Along with the rainbow flag, the most unmistakable symbol of LGBTQ+ visibility is the pink triangle. But while the six-color flag—originally assembled in San Francisco by activist and drag performer Gilbert Baker is a symbol of late-1970s optimism—the downward-pointing triangle’s origin is considerably darker.
Sewn by the Nazis onto the uniforms of men imprisoned for homosexuality in the concentration camps, it has since become a powerful totem of reclamation, a metaphor for strength overcoming adversity. It is, in short, an emblem for LGBTQ+ history, acknowledging dark chapters like the HIV/AIDS crisis while celebrating tremendous achievements like marriage equality.
Since 2001, dozens of volunteers have mounted massive tarps in the shape of a Pink Triangle near the summit of San Francisco’s Twin Peaks, some 200 miles across and visible from 20 miles away. For decades, the triangle was a brief installation, erected just before Pride weekend and taken down right after, and seen only during the day.
In 2020, Pink Triangle founder Patrick Carney teamed up with Illuminate SF—the artists behind the Bay Lights—to completely reimagine it. Now, it’s up for the entire month of June, consisting of a mile-and-a-half of pink streamers tethered to steel cables, plus an LED component to ensure nighttime visibility even in dense fog. In doing so, a city already famous around the world for its association with LGBTQ+ liberation has reaffirmed its commitment to welcoming all people.
Peter-Astrid Kane can be reached at [email protected]
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