With June being the month of LGBT pride, every Thursday on #ThrowbackThursday we will be looking at various objects important to the entire community. Last week The History of Pride was looked at. This week we look at The Pink Triangle.
The history of the Pink Triangle is an interesting one. The symbol which is now used to celebrate the LGBT community, and is a symbol of pride is the second most popular gay rights symbol, with only the rainbow flag outranking it. However the history of the triangle is one that is actually shrouded in pain and suffering.
The symbol has its origin in Nazi Germany. The Nazi’s would use different symbols to categorise people in different categories. For example, Jewish people had two yellow triangles, superimposed as a star. Other badges included ones for political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, anti-social prisoners and more.
Homosexual men were forced to bear a pink badge. The badge was also used for paedophiles, zoophiles, and rapists. The Pink Triangle had to be worn pointing down.
After the camps were liberated after the end of the war, many of the men who wore this badge were imprisoned. In fact the doctrine which changed homosexuality from a minor offence to a felony by the Nazis, remained in place for another 24 years in both East and West Germany. it would take until 2002 for Germany to apologise to these victims.
The reclamation of the symbol as a gay rights symbol is believed to have occurred in the 1970s. Scholars believe that it became a gay rights symbol thanks to the publication by concentration camp survivor Heinz Heger’s memoirs The Men With the Pink Triangle.
It is now one of the most universally recognisably symbol of pride and rights of all LGBT people worldwide. It has been used to develop monuments dedicated to the suffering of these men worldwide. These include Homomonument in Amsterdam, the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial in Sydney, the Pink Triangle Park in the Castro neighbourhood of San Francisco.
It is also used for the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) adopted the symbol shortly after its inception in 1987, with the with the slogan “SILENCE = DEATH.”