For a flag to be a powerful, sacred symbol of unity and purpose, it has to symbolize a real common sense of unity—a unified moral vision around which individuals can rally as part of a larger imagined community. That the Pride flag already has so many variations reveals the lack of unity that has always marked the LGBTQ+ movement when the cameras were not rolling. This disunity has only become more obvious with the advent of intersectionality and the triumph of queerness and transgenderism.
Flags typically serve as rallying points for unity. They point to something a culture considers sacred. The Stars and Stripes was, for many generations, precisely such a rallying point in America. The fact that flag burning, while protected by the Constitution, was deemed by both its opponents and proponents to be remarkably serious, speaks to this: One cannot desecrate that which is not considered sacred.
This is just one reason why it is interesting that the American Embassy to the Vatican is flying the rainbow flag for Pride month. Commentators have pointed out the obvious intent to cause offense to the Catholic Church. But the embassy’s decision also sends a message to the American people: Another flag has government endorsement. The message of “inclusion” that it represents signals to those Americans who might dissent from the LGBTQ+ movement that in these interesting times their membership in the republic for which the real national flag stands is more a matter of tolerance than full-blooded affirmation.
The problems with LGBTQ+ inclusion are, of course, manifold. First, there is the logical problem that any movement deploying the rhetoric of inclusion has to face: If everyone is included and nobody is excluded, then the movement is meaningless. Thus, the language of “inclusion” here is really a code word for precisely the opposite: It actually means exclusion and the delegitimizing of any person or group that dissents from what the movement’s movers and shakers deem to be acceptable opinion. Acceptable thought will typically tend toward a view of reality that regards such dissenters as mentally deficient, sub-human, or simply evil.
Second, the emphasis on inclusion must inevitably default to queerness. It is interesting how the word “queer” and its cognates is beginning to supplant the old taxonomy of “gay,” “lesbian,” and even “bisexual” in common LGBTQ+ parlance. The reason speaks to the central incoherence of the movement. Gay men and lesbian women have identities predicated upon a sex binary rooted in biology. That is rather “transphobic,” to use the psychologized terminology typically used to discredit any pushback on the transgender movement. Indeed, in the wonderful world of intersectional mythology, white gay men and white lesbian women rank little higher in the political hierarchy than their straight counterparts.
In fact, the LGBTQ+ movement has always been a marriage of political convenience. Prior to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, lesbian women generally regarded gay men with deep suspicion, as those who enjoyed male privilege and whose sexual desires and experiences differed in fundamental ways from those of females.