This is the first in a series where we interview Pride flag creators. This interview was conducted August 14-16 2018 over email.
MM: Can you give your name (or part of it) for the history books?
Evie: I believe at this stage I’m happy to go on-record with my real name, so I’m happy to be credited as Evie Varney.
MM: Can you give any part of the country, province, or city you live in to give us an idea of where creators come from?
Evie: England, UK
MM: What are your pronouns?
MM: How do you fully identify? (Or parts if that’s too much)
Evie: As a queer cis woman.
MM: Are there any other facets of your identity you want known?
Evie: My identity and the terms I use for it change depending on context and mood, and various terms have been useful – queer, sapphic, pansexual, bisexual, gay.
MM: What led you to want to create a pan flag?
Evie: Back in 2010 the term “pansexual” gained some popularity in online LGBTQ scenes, especially tumblr and and younger-skewing groups. It was by no means a new term, but for the most part attraction to multiple genders was considered encompassed by “bisexual”. Bisexuality is at it’s best inclusive of trans and non-binary people, but at the time, and in the scenes and communities I had access too, the working definition often did exclude transgender people from bisexuality’s attraction parametres or draw special distinction between cis and trans people, and it made bisexuality feel like a term that didn’t work for me personally anymore.
MM: How does it feel knowing you created one of the most well known and visible Pride flags? (It was very popular at our Pride last Saturday.)
Evie: It feels incredible. The first Pride I went to a few years ago where there were pansexual flags on display made me very emotional. A limited number of my offline friends know that I created the flag design, so them saying when they see the flag in offline spaces they think of me and are proud makes me so happy.
MM: Well done on the colors, by the way. It’s one of the most fun flags to make for that reason and I always get comments on them from people who don’t know what the flag even means.
Evie: Most of my motivation for the flag was making something aesthetically pleasing – before the flag, the only pansexuality symbols in use were variants on the letter P, often combined with gender symbols, which didn’t feel like a flag does. The rainbow flag is such a significant part of LGBTQ history that I think it’s completely understandable that communities and identities would want to see their own.
MM: Did you expect to take off so tremendously and quickly?
Evie: Yes and no – at the time, the pansexual scene on tumblr was quite active – mostly, admittedly, through getting into what would later become popularly known as “discourse”. It was about stuff like the material differences between bisexuality and pansexuality (especially as the community began to encounter bisexual communities and definitions that actively opposed trans-exclusion), about the problems with the ideas of “not seeing gender” and genital-related focus of slogans(such as “attracted to what’s in someone’s heart, not their pants”). But I didn’t think it would go beyond the realms of tumblr, frankly. I remember early after the flag’s creation someone attempted to add it to the pansexuality page on Wikipedia, and it was removed multiple times.
MM: Has creating this flag been an overall positive experience? Negative? Mixed bag? What were you really not expecting, or what lived up to you expectations (or hopes)?
Evie: I would say that it is an overwhelmingly positive experience.
MM: Before 2010, the only Pride flags with the LGBT Rainbow (1978), Bisexual (1998), and Transgender (1999) flags, all released at Pride festivals. 2010 saw the introduction of the Asexual, Lipstick Lesbian, and Pansexual flags, all online. Since then, only the Philadelphia City Hall Pride flag has been released at a Pride celebration, and the rest online (mostly on Tumblr). How do you feel online communities have shaped queer discourse?
Evie: I think online communities have had a tremendous impact on queer discourse and community generally. Online spaces allow a fostering of community between people who would never be able to meet, or would no be likely to share a community offline – mixes of ages, locations. This creates unique communities, it’s own difficulties, and I think it is an inescapable facet of our community experience given the significance of the interest and it’s role in so many people’s social lives.
MM: Do you have any advise for other activists, especially young activists, who are looking to create new flags?
Evie: Be aware that you can’t force people to adopt your flag design – you might face anything from lukewarm reception to outright rejection for various reasons. Create something that feels both representative, and that you think looks good – if your hope is to have other people adopt it, it has to be something you don’t want to change a year down the line.
We hope you enjoyed this interview. Be sure to check out our index of Pride Flags and other educational resources. If you value these resources, want to help them thrive, and have some extra cash, consider checking out our shop, including our pan patchs (version 1, and version 2), or making a donation. Donations help pay for website hosting and covering our time spent working on the project.