A Rainbow of Flowers to Celebrate Pride

May 4, 2023

Gay Flowers: What They Represented in the Past and What They Mean Now

Pride month is just around the corner. Are you looking for a creative way to celebrate? 

Why not celebrate this year with flowers? 

Just like people, flowers are: 

  • Vibrant
  • Colorful
  • Varied; and
  • Beautiful

In this article, we will explore the history of the first LGBTQ flowers and how to incorporate these flowers into the Pride movement of today. 

Table of Contents

A Brief History of the First LGBTQ Flowers

There has been a long association between flowers and the LGBTQ+ community.  

By wearing one on his lapel, Oscar Wilde made the green carnation a symbol across the pond. Sappho was associated with violets, while Walt Whitman was associated with Calamus, aka Sweet Flag.    

Let’s take a closer look at what some flowers have historically meant to the LGBTQ+ community.

Do you want to celebrate Pride with a unique and gorgeous flower arrangement? Look no further than Botanica Floral + Home. 

Click here to shop our floral delivery Portland/Vancouver Metro area today!

Green Carnations 

green carnations

Green carnations were among the first symbols of the LGBTQ+ community to emerge in the Victorian era.

As a result of Oscar Wilde's instructions for his friends to wear green carnations to the opening night of Lady Windermere's Fan in 1892, the green carnation became a queer symbol. Afterward, wearing a green carnation on your lapel was the secret, subtle indication that you loved men.

It has been suggested that wearing an "unnatural" green flower mocked the idea that love between two men was unnatural at that time in history. 


flowers that mean pride

In Sodome et Gomorrhe, Marcel Proust compares male-male courtship to flower fertilization. 

Men were called: 

  • Evening botanists
  • Buttercups; or
  • Horticultural lads

Pansy also became a popular term among flamboyant dressers, according to Christopher Looby's Flowers of Manhood. But again, a strong association may have been triggered by the flower's bright colors.

The pansy craze hit New York and many other major cities in the 1920s and 1930s As a term coined by the historian George Chauncey. 

Are you familiar with the underground drag balls in Los Angeles and New York during the 1920s and 1930s? At the time, drag performers were called "pansy performers'' because of their colorful clothing. 


flowers for pride

The floral fascination of queer people may date back to Sappho herself, fabled as the world’s first known woman-loving woman. 

Sappho lived on the island of Lesbos, which is so close to Turkey's border that you can see it from the shore. It was because of her presence that the word "lesbian" originated. 

In Sappho’s writings, she mentioned the color purple or violet multiple times, which is perhaps where this color first became associated with the queer community.

Today, violet remains a symbol of queer identity. Tennessee Williams's Mrs. Violet Venable in Suddenly Last Summer or Violet in the cult classic lesbian movie Bound comes to mind. In addition, violet was one of the original rainbow flag colors in 1978.


gay flowers meaning

This flowering plant is inextricably linked to queerness. Whether lavender refers to the color or the herb in a queer context is unclear, but the word seems to have been used in this way since the 1920s. 

In the queer community, lavender is associated with two movements: 

  1. The Lavender Scare; and 
  2. The Lavender Menace 

Like the Red Scare, the Lavender Scare was a 1950s witch hunt targeting homosexual federal employees. 

In 1969, Betty Friedan called any potential association of the National Organization for Women with lesbians “the lavender menace.”

In protest, Rita Mae Brown and other lesbian feminist activists disrupted a prominent women's event on May 1, 1970, by revealing T-shirts emblazoned with "Lavender Menace," encouraging others to join. As a result, the group earned the crowd's support, and the moment is remembered as a turning point in the movement.

What flowers do you want to use to celebrate Pride? We know that there are many flowers to choose from to help make your Pride celebration memorable, and the choices can become overwhelming. 

Let the experts at Botanica Floral + Home in Portland help you find the perfect flower for Pride

Click here to shop our floral delivery Portland/Vancouver Metro area today!

How The Stonewall Riots Established the Rainbow Flag and the Flower for Pride

pride flowers

The Stonewall Riots, which broke out in New York City's Stonewall Inn in June 1969, inspired Pride Month.

For the Riot’s anniversary in 1970, demonstrators carried flowers in solidarity and marched through Greenwich Village in what historians consider the first LGBTQ+ Pride March. The goal was to have places where people could openly express their sexual orientation. 

This was the first Price March in history. 

An iconic rainbow flag designed by artist Gilbert Baker debuted at San Francisco's Gay Pride event eight years later.

What Is the Flower of Pride Month?

flower of pride

It’s a classic — the rose. The LGBTQ+ community has embraced the beautiful essence of the rose.

At Pride events, tie-dyed roses symbolize the diversity and beauty of the rainbow flag, and lavender-colored roses have been used for weddings and other events and holidays that call for flowers. Both feature a color representing the LGBTQ+ community and mean "love at first sight."    

There has also been use of roses in LGBTQ+ art. The Rose Project, started by photographer Kristin Cofer in 2016, honors several communities in the LGBTQ+ family, including:  

  • Trans
  • Gay
  • Queer; and
  • Non-binary communities

Roses are held by most of the subjects, symbolizing diversity, beauty, and love

How To Incorporate the History of Gay Flowers Into Today’s Pride Movement

There are several ways to incorporate fresh, fun florals into your stunning celebratory decor. We have compiled a list of suggestions for those shopping for flowers to support the LGBTQ+ community this year. 

Go Rainbow

Tie-dyed, or "rainbow" roses, are often found during Pride Month or LGBTQ+ events. The bright-colored, rainbow-dyed florals have long been associated with the LGBTQ+ community. Flowers comes in every color of the rainbow so if you prefer non-dyed flowers, as we do, you can always go with a beautiful mix of natural colored flowers

Flamboyant, Fun, and Funky

Why not go for a …

  • Flamboyant
  • Fun; and 
  • Funky 

… arrangement or bouquet? Give a gift to make a friend or loved one’s day brighter and more colorful.

Find Meaning

Regardless of what arrangement or flower display you choose, make sure it signifies something unique and shows your thought and care for the recipient!

How Businesses Can Show Support During Pride Week With Flowers That Mean Pride

Supporting the LGBTQ+ community while celebrating Pride is easy for businesses.

Window displays, hanging baskets, and pots at the front of the shop are always a nice touch. Don’t forget about a floral arrangement at the reception desk. 

Anything that supports and represents the LGBTQ+ community and is visible is appreciated. 

Celebrate Diversity With Botanica Floral + Home

Our florists expertly select flowers for every occasion at Botanica Floral + Home.

Hundreds of Portland clients have loved our unique, exquisite arrangements and professional service.

Are you deciding between …

… for your Pride Month celebration? We are happy to help! 

Click here to shop our floral delivery Portland/Vancouver Metro area today!