Every year, as summer beckons, Pride month arrives in a burst of colour. Around the world, rainbow flags fly high and revellers turn their faces proudly towards the sky.

The multicoloured flag has united the LGBTQ community for over 40 years, and though it remains a universal symbol of pride, liberation didn’t always come in vibrant technicolor.

In fact lavender — a subtle hue that shifts between light pinkish purples, and gray and blueish tones — has had, despite its whimsical nature, its own historical significance in representing resistance and power.

The making of a colour trend

Like many aspects of queer culture, it’s not surprising that lavender’s unique colour symbolism often skirts under the radar, especially when it comes to mainstream society.

In Western culture it started life as a colour of desire, thanks to the lyric genius of 7th century BC poet Sappho, whose papyrus fragments told of her erotic predilections for younger women with “violet tiaras.” Fast forward a few centuries, and in the 1920s, violets were still drawing together members of the lesbian community, who gifted the delicate flowers as an expression of sapphic interest.

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