Last modified: 2015-06-13 by randy young
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The flag is composed of nine horizontal stripes of equal
width. From the top and from the bottom, the stripes alternate
black and royal blue. The central stripe is white. In the upper
left quadrant of the flag is a large red heart. I will leave it
to the viewer to interpret the colors and
Chris Zimmerman, 14 Oct 2000,
quoting from [dbl89]
The Leather Pride Flag is a symbol for the leather community, which
encompasses those who are into leather, Levi’s, sado-masochism,
bondage and domination, uniform, cowboys, rubber, and other fetishes.
The flag was created by artist Tony DeBlase and first displayed on May 28,
1989, at the Mr. Leather contest in Chicago. Although the flag is often
common in the gay community, it is not a gay-only symbol.
Marcus Schmöger, 24 Aug 2001,
quoting from this page
There is an article in International Leatherman magazine (Issue 25, published July-August 1999) about the history of the Leather Pride flag. According to this article, the flag was designed in Chicago by Tony DeBlase in May 1989 as a working design from which a permanent flag was to be designed through community consensus. The first prototype was displayed at the Mr. Leather contest in Chicago on May 28, 1989, and was enthusiastically welcomed. The creator of the flag leaves the interpretation of the colors up to the viewer. (Although the creator of the flag did not attribute any colors to the flag, many times I have heard or read the following (sometimes vague) descriptions: black is for leather and for permanence; blue is for devotion, loyalty, and community; white is for purity and innocence; and the red heart is for the love of leathermen for each other and for their community.)
There was some objection to Mr. DeBlase taking it upon himself to design a flag for the leather community. However, he defended his position that it was only a temporary design meant to inspire others in creating a permanent flag. Nevertheless, the design caught on so fast that before anyone could do anything, the prototype design was seen everywhere: in magazines, in parades, on flags, on T-shirts, in logos, etc. The original prototype flag is now on display at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago.
Michael Wilson, 30 Sep 2000
More data is at
an editorial written by Mr. DeBlase explaining how he designed the flag.
Mr. DeBlase was a columnist for Drummer magazine, and it was in
that column that he first debuted the Leather Pride Flag
[dbl89]. I’ve read excerpts from that
Steve Kramer, 10 Mar 2000 and 07 Jul 2000
The Leather Pride Flag (for those gay, straight, bi, or
otherwise who enjoy leather, sadomasochism, Dominance & submission, and
similar activities as a sexual fetish) is displayed more discretely than the
Rainbow Gay Pride Flag. They are usually
seen tacked to the wall or flown just inside the door at bars, nightclubs,
and conventions which cater to that type of clientele.
Steve Kramer, 29 Nov 2000
Mr. DeBlase, a columnist for Drummer Magazine, invented the flag entirely
on his own, and left the symbolism purposefully vague, encouraging the
community to assign their own. In the range of the standard responses the red
heart stands for love, and the white middle stripe for safety
Steve Kramer, 10 Mar 2000, 07 Jul 2000 and 24 Aug 2001
DeBlase’s wish was that there are diverse interpretations of the symbolics of the flag. One of the most familiar ones is from Stacey, Ms. National Leather Association International 1996:
The red heart is for love, the white stripe for purity in an open, honest and understanding relationship, the black stripes for leather and the blue ones for denim (Jeans fabric) - both materials that are frequently worn in the scene.Another interpretation:
Black: the colour of S/M followers; blue: for the followers of Jeans fetish; white: solidarity with the novices of the S/M-scene; the heart: S/M has nothing to do with raw violence, but is practised with mutual respect, consent and understanding.Marcus Schmöger, 24 Aug 2001,
This is a variant of the “Leather pride flag” with a wider
white stripe. I saw three leather pride flags in Munich, during the CSD
(Christopher Street Day) Parade, all of them with a wider white stripe.
Marcus Schmöger, 22 Aug 2001
If I am correct, there is a very funny story about that flag.
The flag factories in Taiwan are not flag experts. They produce
flags from artwork presented to them. They offer these flags for
sale to various flag importers in the U.S. and elsewhere. They
produced flags for Friesland and
East Frisia. These come in several
variations. Some have blue and white diagonal stripes with 7 red
lily pads (not hearts, but very heart shaped) and some come with
one heart and variations exist with blue and grey stripes. One
importer received some by accident and because he was a
Palestinian, he did not know what it was and even if he did he
had no (or a very limited) market for them.
He listed them in his catalog as leather pride and it caught
on. Now it has been reproduced several times and is sold not as
a Frisian flag, but as a flag for those who use leather as a
William M. Grimes-Wyatt, 24 May 1996
I’ve spoken personally with Bill Grimes-Wyatt on the issue.
The incident he spoke almost certainly took place, but it was not
the origin of the Leather Pride Flag. It was my understanding from Bill
that the event he describes took place during the 1990’s, after the
creation of the actual Leather Pride Flag.
Steve Kramer, 07 Jul 2000