chapter
Lambda
Pages 11

Lambda is the Greek letter L for liberation. Originally, it was a pictographic symbol for the scales of justice, and, in time, it began to represent the concept of balance. Spartan soldiers painted a lambda on their shields as a symbol of unity and as a representation of the delicate balance they believed must exist between the demands of the state and the freedom of the individual. Romans borrowed the lambda from the Greeks, using it as a symbol for lampas, the Roman word for “torch.” In 1970, without knowing of the historical significance of the letter, the Gay Activists Alliance of New York designated the orange lambda on a blue field as a symbol of gay liberation. In December 1974, the lambda was adopted as the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights by the International Gay Rights Congress meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland.