Waving the Mad Pride Flag In Waving the Mad Pride Flag, Part I, I introduced the Mad Pride movement and spoke about the new movement afoot: the quest for a flag to represent the Toronto Mad Pride contingent.

It turns out that’s not as easy a task as one might think. However, with the leadership of Saraƒin (a talented, intelligent artist and conscientious member of the tribe), I’m confident those involved will come up with a wonderful banner they can be proud of. AND – how cool is this? – they’re welcoming YOU to be part of the process! So, if you have any graphic design talent, an artistic bent, or a well-thought-out opinion, please send in any and all ideas and thoughts to: [email protected]

Saraƒin, who initiated and heads up the flag-creation campaign, was happy to share a little more about her project. Saraƒin’s thoughts will provide some background to the process so far. Here’s an abridged version of our conversation:

ZK: What will having a flag for Mad Pride accomplish?

S: I think a Mad Pride flag would help us stand out as a group, and it would help to have some kind of symbol/colour scheme as a means to identify ourselves.

ZK: Where (how, and why) do you see the flag being used besides in Mad Pride parades?

S: The flag could be posted on the personal blogs and websites of anyone identifying with Mad Pride. I imagine that if embraced, it would be used like the flag of any other Pride group.

ZK: What are your hopes, goals and dreams for having a flag to represent Mad Pride?

S: I see it as an opportunity to be creative: a flag might add to the already growing creativity within the Mad Pride scene.

ZK: What is its meaning for you personally?

S: It’s meant to represent the mind and the freedom to be oneself and ownership of one’s mind and body.

ZK: The Greek letter Ψ (Psi) is used by the psychology / psychiatry / parapsychology professions. I see you’ve used it in several early flag designs. Can you speak to this?

S: I thought it would be good to reclaim this symbol. Certainly, it is not as universally accepted as a medical symbol as the cross or the caduceus. It not only stands for psychiatry/psychology, but also for the spiritual mind, which many Mad Pride people can relate to.

It’s [also] for the sake of reclamation. Sort of like the Gay Pride movement’s “pink triangle”.

ZK: You use shades of yellow in several versions of your flag design, and refer to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story, “The Yellow Wallpaper.”  Could you elaborate on this please?

S:  I chose colours from the yellow spectrum because of the superstition that once existed that yellow can lead to madness. The best example I can come up with in relating yellow to lunacy is in Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” in which a woman suffering from “melancholia” is locked in a room with horrid yellow wallpaper, which seems to in part have an influence on her deteriorating state of mind. Also, I heard it said that it was believed that yellow could drive someone mad because a large number of “lunatics” claimed that yellow was their favorite colour. 19th century psychiatry – yikes.

Yellow is also a bright, attention-grabbing colour… In metaphysics, yellow is associated with Air, which is linked to the Mind. It stands out in a crowd, and I could be wrong but it doesn’t yet seem to be associated with any other Pride movements.

ZK: Can you speak to the other colour (red) you chose for the flag?

S: The red was chosen for its boldness, but it could also represent the blood we’ve shed, as there has been much of it shed throughout the history of psychiatry. That was one interpretation.

ZK: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about your Mad Pride flag creation initiative?

S: It’s impossible to please everyone, but if something about a particular design is, say, offensive, I take feedback and suggestions seriously, or at least into strong consideration.

I started a Mad Pride Flag Design Campaign blog site, http://madprideflagdesigncampaign.wordpress.com/, where designs will be posted as they are thought up. Others can submit designs as well, if they like. Maybe we’ll have some kind of vote-in?

My goal is to find a design that satisfies as many minds as possible, and that really says “MAD PRIDE!”


For more information about the Mad Pride movement:

John McCarthy – Ireland’s Mad Pride Movement

In this video, McCarthy describes himself as a “social entrepreneur.” Watch his emotional and triumphant personal story of madness and mistreatment, his founding of Ireland’s Mad Pride movement, and his inspirational tale of changing mental health legislation in Ireland.

Mad Pride UK

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