top of page
  • Writer's pictureLeoOtherland


Three years ago, I was asked to be a part of a small zine and help them create a queer code booklet, detailing some of the ways the LGBTQIA+ community used codes to communicate throughout the ages. One of the most vibrant things I remember from this project was the notion of flowers and how they have played a part in queer lives through our history.

Flower Language, or Fluorography, is a way of communicating hidden meanings with flowers and their varied colors, and the LGBTQIA+ community has taken advantage of this passionate language. Dating as far back as the 6th century with the Greek poet Saphho from the isle of Lesbos, whose writing often spoke of the love between women and described them wearing garlands and tiaras of flowers. Most notably violets, which have remained a symbol of lesbian love.

In 1892, at the opening of “Lady Windmere’s Fan,” Irish author Oscar Wilde asked several of his friends to wear green carnations on their lapels. Though he is noted to have said the flower meant, “Nothing whatever, but that is just what nobody will guess,” it has been theorized Wilde intended the wearing of an “unnatural” green flower as way of mocking the idea the love between two men was also seen as unnatural.

In the 1920-1930s the Pansy Craze began and surged in popularity in Los Angeles, New York, and other major cities. These underground drag balls, whose participants were called “Pansy Performers,” helped spark a legacy of gay nightlife and persisted until socio-political movements, like Nazism, sent the craze further underground. Whether or not this movement was what set off the derogatory term “pansy” being aimed at gay men, the flower, and term, has been reclaimed and remains a symbol for the community.

Lavender has been an as deeply rooted color and flower association for the LGBTQIA+ community as the violet. Ranging from the poetry of Sappho on that Greek isle, to 20th century Paris and the lesbians and poets, like Renée Vivien, who studied Sappho’s poetry, to the Lavender Menace of 1970’s New York, to the first Lavender Graduation held in 1995. If there is a color that can rival the rainbow flag as a symbol of the community, lavender would be it.

Though, of all the colors and flowers that have become near and dear to my heart, it is roses that hold the deepest meaning. “Give us our roses while we’re still here,” is a rallying cry for Trans Day of Remembrance every November. A fact I did not know when I sat to write my November 2023 blog post and asked my readers to, “Remember us while we’re alive.”

We of the LGBTQIA+ community are your family, your friends, your coworkers, your acquaintances. We are the people you see on the street, smiling at those we love, the people you run into at the store, shopping for food, the healthcare workers you rely on when you go to the hospital. We are simple human beings, indistinguishable from any other. And we simply want to live.

Flowers and colors hold deep and varied meanings. On this, the final day of Pride 2024, I invite you to remember the meanings they have carried throughout queer history, and to remember your loved ones in the community while we are still here. We need you.

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page