign tattoo

Lambda and equality

Another LGBTQIA+ symbol that many choose for their tattoo is also related to Greece. In the wake of the Stonewall Riots in the 1970s, the Gay Activist Alliance chose the Greek letter Lambda – Λ or λ – as a logo for the gay rights campaign. The letter itself is formed out of scales, thus representing balance. To the ancient Spartans, it meant unity. 

In physics, the symbol stands for wavelengths. In astrophysics, it represents the likelihood that a small body will encounter a planet or a dwarf planet leading to a diversion of a significant magnitude. All in all, the letter has come to symbolize energy and change, making it the perfect representation of the fight for equal rights regardless of sexual orientation. 

Another symbol marking the struggle for equality is, fittingly enough, the equal sign. It is the symbol of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) which is the largest LGTBQ advocacy group in the United States. Its official logo was adopted in 1995 and consists of a yellow equal sign on a blue background. A red version of the logo was promoted in 2013 to show support for marriage equality. It was a huge social media campaign success, and made the symbol recognisable to many people beyond the borders of the US. 


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