UPDATE! City staff revised Attachment A in Agenda Item 5.B. to clarify that city council will discuss the recommendation to replace one of the two lambda rainbow flags with a progress flag at each of the four locations on the Santa Monica Boulevard median, and not replace all the rainbow flags with the progress flag as previously reported. The four locations will display an American Flag, a lambda rainbow flag and a progress flag year-round on Route 66. Also up for discussion is the hanging of a progress flag at City Hall during pride month instead of the annual rainbow pride flag. The discussion will take place at the next regular city council meeting on Monday, April 18, 2022, starting at 6 p.m.
A previous Staff report stated that all rainbow flags would be replaced with the progress rainbow flag on Santa Monica Boulevard, angering several community members who feel removing the lambda pride flags will also remove a large part of West Hollywood’s LGBT history.
The revised resolution posted today, April 15, 2022, amends the uniform policy for the outdoor public display of governmental and non-governmental flags on Santa Monica Boulevard’s Center Medians (4): Permanently displayed flags: one Lambda Flag, one Progress Flag, and one United States Flag on individual poles displayed at each median location.”
Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne told WEHO TIMES that the progress flag represents where we are today, it is our future, however, the City of West Hollywood also want’s to acknowledge the city’s LGBT past and keep highlighting its history by keeping the the Lambda rainbow flag at medians all year round.
In 1970, graphic designer Tom Doerr selected the lower-case Greek letter lambda (λ) to be the symbol of the New York chapter of the Gay Activists Alliance. The alliance’s literature states that Doerr chose the symbol specifically for its denotative meaning in the context of chemistry and physics: “a complete exchange of energy–that moment or span of time witness to absolute activity”.
The lambda became associated with Gay Liberation, and in December 1974, it was officially declared the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights by the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. The gay rights organization Lambda Legal and the American Lambda Literary Foundation derive their names from this symbol.
The Progress Flag was created by artist Daniel Quasar as a combination and reimaging of the original multi-colored Rainbow Flag created by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 in San Francisco and the Transgender Pride Flag designed by transgender activist Monica Helms in 1999. The Progress Flag’s black and brown stripes represent marginalized LBGT communities of color, community members lost to HIV/AIDS, and those currently living with HIV/AIDS. Quasar reshaped the new flag colors into a chevron to represent a need for forward movement. Quasar wanted to, “shift focus and emphasis to what is important in our current community climate.” Specifically, to draw attention to the need to center and support Black and Brown queer and trans people, as well as those living with HIV/AIDS.