The Origins of the Pink Triangle as a Symbol of LGBTQ+ Pride

The Origins of the Pink Triangle as a Symbol of LGBTQ+ Pride

In honor of Pride month, it’s time to break down some history behind the pink triangle that is often seen as a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride. 

The Pink Triangle and the Holocaust

The origins of the pink triangle date back to the early 20th century during the Holocaust. Among the 11 million people who were taken and killed by Nazis, some were forced to wear upside-down pink triangle patches as an indicator that they were labeled as gay by Nazi soldiers whether they were Jewish or not. Prisoners with the pink triangle were treated as the lowest of the low in concentration camps. It is said that they served the most brutal experience. Many had to endure testicular torture, conversion therapy, medical experiments, segregation, and more. They were even labelled as “doll boys” by Nazi soldiers.

pink triangle significance holocaust lgbtq+ pride

The triangle was known as the “die Rosa-Winkel” and it remains a solid part of LGBTQ+ history.

Awareness of the prisoners who had to wear these triangles during the Holocaust came to light in the 1970s, when the gay liberation movement was at large after the Stonewall riots in America. 

Pink Triangle & LGBTQ+ Pride

pink triangle history lgbtq pride

Gay-rights activists wore the triangle as a form of protest and reclamation of a symbol that was used to discriminate against people of the LGBTQ+ community. It became a symbol to fight against the stigma of HIV and AIDS in the late 1970s, which was a time when public discussions of putting gay men into camps and having the triangle tattooed on them to warn potential partners circled around at rapid rates.

Today, the die Rosa-Winkel is worn at Pride events to represent the same mission of the activists from the 70s: reclamation of a symbol that was once harmful to the queer community.

gold diamond triangle lgbtq necklace

At M. Martin & Co., we too reclaim the pink triangle as a symbol of empowerment for the LGBTQ+ community and we design for all.

Article written by Elana Cattledge