Every movement has its music and its emblems, and the Gay Rights movement is no exception. Some of the more well-known symbols of the Gay Rights movement include the Lambda, the Pink Triangle and the Rainbow flag.
The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality has the following entry on lambda: “In the early 1970s, in the wake of the Stonewall Rebellion, New York City’s Gay Activist Alliance selected the Greek letter lambda, which member Tom Doerr suggested from its scientific use to designate Kinetic Potential, as its emblem (Curiously, in some ancient Greek graffiti the capital lambda appear, with the meaning “fellate,” representing the first letter of either ‘lambazein’ or ‘laikazein.’). Because of its militant associations the lambda symbol has spread throughout the world. It sometime appears in the form of an amulet hung round the neck as a subtle sign of recognition which can ‘pass’ among unknowing heterosexuals as a mere ornament.
Such emblems may reflect a tendency among homosexuals toward ‘tribalization’ as a distinct segment of society, one conceived as a quasi-ethnic group.” In More Man Than You’ll Ever Be, (Indiana University Press: Bloomington, 1989) author Joseph P. Goodwin writes: “The lowercase Greek letter lambda carries several meanings. First of all, it represents scales, and thus balance. The Greeks considered balance to be the constant adjustment necessary to keep opposing forces from overcoming each other. The hook at the bottom of the right leg of the lambda represents the action required to reach and maintain a balance. To the Spartans, the lambda meant unity. They felt that society should never infringe on anyone’s individuality and freedom. The Romans adopted the letter to represent ‘the light of knowledge shed into the darkness of ignorance.’ Finally, in physics the symbol designates anenergy change. Thus the lambda, with all its meanings, is an especially apt symbol for the gay liberation movement, which energetically seeks a balance in society and which strives through enlightenment to secure equal rights for homosexual people.
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