Where did this “gray-asexual flag” come from?

Let me walk you through this series of events: I visited Rowan’s and Queenie’s blog and saw these two posts within a short timeframe of each other, so I thought, oh, looks like Redbeard’s been making graphics, I wonder what else he’s uploaded lately. Turns out: animated flags. Flags which I mostly recognized, except for… one, labeled as a “gray-asexual flag.”


For your convenience, I’ll skip over the “I thought gray-aces already had a flag” reaction and jump straight to these other parts:

1) Who made this design? Where did it come from? To be honest, this is the second time I’ve encountered it, but that first time it was on a blog that had millions of flag designs (compared to this set of 14 or so). …Has it proliferated? What’s the origin story? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

2) I am, honestly, conflicted over what to make of this. I don’t want to say that gray-aces can’t or shouldn’t make our own symbols for ourselves to represent gray-asexuality specifically… It’s not a generic “that’s too many/that’s too far” complaint you’re seeing here. What I am telling you is that it does make me a little uneasy to see someone(?) has designated us a separate flag (to represent all gray-aces when how many had a say in this?), when for me it’s still fresh in my mind the fights people would have about whether gray-asexuals belong in the “asexual community” per se. That mentality isn’t even dead, either. So a part of me still recognizes that the inherent relationship between gray-asexuality and asexuality is something I have to deliberately stake a claim for. I like the asexual community flag and I consider myself a member of that community for a deliberate reason. I never asked for a separate flag when the broader flag already includes me. And while a designated focus on gray-asexuality is fine (me & a couple others have a designated gray-ace IM chat, in fact), if there’s an entire self-contained and separate gray-asexual community forming that’s not completely enmeshed in and intertwined with the asexual community, it’s escaped my radar.

Also, what was the process on this?

For reference (and comparison), the original asexual community flag was developed on a thread on AVEN, with a poll and many participants, and the most recent discussion I’ve seen on that history is here in this post, where one of those original participants writes:

Anyway, of the designs invoked, that black/grey/white gradient was an incredibly common motif, with or without that gradient triangle. But the grey had to be between black and white in order to be properly inclusive of people whose experiences and identities were complicated and hard to define–that was maybe the one consensus I saw, and the only flags I can remember that didn’t adhere to that basic idea were the ones that centered around black rings. Otherwise it would have felt like leaving grey-As out of the community, not acknowledging fluidity, and I suspect would have left many people in the ace community of 2010 feeling as if the exclusionists* had won.

*In context, what “exclusionists” is referring to is clearly the people who didn’t want gray-asexuals in the ace community.

So not only does the gray stripe in the asexual flag already represent gray-asexuality, but, from how I understand it, that element in the design was a deliberate and debated choice and rhetorical move to acknowledge ambiguity in the community. I’m not saying that creating a separate gray-asexual-specific flag is kicking us out of the older flag, but it does feel a little bit like it’s undermining the purpose of that move. And also it does feel a little bit like kicking us out of the flag.

I think there’s a possibility that I could think differently, under different circumstances. What I’m trying to describe, here, is these circumstances: circumstances where I don’t know who or how or how many took it upon themselves to create this second flag, and where my relationship to the asexual flag and the asexual community is both more important to me and more bitterly contested than my relationship to just gray-asexuals alone cordoned off by ourselves.

As I ponder about how to explain this frustration, it occurs to me that a factor in play here may be a divergence of perspective in what community/identity flags and symbols are for. But I also don’t want to speculate too much about this second flag’s origins and the motives behind it — especially because I don’t even know those origins to begin with.

So, yes, if you have the link, or a screenshot, or you know who took it upon themselves to designate this design, please let me know. Drop that information in the comment section, if you can. I’d appreciate it.

And even if I can get that question answered, that’s not the end of the unease and confusion for me.

7 responses to “Where did this “gray-asexual flag” come from?

  • Vesper

    *scratches their head*

    that flag and its design are nothing new….? i first came across this flag was in May 2014 here: https://bit.ly/2kvCQ5r and i’m fairly certain that it was proposed on Tumblr sometime in 2014 at the same time and by the same person as the demisexual flag, but i can’t seem to find that thread of posts at the moment. either way, by October 2014 the gray asexual flag flag (and later the demisexual flag) became the basis for the proposed gray aromantic (and demiromantic) flag(s).

    to the best of my knowledge / memory, separatism from the ‘greater’ ace community was not at all what the person had in mind when they designed and proposed the flag for themself and for other gray aces / demis to use, but yeah… it does, in a way, undermine the feelings / effort / thought that went into the design of the ace flag, unfortunately. at the same time, i understand why people would want a flag specifically for gray and demi orientations as i imagine that it’s not dissimilar from how non-binary people often want a flag for their specific gender not instead of, but rather in addition to the non-binary flag.

    at this point, i feel like it’s safe to say that none of these flags are even “proposed” flags anymore, but rather The Flags that people use when they want to highlight their gray / demi pride specifically. having said that, many people do still use the asexual (and aromantic) flag(s) more often than not– presumably because it’s more easily (but still not really even “easily”) found and recognizable symbol for aces in general… i don’t feel confident attributing the fact that the majority of people default to the ace flag to actual awareness of the symbolism of the stripes / colors and that it was designed to be inclusive of them from the start.

    either way, the fact that you’ve only just now encountered this flag for the second time surprises me, to be honest, but i guess that’s because i’ve been active in the Tumblr-verse enough over the last several years to have encountered it a lot. even so, i’ve also encountered it outside of Tumblr, on pride merch on etsy, for example, even here in Japan because the Japanese ace community really do import everything they find online from The West.

  • Siggy

    I don’t think having a flag for a specific group of people really means that this specific group is not also covered by a flag for a more general group of people. Case in point, the ace flag doesn’t mean that aces aren’t included in the rainbow flag. The bear flag doesn’t mean bears aren’t included in the rainbow flag. The demisexual flag doesn’t mean that demisexuals aren’t included in the ace flag. So on and so forth.

    However, it does seem that flags proliferate the most when they’re covering a group that feels they’re getting insufficient attention under other banners. e.g. of all the extra flags created in ace communities, the aro flag has been the most successful. The fact that the gray-A flag has been around for a while, but not proliferated at all, maybe indicates that gray-As mostly don’t need it.

    I’m not really a fan of creating flags for every little thing, but I suppose that’s the same as how I’m not really a fan of labeling every little thing. I guess it’s fine if other people are into that. And if you’re creating a bunch of animated flags, why not have flags for everyone who wants one.

  • Blue Ice-Tea

    Yeah, I hadn’t seen that flag before either. But then, I’m not really up to speed on most flags. I didn’t even know there was an ace flag until it had already been in use for a while!

  • Chrysocolla Town

    The DeviantArt account Pride-Flags says it was designed by Auriga La Fresne and links to this page. Apparently this person really likes making flags, and here’s what they say about grace one:

    “The idea here was that it was supposed to be symbolic of someone starting out with no sexual attraction, then entering a single episode of it, an exception to asexuality, and then going back to being asexual. I created this flag and uploaded it to Wikimedia Commons on June 21, 2013, under the title “Grey-A flag proposal”. It was deleted shortly after, but it appears that it was picked up by Zazzle or a similar site as a product design before it was deleted, and so it survived until two posts on the Tumblr blog Pride Flags For Us featured it (post one, post two—dead links until I can find archives). I actually intended to just ignore the flag, which is why I never went out of my way to claim it when it got popular. But I figured I don’t want anyone else taking the credit, and I also feel like some people would be interested in knowing how it was created, so here it is.”

    • Coyote

      Huh. Thanks for digging that up!

      Not a fan of this part though:

      “The idea here was that it was supposed to be symbolic of someone starting out with no sexual attraction, then entering a single episode of it, an exception to asexuality, and then going back to being asexual.”

      Not how I like people to explain gray-asexuality as a whole. :/

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