A few days ago, on June 30th the asexual flag hit it’s 10 year anniversary. Born from a community poll, and then faced many rounds of rounds of discussion on AVEN. Not by, on the website in a really collaborative way. You can see a more complete history collected by Asexuality Archive which comes into more detail about why the flag is the way it is.
Each stripe of the asexual flag was given a meaning.
- Black: Asexuality
- Grey: Grey-Asexuality and Demisexuality
- *White: Non-asexual partners and allies
- Purple: Community
*Over the past at least two years people wondered about the white stripe. Said ‘hey we are no longer mostly on AVEN. The collective direction isn’t ally focused anymore. Maybe we should change the white’s meaning.’ Common suggestions include romantic variation. White means the sum of all colors so the white stripe could reference some other diversity within. Which would help tie it to the aro flag more, and the trans’ white stripe. All work without taking anything away.
With that preface, I want to talk about where the purple came from. Which is actually a really cool story I have never heard before in my 7-8 years of being in the community.
Before 2010, ace symbols included shades of grey gradient. AVEN’s logo is a prism for that reason. The demisexual’s flag is also reference a prism. Do you know why purple was added? Never even thought of it before this.
The story goes purple was a 2001 addition. Specially choosing the amethyst crystal shade for it’s relationship to the Greek (or French Poet 1528 – 1578) story that mentions a nymph named Amethyst (or Amethystas). In it, Dionysus flirts with her. She wasn’t into it, and Artemis protects the nymph by turning her into white quartz. Dionysus then showed he made a mistake and poured wine over the amethyst stone, staining it purple.
Here’s some art from a different version of the story, where Dio was less hitting on her, and more accidentally on purpose angry with her. Risking the mortals life via threat of tiger. It ends with Dio crying wine in remorse turning the stone purple.
As you can see above a white to purple gradient appears. Whatever the original version of the story. The heart of it is the same. Artemis saved someone from harm and the person who caused the harm realized their grave mistake.
Later stories tell of wine goblets carved out of Amethyst. Reminding royals would think of Dio’s mistake so they didn’t make their own. Which not only makes my pagan heart happy. To forever now know the ace shade of purple has Artemis meaning. But also how that shade of purple meant don’t harm people who aren’t interested in your advances.
Which in a strange way makes me like that the pesky white stripe could be an ode to allies (ace or not) protecting aces. Because no matter where the story came from isn’t it such a timeless, thought out, over arching connection. One that goes back far more than just the 10 years of the asexual flag itself.
Asexuality history goes back so much further than just that flag. The earliest I know of is from a translated Sappho poem.
There’s so much even recent ace history that has been saved for us thanks to aces, thanks to projects like The Wayback Machine, thanks to how threads work, how google works. I know it’s technology, but it can be pretty magical if you have a curiosity to learn. It’s a gift we mustn’t ever lose to a click bait nature of social media today.
As Sappho also said, “Someone, I tell you, in another time will remember us.”
If you want to learn more asexual history be sure to check out our other articles on asexual activism here.