Flipping the Script: Situating the Pink Triangle in Gay History

This paper will investigate how the pink triangle and its various affiliated rallying cries demonstrate the goals and attitudes of gay people who reclaimed it. A central research question is as follows: How can the changes in the use and recognition of the pink triangle situate both radical and assimilationist queer politics? The pink triangle is both claimed and appropriated in popular culture today but is much less recognizable than it was at the height of HIV/AIDS organizing. The study of the reclamation of the pink triangle can provide a framework for understanding the power that comes from the diffusion of harmful words and actions.

By learning about the history of HIV/AIDS activism through ACT UP and their use of the pink triangle, people can resist the erasure of gay history. The learning that comes through history surrounding the symbol can enable people to realize that the HIV/AIDS public health crisis is continuing and adopt a radical approach toward gay liberation. The use of the pink triangle can be understood concerning a queer tradition of reclamation and oppositional meaning-making, giving vital value to the various culturally significant understandings of the symbol.

Artists, activists, academics, and more all develop their understandings of what the symbol means and what it does, communicating a polysemic analysis that imparts value on not only knowledge of history, but an ever-expanding sense of connection between decades, subjects, and––most importantly––people. The persistence of the pink triangle symbol embodies the endurance displayed through years of acting up with a tenacious belief in change. 


Dani Puccio, Undergraduate Student
Departments of Communications, Women's and Gender Studies
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

About the Presenter

Pronouns: they/she

I am a sophomore majoring in Communication Studies and Women's & Gender Studies. My experiences as a non-binary lesbian are central to my love of LGBTQ media and cultures! I am interested in rhetorical studies, queer theory, digital humanities, and fan studies. Demonstrating connections throughout LGBTQ history and popular culture is important to me because we all deserve to see ourselves in the many places and spaces of life––every bit of work we do shapes that for others. 

Attend this Presentation

Day Two (Tuesday, October 13th, 2020) | Session Two (7:00pm - 8:00pm)

Duration: 10 minutes

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