Rainbow flag emoji pattern

Illustration by Jason Reed

LGBT folks have been begging Apple for the flag for years.

At last, the rainbow flag emoji is here.

After years of asking, demanding, petitioning, and tweeting at Apple and Unicode about adding an LGBT pride flag to the emoji lineup, it arrived on Monday alongside 99 other new designs in an iOS 10 beta rollout.

Many of the new emoji came in response to petitions and pressure; Apple billed the new emoji as "more gender diverse" after women's rights advocates had called for emoji that showed women in professional roles and athletics.

The beta status means there isn't a pride flag, female weightlifter, or butch basketball forward on your phone just yet; it is likely to arrive in the fall when the iOS 10 is made available to the public. According to Techcrunch, the initial beta went out to developers first, but should hit phones linked to the Apple Beta Software Program—which anyone can sign up for—in a few days.

Just days after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in July 2015, a petition went out asking Unicode to add the rainbow flag emoji. It  received over 40,000 signatures.

"The U.S. legalization of gay marriage was a huge step for LGBT rights, but the community still has far to go," read the petition statement. "Why not create an LGBT flag emoji to honor and support the LGBT community and their fight for recognition and equality worldwide?" 

Philadelphia resident Colton Price-Fiore started the pride flag petition, and doubled-down on circulating it and gathering signatures this summer after the horrific mass shooting that claimed 49 LGBT lives in Orlando.

“The tragic events in Orlando underscore why recognition of the LGBTQ community is much needed across a popular and influential platform: the emoji keyboard,” said Price-Fiore in a press release this June. “I started my Care2 petition for a rainbow flag emoji a year ago, and since then the Unicode Consortium has approved a slew of new emojis, but the LGBTQ flag continues to be lacking. It’s past time for this change to be implemented to honor a community that is so often and so tragically the target of threats and violence.”

A petition to add a transgender pride flag emoji was launched this June as well, receiving 474 signatures. Ken Carlyle, the author of that petition, told the Daily Dot then that the rainbow pride flag is a worldwide LGBT rights symbol, meaningful to millions of people across national borderlines.

"One of the things that unites us globally is our near-universal feeling of being second-class citizens—overlooked, ignored, and overshadowed," Carlyle said. "We deserve representation of our community, even in this small way."

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