Opinion: Reclaiming the Pink Triangle


The scenes from the immigrant detention centers were horrifying. People crammed into asphyxiating holding areas without adequate food, water or sanitary facilities.  But when Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compared these facilities with the Nazi concentration camps, that comparison spawned a huge backlash.

The media was full of denunciations of Ocasio-Cortez by alleged children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.  Apparently to qualify as a concentration camp the conditions can’t simply be de-humanizing but must genocidal as well.  

During my time in West Hollywood I have meet several Holocaust survivors who were friends and neighbors. What struck me about the survivors I met was their dignity and humanity, each one of them drawing strength from surviving the greatest horrors of the modern era. I can’t imagine one of them not being outraged and anguished about the degrading treatment of those held in these detention centers.  The de-humanizing brutality they survived in the Nazi camps only served to foster a greater sense of humanity within them.  

No matter where you stand is on the issue of immigration, you would have to be very hard hearted to not feel compassion for these people who were victims of crime and economic adversity in their home countries and are now victims of political grandstanding upon arrival in this country.  

But the coordinated attack on Ocasio-Cortez claiming she denigrated those who died in the Holocaust seemed to purposely distract from the outrage of the scenes on our borders and paint AOC as disrespectful and ignorant of history. These accusations are a horrific perversion of the lessons we should have learned from the Holocaust. 

While Ocasio-Cortez’s comparison may not have been historically accurate, she was right to invoke the imagery of the Holocaust. The conditions of the immigrant detention centers are de-humanizing and that was what the Holocaust was all about: the de-humanization of Jews, gays, lesbians, Roma people and anyone else who invoked “otherness”.  


As a gay man I feel I am a child of the Holocaust. The LGTBQ community has a direct kinship to those gay men, lesbians and transgender people who were forced to wear the pink triangle as they were marched into the death camps of Nazi Germany.  

What I am drawing from this controversy is the need for our community to reclaim the pink triangle.

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision validating same gender marriage, many of us wanted to believe that we had entered an “end of history” in the struggle for LGBTQ civil rights.  

Sure there were pockets of resistance, but the arc of history was bent in our favor and our equality seemed inevitable.  But with the Trump Administration’s undermining of our civil rights and engaging in an out right assault on the legal rights of transgender people and a corresponding spike in violence against the gender non-conforming, we have to respond the call for a return to militancy.  

The pink triangle was symbol for our struggle pre-dating Stonewall.  It was the symbol of Act Up when our community faced genocide by government bigotry and indifference.  

While the rainbow flag is meant to be a symbol of inclusion it is also relatively harmless and has been incorporated as a marketing tool by Macys, Wells Fargo and corporate America. It is the political equivalent of the happy face.  While it is beloved it is also become homogenized and comfortably safe.  

As we are being forced back to the barricades we need a symbol that represents our power and our determination.  The pink triangle is part of our history, a symbol that was meant to denigrate but was transformed into a symbol of power and defiance.  It represents our determination to survive and indeed thrive in times of adversity and in the face danger.   Our battles are not over and we need a symbol that reflects our unflinching commitment to ensuring our place and our role in the fabric of our country.  The pink triangle tells the world we will not be victims.  It also reminds us that we as a community have an obligation to hold our government to a higher moral standard and we must be ready to stand in solidarity with the oppressed particularly those victimized within our borders.  Never again.  

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2 years ago

I completely agree! I’m Sadie, (8th grade) and this is perfect for my history project! The topic of mine is homosexual concentration camps/ the pink triangle, but more specifically it’s about the debate of the symbolization of the Pink triangle and how it should be used in a positive way! Thank you so much, I will be sure to cite you.

4 years ago

Well written opinion. The pink triangle is symbolic of surviving adversity, while the rainbow flag symbolizes acceptance, diversity, pride. They’re different and can be used differently.

A. Curry - Influencer
A. Curry - Influencer
4 years ago

The “gay” community wouldn’t have to fight as much as they do if they would reign in their degenerate behaviour.

Stop with the meth.

Stop with the alley sex.

Stop with the baudy humor in professional settings.

Stop promoting freaks like Stormy Daniels.

Stop trying to pass socialism.

Stop driving a $500 car while wearing $1000 sunglasses.

Stop promoting things like “open relationships” and “polyamory”.

Stop shoving your sexual preference down everyone’s throats. We get it, you are gay. We could tell before you mentioned it. Helen Keller knew you were gay.

Just blend and you will progress much faster.

4 years ago

I agree with Mr. Martin on this.We are still having problems despite the progress the gay community has made. We need to continue on and the pink triangle is a great symbol.Once used by the Nazis to identify homosexuals,it should be a symbol of our togetherness and resistance to the current political climate we are experiencing. Freedom requires eternal vigilance.

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