A year on from the famous ‘Rainbow Poppy’ debate


Today is Wednesday the 11th November which means it is Remembrance Day for everybody within the Commonwealth.

What is Remembrance Day?

This is a special memorial day that has been observed in Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War.

Remembrance Day is a day we reflect and pay our respects to the fallen heroes in the armed forces who have died in the line of duty and the brave members fighting for our country today.

Photo by Cross-Keys Media on Unsplash

Why do people wear poppies?

Once the conflict had finished in World War 1, one of the only plants that continued to grow on the barren battlefields afterwards was the poppy. Red poppies have since become a symbol of Remembrance Day as a way to honor those that have died at war.

The poppy had always been a significant symbol of the war which was identified by the Canadian surgeon John McCraen in his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.

we encourage all our readers if possible to donate to the Poppy Appeal on this special day.


What is the ‘rainbow poppy’?

LGBTQ+ Poppy
An eBay seller listed a rainbow poppy and has received abuse for the decorative Poppy (source @Alexgough on Twitter)

Please note that there is no official rainbow poppy and the red poppy being sold by the Royal British Legion is the only legitimate product that contributes towards the Poppy Appeal.

The poppy in question is a unique handmade designed ‘rainbow poppy’ badge that was listed on the popular e-commerce site eBay.

This ‘rainbow badge’ was created to increase the visibility of queer people’s efforts in the wars, such as World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency for consensual homosexual sex in 1952. This inspired the seller to rename the rainbow poppy to the ‘Alan Turing Inspired Rainbow Poppy Flower Glittery Enamel Badge.’


Why was the ‘rainbow poppy’ so controversial?

Sadly the seller was originally received hateful reviews in the comments and the badge faced backlash throughout social media of anti-LGBTQ+ views.

This blatant attack towards the LGBTQ+ community was clear especially as the poppy was designed to commemorate queer soldiers involved in the two World Wars.

As a result, LGBTQ+ members and allies were forced to express that the community is not “hijacking” the poppy tradition.

Although these colour variations of poppies are not rare. Other types include a purple poppy to commemorate the animals lost in the war or a black poppy to remember African, black, Caribbean and Pacific Island’s contributions moreover, sadly in the bouquet of poppy variations, none has seemingly had more pushback than the ‘LGBTQ+ poppy’.

Thankfully a year on and the reviews have been swarmed with positive feedback and support from the LGBTQ+ community.


The infamous football poppy

But one other type has failed to be picked-up on the radars of the red poppy purists.

A well renowned LGBTQ+ Twitter user named Alex Gough perfectly addressed and shutdown the poppy police by bringing to light a certain official poppy type.

“The British legion sells Poppies with football teams on them and no one cares,” he wrote on Twitter.

Whether rainbow or purple, poppy styles will ‘not change the point of Remembrance Day’.

But as Alex said, poppies particular to the wearer or a community “will not change the point of Remembrance Day but will only make the day more significant”.

Now I’m no football expert,” he continued, “but other than the 1914 Christmas Day truce, football had absolutely nothing to do with the war.

“People can show their appreciation however they like, but don’t start mouthing off against the LGBT community if you’re not gonna start on the football fans.”

Twitter is seriously conflicted over the football and rainbow poppies.

Alex’s thread rattled Twitter esepcailly the football avi’s, becoming a laundry bag of views with seemingly as many people supporting his views as those slashing into it.

One opposer said: “Are they just for remembering soldiers who are LGBT or is it for remembering all soldiers?”

Yet as someone hit back: “Are the Swansea city ones just for remembering Swansea city fan soldiers or all soldiers?”

If you want to see more hateful comments directed towards the LGBTQ+ community from this ‘rainbow poppy’ then all you need to do is click Alex’s tweet below and see the comments. This is a perfect reason as to why the LGBTQ+ community are sadly targeted.


Would you react the same if the rainbow poppy was for the NHS?

A more recent turn of events is Alex resuming the iconic debate and asked his 12,800 followers if they would have a similar reaction if the poppy was created for the NHS.

Earlier this year we saw a mass public wave of support towards flooding towards the fantastic NHS who have been true heroes throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

We can all recall the weekly nationwide ‘Clap for the NHS’ to show solidarity with our countries key workers and the innovative ways people created art, donated and pushed themselves to the limit through exercising to raise money and awareness for the health service across the UK.


NHS Rainbow

Photo by Red Dot on Unsplash

One thing that became renowned with the NHS this year was the rainbow. With signs outside of houses and rainbows showed in hospitality sectors and hospitals across the country the rainbow became associated with the NHS.

The rainbow has always been a universal symbol of hope and peace that has been around for thousands of years that nobody owns. 

But for the majority of the 42 years, in the particular form of a flag with six distinct colours—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, it has been the internationally recognised symbol of the LGBTQ+ community.

Sadly with the shift of the rainbow has allowed people to profit from the symbol. This news has left LGBTQ+ community members feeling uneasy about whether they are losing their symbol, accusing some online shops of erasure and ignorance as they sell LGBTQ+ pride banners rebranded as “Thank You NHS” flags.

One Twitter user pointed out somebody selling the well renowned LGBTQ+ rainbow flag on e-Bay as a “Thank You NHS Flag” instead.

Sadly people have purchased these flags to show support thinking it is for the NHS and refuses to believe the original purpose.

These changes have been very damaging towards the LGBTQ+ community who strongly feel the universal symbol of the LGBTQ+ community has been overtaken.

It is not acceptable to be profiting off somebody else’s struggle and erase a community for a quick buck. Please bear in mind which rainbow you use to support each cause, similar to which poppy you want to wear for remembrance day today.

It does not matter what colours you wear to show your support, just make sure you do. Please remember and pay your respects to the heroes who deserve it most right now.

To all the armed forces within the Commonwealth we at Proudly are sending our love, paying our respects and sharing our thoughts with all the loved ones who will be affected today.

Lest we forget x


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