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This page discusses persecution and death perpetrated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. A symbol used to mark prisoners appears multiple times throughout the article. Reader discretion is advised.

Reclaimed as a positive symbol, the pink triangle now points upward.

The pink triangle has been a symbol for various LGBTQIA+ identities. Initially used as a badge of shame for "gay men" in the Nazi Germany of the 1930s and 40s,[1][2] it was revived in the 70s and 80s as a symbol of protest against homophobia and ever since reclaimed as a positive symbol of self-identity and pride by the larger LGBTQIA+ community.[1]

History

Nazi symbol

Nazi Germany used a downward-pointing pink triangle to identify gay men.

Before the use of the pink triangle, gay male prisoners in Nazi concentration camps were marked by a variety of symbols: a green triangle to identify gay criminals; a red triangle for gay political prisoners; the number "175" was used in reference to Paragraph 175 of the German penal code, which criminalized homosexual activity; or the letter "A", which stood for Arschficker and literally translates as "arse fucker".[3][4]

Afterward, the concentration camps started to require each prisoner to wear a downward-pointing, equilateral triangular cloth badge on their chest, the color of which identified the reason for their imprisonment.[5][6] The triangle was pink for anyone who was a gay man, bisexual man, or transgender woman, as well as a "sexual deviant", including zoophiles and pedophiles in addition to sex offenders. Those assigned a pink triangle were considered to be at the very bottom of the camp hierarchy.[1] Lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men were not systematically imprisoned, though when they were, some were classified as "asocial" and forced to wear a black triangle.[7]

Gay rights symbol

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Reclaimed as a positive symbol, the pink triangle now points upward.

In the 1980s, the symbol was reclaimed by members of the LGBTQIA+ community and took on a more militant tone.[8] The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, formed by six gay activists in New York City in 1987, adopted an upward-pointing pink triangle on a black field along with the slogan "SILENCE = DEATH" as its logo.[1][9]

Monuments and memorials

The pink triangle has become a common symbol used in monuments commemorating the victims of anti-gay violence and those who died in the HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as gay victims of the Holocaust. The first country to do so was the Netherlands, opening the Homomonument on September 5, 1987.[10][11]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Waxman, Olivia B.: "How the Nazi Regime's Pink Triangle Symbol Was Repurposed for LGBTQ Pride" (2018-05-31). https://time.com. Time. (Archived on December 16, 2021).
  2. Biedroń, Robert: "Nazism's Pink Hell". https://auschwitz.com. Memorial and museum - Auschwitz-Birkenau. (Archived on November 6, 2021).
  3. "Homosexuals in Nazi Germany". https://collections.ushmm.org. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
  4. "Lesbians Under the Nazi Regime". https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
  5. "Homosexual Prisoners - The Era of the Holocaust". https://libapp.shadygrove.umd.edu. The Universities at Shady Grove. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
  6. Weber, Christiane: "Overview of inmate identification badges" (2018-07-31). https://arolsen-archives.org. Arolsen Archives. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
  7. Darling, Laura: "Queer Women and AFAB People During the Holocaust" (2016-04-22). https://www.makingqueerhistory.com. Making Queer History. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
  8. Summers, Claude J.: "The Pink Triangle" (2016-04-22). https://www.glbtq.com. Making Queer History. (Archived on October 25, 2014).
  9. "SILENCE = DEATH". https://www.actupny.org. Encyclopedia of AIDS. (Archived on September 7, 2009).
  10. Dunford, Martin. The Rough Guide to The Netherlands. Penguin, 2010. ISBN 9781848368828.
  11. "Homomonument - Geschiedenis". homomonument.nl. (Archived on January 12, 2022).
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