The LGBT Pride flag represents a hard-fought battle for fundamental human rights. It’s reinvention as a ‘Thank You NHS Flag’ is contentious for some in the LGBT+ community.
Front and center of the COVID-19 U.K. epidemic has been Health Secretary Matt Hancock, wearing an NHS rainbow badge.
The rainbow is, of course, a universal symbol of hope and peace that has been around for thousands of years that no-one owns.
But for the last 42 years, in the particular form of a flag with six distinct colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, it has been the internationally recognised symbol of the LGBT community.
Matt Hancock’s NHS rainbow badge was, too, created to show solidarity for LGBT+ workers in the NHS.
But in the current context of a global pandemic, it is easy to forget the original purpose of the badge.
That’s because in the U.K. a wave of rainbows is on display in windows up and down the country. Like the weekly “Clap for Carers” they are a symbol of people’s solidarity with NHS and key workers.
But this act is leaving some in the LGBT+ community feeling uneasy about whether they are losing their symbol, accusing some online shops of erasure and ignorance as they sell LGBT+ pride banners rebranded as “Thank You NHS” flags.