The pink triangle along with the rainbow flag have come to symbolize the LGBT community. The rainbow flag symbolizes diversity and inclusiveness but where does the pink triangle come from? And most importantly what does it symbolize? In an interview with the Windy City Times published on June 26, Ken Setterington, the author of “Branded by the Pink Triangle”, talks about the history of the pink triangle and the inspiration behind his book.
In his book, Setterington connects the pink triangle to German culture during the Holocaust. In an attempt to genocide homosexuality, death camps became the holding place for gay men who had to wear the pink triangle to identify the reasons for imprisonment. The book gives a first-person narrative of the haunting experience of human suffering.
In the interview, Setterington says the book is important because Berlin was a free and accepting city of gay and lesbians before the rise of the Nazi regime. The views and emotion expressed through the narrative signifies how quickly society can change and that the LGBT community should never get complacent and continue to be vocal “in moving society forward.”
When asked why he is telling the story now, Setterington says:
“I can’t say that there is a specific reason other than if the story had been told 20 years ago to students then perhaps there wouldn’t be the same need today. The first books that came out about the Nazi persecution of homosexuals were published in the 1980s and there were a few others, but this tragic episode in gay history has not been frequently told. I feel that we need to remember the past and remember the suffering of the men who wore the pink triangle.”
He also notes that lesbians, although still sent to camps as anti-social members of society, weren’t targeted by the Nazis the same way as gay men. Through survivor accounts, the book delivers the terrible treatment gay men received and were treated worse of any groups aside from the Jews.
Has the gay community forgotten about the real symbolism behind the pink triangle?
Setterington gives and honest answer. He says:
“I think the pink triangle is being forgotten and the men and women who suffered during the Nazi period, but I think we are also forgetting that there are people around the world who still suffer because they have a preference of their own sex. I believe that it is important that the LGBT community recognize and [make an effort] to understand our history and support our brothers and sisters internationally who still suffer.”
The author feels he needed to tell this story to re-establish where the pink triangle comes from and instill a part of history that may have been forgotten.
“I have always believed in the importance of learning from the past and I felt that this story desperately needed to be told to a young audience.”
For the complete interview visit here. “Branded by the Pink Triangle” is available on Amazon.com.