Today's Flag - French Polynesia 1

Today’s Flag – French Polynesia

The flag consists of two red horizontal bands which encase a wide white band.  The bands are at a fixed width ratio of 1:2:1.  In the center of the white band is a blue and white disk with a blue and white wave pattern which depicts the sea on the lower half and a gold and white ray pattern which depicts on the upper half.  There is a Polynesian canoe riding on the wave pattern.  The canoe has a crew of five, represented by five stars.  The five stars are meant to symbolize the five island groups (The Bass Islands are generally grouped with the Austral Islands even though they are geographically distinct and separate from the main Austral archipelago.

Today's Flag - French Guiana 2

Today’s Flag – French Guiana

But the prison system wasn’t isolated to the three islands of the Isles of Salvation.  The main prison camp was along the western border with Dutch Guiana, now known as Suriname.  The islands were used to isolate the “worst of the worst” as well as for political prisoners who were housed on Devil’s Island itself.   Île Royale was for the general population of the worst criminals of the penal colony to roam about in moderate freedom due to the difficulty of escape from the island.  Île Saint-Joseph was for the worst of those criminals to be punished in solitary confinement in silence and for extra punishment in darkness of the worst of the worst criminals of the penal colony.  Conditions were so harsh, especially the presence of tropical diseases that would likely go untreated, that of the estimated 56,000 prisoners sent to the islands, only about 10% survived the experience.  Those who survived their sentence enjoyed freedom but were never to be allowed to return to metropolitan France, instead being condemned to live the rest of their days on the mainland.

The Flag of France 3

The Flag of France

The tricolor has its origins in the flag of the city of Paris which was blue and red, with blue on the hoist side.  Interestingly, at least to me, this exact flag configuration has also been attributed to the Phoenicians, whom you will recall settled in the south of France near modern day Marseilles.  Perhaps there is a connection? This arrangement is also echoed in the modern flag of Haiti, which we will get to eventually.  During the revolution, partisans would wear red and blue “cockades,”

Leather Pride Flag 5

Leather Pride Flag

The Leather Pride Flag, or what I prefer to call The Trust Flag, was originally presented to the gay leather community in May of 1989 at the International Mister Leather event in Chicago.  The flag found wide and enthusiastic acceptance among many participants, and beyond, especially among those from the east coast while west coast men were disturbed that there had been no community input on the design. 

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