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Black Triangle

About the black triangle, which has been adopted by lesbians as a pride symbol.

Added to Queer Symbols, on 12 October, 2016

Black Triangle

The black triangle was used in Nazi concentration camps to mark prisoners who were seen as asocial or work-shy. This often included prostitutes, the disabled, the mentally-ill, alcoholics and pacifists.

It was adopted as a lesbian or feminist symbol of pride and solidarity. It has recently also been adopted by UK disabled people’s organisations responding to media coverage of disabled benefit recipients as ‘workshy’.

It began to be used in both Germany and the US by lesbians during the 1980s.

However, it’s adoption has been controversial. Lesbian sex was not criminalised during the Nazi reign (under Paragraph 175), and there is no evidence that lesbians were marked with a black mark during concentration camps. According to records, there were lesbians put in concentration camps, but they were also imprisoned for other reasons – for political reasons, for being Jewish. One Jewish lesbian was marked for having sexual contact with non-Jews.

However, it is possible that Fania FĂ©nelon’s memoir Sursis pour l’orchestre (‘Playing for Time’), helped create the belief that the black triangle was worn by lesbians, as the memoir includes lesbian themes.

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Black Triangle