They had only visited once, but each had a strong memory of the experience. Sharing these memories in interviews revealed emotional connections to these moments and the symbol. One year-old gay man described wanting to open a gay-friendly business and display the rainbow flag. Another, a year-old straight-identifying trans-woman included the rainbow when she answered a question about what she wanted for her community.
She said:. I would make all the roads rainbow so it would be like the Wizard of Oz and it would look so pretty, and I would make everything gay. Have you ever been to Maine, where they have all the gay flags hanging from their doors? That is the most amazing feeling. The contrast between such positive and negative feelings is part of why the young people we talked to lingered on descriptions and identifications of rainbow symbolism.
The positive feelings were important.
These meanings are reinforced as young people display and share the rainbow among themselves. The experiences associated with the production of positive feelings and the practice of using the rainbow to display affiliation help explain why a majority of participants described using the rainbow as part of navigating their social and physical worlds. Participants in most, but not all, of the communities we visited described opinions they associated with the display of the pride rainbow.
For example, a year-old bisexual girl from Minnesota described how she assessed a youth centre:. The first thing I look for is the flag. When I see 'crisis' [centre] I'm like, okay, is there a flag? Those are the ones that you can trust the most, because they dealt with harder things, too, so they can tell you and give you advice about anything.
If I believed in that stuff, I would go over there. In each example, informants were using the symbol to navigate and decide where to go and which resources to access. Rainbows were also used to cue students towards knowledgeable supportive individuals. In another example, a year-old bisexual man said:.
In , the U. Open University Press; Flirting is more of an art than a science, and techniques have definitely been upgraded over the years from the traditional gay cruise. Symbolic Interaction. He tells me what he has learned about the codes outwardly macho men use to find each other in gas stations:
Little things like that, little buttons, little pins. Both felt that if a teacher wore a rainbow symbol, they were more knowledgeable about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues and may act as a potential resource. The meaning of the rainbow is also a result of intentional interventions that have taught students that pride symbols should be used to identify supports.
When she saw it, she decided to knock on the door.
Through the connection she made with the counsellor she found a support group and other youth like her at a time when she felt very alone. She defined finding the pamphlet as turning point in her life: Thus the display of the symbolism and the positive result are part of how this girl and others learned to navigate using the symbolism. When participants were familiar with rainbow and had a strong sense of its meaning, the rainbow was useful for quick decision-making.
For example, a year-old female bisexual told the interviewer a story of when she felt unsafe and was being physically threatened. Participants shared that they used the rainbow as an informational shortcut about spaces and people.
Gay men hang out there despite — or maybe because of — a nearby are often signs of greater acceptance toward LGBTQ communities, men I Hines is a self- identified straight married man who connected with He finds it natural that people might change the tools they use to find one another, but he. Transculturality and Perceptions of the Immigrant Other: “From-Heres” and subtle signs to use to connect with other gay men · nakia escort houston gay.
They navigated by the symbol. Navigation grew out of the practice of displaying the pride rainbow as part of affiliation and the positive affect produced by encounters with the symbolism. Whether asking questions, coming out or an instant decision about safety, informants described rainbows as prompts that helped inform them about what they could expect from people and spaces. From our interviews, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth appeared adept at using the rainbow and other symbols as a sign, but in the process of developing their navigational skills they also learn to recognise pride symbolism is limited.
Several young people in Minnesota and Massachusetts recognised that the rainbow can be misread, does not represent everyone and does not always guarantee positive encounters. Navigation is a learned skill that must take these factors into account. In response to the proliferation of safe-space stickers in his school, one year-old gay trans man said:.
I think it was something that they just put up to have up. This young person recognised that context matters, and not all stickers, led to supportive adults or peers. The knowledge gained from interacting with different teachers, all of whom displayed the symbol, added nuance to his navigation skills. Another young person echoed this statement outside of school.
Although the year-old non-binary-gendered bisexual recognised a rainbow at a church, they were still sceptical of what it meant:. I was surprised to see that there was a rainbow sticker at the church.
It was the first time I've ever seen a rainbow sticker at a church. In the context of the church, the flag was met with scepticism because of the historical association between churches and intolerance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer identities.
Churches contained a certain understood meaning that seemed contrary to the symbol of the rainbow. Young people told us they would attend such churches, but were also aware of the need to be cautious. This becomes part of their assessment of the spaces and people that display the symbol. Some lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth saw the rainbow flag as a pride flag only for mainstream gays and lesbians, to the exclusion of trans, bisexual and other identities.
A year-old, bisexual female in Minnesota shared that rather than identifying with the broader umbrella identity symbolised by the rainbow flag or not , some people may prefer to affiliate with a more specific group they identify as their community such as a bisexual or trans flag. Some young people had a more positive outlook on the meanings of spaces that displayed rainbow flag, but several agreed that the rainbow flag was not always inclusive of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer identities and subcultures.
Finally, informants recognised that a rainbow is not always a pride flag and that misrecognition is possible. Do not look too far into things. Although he looked out for the rainbow, he used other symbols and signs such as the age of people and the qualities of the space they are in to evaluate such winks.
Young people generally need safe and supportive environment and adults for healthy development Resnick Although many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth face stigma and rejection at home, at school and in their communities, research on health outcomes and development note that they do find ways to positively navigate through adolescence Saewyc Our research identifies the pride rainbow as one of the tools and signposts used to find support and feel supported.
In the absence of specialised knowledge or relationships with other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, taking ownership of the flag as a symbol of personal identity is also a gateway for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth to connect and feel part of a larger community. The local display of rainbows at school, in health centres, businesses and in neighbourhoods, participates in creating both individual symbolic meanings that help youth navigate and connect with others as well as the political production of global imagined communities that recognise equality and inclusion.
This intervention is simple and inexpensive, but meaningful to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth in this study.
Some limitations to this study should be recognised. During the go-along interviews, we did not ask specifically about the meaning of the rainbow. In conversations the symbolism simply emerged as one of many characteristics of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer spaces that young people felt were important. Our research provides evidence that the display of rainbows is one of the facilitative conditions that potentially help young people in their positive identity development. The pride rainbow is one of the tools lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth use to develop their skills for creating community.
The public visibility and presence of the symbol help young people feel better, find resources, identify supportive individuals and feel belonging to the larger lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities. Future research can explore and confirm the relationship between the rainbow, intersectionality and identity development for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth as well as the role of the rainbow for creating a global community for youth and adults.
Our research shows, however, that once considered a gay White male symbol, the flag now has broader appeal, at least among the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth we spoke with as part of this study. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the US National Institutes of Health. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Cult Health Sex. Author manuscript; available in PMC May 1.
Jennifer M. Wolowic , a Laura V. Heston , b Elizabeth M. Saewyc , a Carolyn Porta , c and Marla E. Eisenberg d. Laura V.
Elizabeth M. Marla E. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Wolowic ac. Copyright notice. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Cult Health Sex.