Australian artist Emily Gwen, who created the widely used lesbian flag, is facing homelessness. Gwen launched a crowdfunding campaign to help them secure accommodation and also urged people to buy their merchandise.
“You know lesbian flag merch you can get from Target or Disney? I designed that flag! While I’m happy to have created it, I am poor and facing homelessness while corporations profit,” Gwen posted on X (formerly Twitter).
“Trust me, I hate begging. But I am unemployed and still searching for work. My unemployment payments cover basically nothing and I have no way to save. I’d ask my family for help, but I have basically no family left after my homophobic dad kicked me out. So I’m desperate,” Gwen said.
You know lesbian flag merch you can get from Target, or Disney? I designed that flag!
While I'm happy to have created it, I am poor and facing homelessness while corporations profit.
If anyone has even $5 to help me secure a home, I would be grateful https://t.co/SIaVUJh9jZ
— Emily Gwen (@theemilygwen) September 21, 2023
In another post in September, Gwen wrote “Being poor sucks. Being poor with health problems sucks more. Being poor with health problems that are made worse by the poverty sucks most.”
One of the first lesbian flags was created by gay graphic designer Sean Campbell in 1999. Since then, there have been various versions of the flag.
Gwen created the most recent version of the seven-striped lesbian pride flag in shades of orange, pink, white and purple in 2018. According to Gwen, the colours represented gender nonconformity, independence, community, unique relationships to womanhood, serenity and peace, love and sex and femininity.
Just posting these meanings again so I can pin it pic.twitter.com/oyRHzQgbC9
— Emily Gwen (@theemilygwen) June 20, 2019
In a post in September, Gwen wrote “Being poor sucks. Being poor with health problems sucks more. Being poor with health problems that are made worse by poverty sucks the most.”
— Emily Gwen (@theemilygwen) October 19, 2023
Gwen revealed that they were trying to save up for a bond for a new place and rent advance and was currently couch surfing. “I am now officially not just facing homelessness, but homeless and currently couch surfing (thankfully I have friends willing to let me crash).”
Gwen said that going to their parents for help was not an option. “Just got the well-meaning advice to get a parent to act as a guarantor on a lease. Unfortunately, my parents kicked me out of home years ago for being gay, so I just don’t think they’d be up for it?,” said Gwen, adding, “If your financial advice involves relying on parents or family with more wealth, it’s bad financial advice.”
Gwen also urged people to buy merchandise to help them raise funds. “It’s everyone’s fave broke lesbian flag creator who is trying to secure housing! To help me raise funds I’ve got a sale running on my Threadless store :) Here are some of the designs! Please share here and maybe on other platforms if you’re able?,” Gwen posted last month.
“I’ve been sleeping on a mattress on my friend’s floor this week. He’s been helping me with rental applications and driving me to inspections and to meet with people in share houses. I wish I could tell you all how much I love him but words can’t describe it,” said Gwen and thanked those who had helped them.
“Some of the messages I’ve gotten have been so kind – I don’t have the mental energy to reply to everyone but I really do appreciate it,” added Gwen.