Pride Patches & Joy: Learning to Live in Color

Vibrant color stories are not part of my everyday life. My design aesthetic, my personal wardrobe, and even my favorite colors are devoid of bold color choices. This preference dates back to hyper-masculine brainwashing of the 90’s. Back when television, magazines, and newspapers ruled the social zeitgeist, it was fairly taboo to stray from the status quo. As an obviously queer kid, I already faced many critiques on my walk, voice, interests, or favorite colors (generally of a brighter spectrum) which were rewritten to suit the gender binary’s rigid rules. To survive, I learned to compartmentalize my personality for those who’d mind and only revealed my true self to those who I’d trusted fully.

Glimpse into my sketchbook as I sorted through potential patch designs.

In college I shrugged societal norms to fully immerse myself in the LGBTQ+ community, where I finally found and formed myself. Queer spaces were often decorated with pride flags, which became a symbol of freedom and safety; I knew I was free to be me under that rainbow. I didn’t see the beautiful irony until adulthood but the bright stripes of the pride flag were the same colors I was stopped from loving as a child. While I’m still deconstructing my hesitance of bold colors, I recently realized that wearing a pride flag is an act of visibility which could help me to signal a sense of safety to LGBTQIA+ members in public spaces. To confront my rejection of color, I decided to design my pride imagery into slightly low-key yet very “if you know, you know” symbolism.

My first Pride patch re-positioned the pride flag’s stripes to keep the focus of Daniel Quasar’s design.

Re-imagining the pride flag into patches felt very second nature, since I already transform something old into something new. As I started designing, my biggest goals were to incorporate geometric shapes and reposition colors to achieve an aesthetically pleasing color blocking. My first patch re-imagined Daniel Quasar’s progress pride flag, while combining a myriad of queer imagery. I wrapped the colors of the six-striped pride flag around Quasar’s trademark five chevron stripes to form an equilateral triangle, which echoes the pink triangle of queer history. I wanted the shifting of the striped symbolism to reflect a sense equality and togetherness of the LGBTQIA+ community while continuing to honoring our legacy.

My two hexagon-shaped pride patches make for excellent collar patches.

My next patches continued to reinterpret the progress pride flag but prioritized aesthetics over symbolism. The first design took the form of a hexagon (for the six colors of the pride flag) with an embedded star (for the five colored chevron stripes of the progress pride flag). I loved the hexagon patch shape, so I kept it for the second patch. The second design is a more traditional interpretation of the progress pride flag while balancing its colors with color blocking. I’m so proud of how the two patches turned out and they have me excited to reinterpret other flags. I already have two designs in mind for the intersex progress pride patch!

This pile of patches create a wonderfully chaotic color story. So proud of my work!

I’ve started sewing these patches into a denim vest, which I plan to completely cover with my patches. I can’t wait to achieve this goal and wear it with pride. If you’re interested in wearing these designs, they’re are available in the WhatsUpcycle Etsy shop!

Author: Viliamu

Seattle-based video game and comic nerd who listens to long-form video game analysis or drag queen podcasts while sewing costumes, cosplay, or upcycled products.

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