The is the third in a series where we interview Pride flag creators. This interview was conducted 19 December 2018.
MM: gender.wikia.com has your name as JJ Poole. Is that correct, or are you able to give your name? What are your pronouns?
JJ: Yeah that’s my name. Pronouns are they/them.
MM: If you comfortable saying, where are you from (or near enough)?
JJ: I’m from New York State.
MM: Your bio says you’re Pansexual and genderqueer. Are there other facets of your identity you want known?
JJ: More specifically I am agender.
MM: What led you to create the genderfluid flag? At the time, the only existing nonbinary flag was the genderqueer flag.
JJ: I had been trying to find an identity that fit me. At the time I knew genderqueer fit me, but it still felt too broad. I found genderfluid to be fitting but was disappointed with the lack of symbolic representation. I wouldn’t call myself an artist, but I’ve dabbled with drawing and bits of Photoshop, so I decided to create it myself. And I made a couple flags actually, but this one I submitted to a blog on Tumblr about genderfluidity and gender fluid people. It had a big following at the time. And they loved it. And it took off.
What were the other flags you created?
MM: I love the colors of your flag. They’re gloriously intense. What made you settle on those tones specifically?
JJ: I just played around with the shades to what I found aesthetically pleasing. The purple in particular. I loved the shade.
MM: If you’re comfortable saying, how old were you when you created this flag?
JJ: I was about 20 at the time
MM: Apparently 20 is the exact age people make Pride flags. So were the pan flag and agender creators. I suspect that’s the age where people are young enough to still be full of hope, and old enough to understand the power of symbolism and community. Does that seem to fit your experience, or am I off base?
JJ: And yeah, I’d say that would be accurate.
MM: I saw a lot of genderfluid flags at Pride this year (and bought one). I’ve gotten to see art of one of my favorite characters draped in it. How does it feel knowing your design took off?
JJ: It’s crazy, I’ve seen by just googling the flag, the designs and art are endless. even when I’ve been to comic conventions, I’ve seen it in the artist alleys making scarves and pins and all sorts of things.
MM: Did any other flags influence you?
JJ: I think I was influenced by all of them, most flags were stripes and different colors with meanings attached, I loved the gay pride, bi, pan and genderqueer flags.
MM: Has creating this flag been an overall positive experience? Negative? Mixed bag? What were you really not expecting, or what lived up to your expectations (or hopes)? Did you expect or hope this strong of a response?
JJ: I never expected it to become popular, let alone almost officially accepted.
MM: Before 2009, the only Pride flags with the LGBT Rainbow (1978), Bisexual (1998), Labrys Lesbian (1999), and Transgender (1999) flags, all released at Pride festivals. 2009 saw the introduction of the Natalie Phox Intersex flag on Wikimedia Commons. 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?
JJ: Online communities have connected people who would otherwise be minorities in their own local communities. Its validating to people trying to discover themselves to be able to look online and find others who feel the same as they do.
MM: I got hold of you just before Tumblr’s new Community Guidelines take effect on Dec. 17, 2018. The new guidelines ban adult content on Tumblr. The genderfluidity blog was marked as adult content, and as of 2018-12-19 when I’m writing up these questions, it’s no longer available. What effect do you think these rules will have on the queer communities of Tumblr?
JJ: I wasn’t aware it was flagging that sort of stuff, I haven’t actually used Tumblr in a while, but I can imagine the negative effect of essentially censoring entire communities as explicit.
MM: Do you have any advice for other activists, especially young activists, who are looking to create new flags?
JJ: I’d say just go for it. make something you’re proud of and share it with others. but I think luck has a lot to do with it.
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