The Rubber Pride Flag
From the book Skintight:
A Guide to Rubbermen, Macho Fetish and Fantasy
by Tim Brough
Many communities in the fetish scene have developed their own special variance of a “pride flag,” and the Rubber Pride Flag has been in existence since 1994. Developed by Peter Tolos and Scott Moats, it has since made its way to t-shirts and lapel pins and of course flags, among other items. There is some dispute as to how exactly the flag was originated, but the main event did take place at a Vulcan America Rubber party.
Peter felt that this symbolic flag could be a way of identifying ourselves as rubberists to one another. When Scott and Peter discussed a rubber flag on a Palm Springs patio during a rubber get together, they worked on a concept, and then drew up the design which was modified as the group made suggestions. To Scott’s recollection, “I designed the main look of the flag, Peter drew it up at a Vulcan America meeting while I was standing over him describing what I had in mind. Peter put in his ideas, such as the coloration.”
Peter claimed the he’d had the idea for a flag for five or six years, before the actual creation of the first flag took place at that 1994 event. In an interview from Vulcan America’s fourth issue, he stated, “I was hosting a Rubber Party in Palm Springs. We were talking about making a flag, so I drew up the basic design. Then Scott Moats (Rubber Knights of San Diego) and I modified it and I did the final drawings of what the flag is now. To me it’s a nice way to identify similar, like minded men.
“I looked at the other flags that are around, like the Bear Flag and the Leather Flag, and I just wanted something that would be more distinctive. There are very few black flags, so the basic color is black. But it also needed some bright areas, so the red and the yellow were used. Basically the yellow originally was for water sports and the red had to do with blood, but I’ve interpreted it slightly different since. The little ‘V’ that’s in there stood for Vulcan, which was the Rubber Club that had started and indicated a kink. Rather than have straight bars across, it has a kink into the flag and that makes its intent fairly clear, then cheerfully added, “it’s a kinky flag!”
At the time, Peter considered that there was no real rubber community and little support for Rubber activities. There were a few groups not necessarily clubs dotted around the country but lacked a way to find like minded people. “Only a few people attended events; relatively few people supported Vulcan America Magazine, and attempts to stir up interest in rubber clubs were disappointing. Finding other rubber men, especially in the US is difficult because few rubbermen ever go out in gear. As a group, gays, and especially fetishists, remain under attack, so any effort to get us together can only help us to fend off such incursions into our freedom to be free thinking adults. Promulgating that symbol helps to develop community.” Since then the internet has provided a way for not only rubberists, but all fetishes to find their way “out of the closet. One of Peter’s main rallying statements was “You are not alone,” which aided many in coming out and not being afraid of their desire for rubber.
Scott also viewed the creation of the flag as a uniting symbol. “I wanted to give something to the rubber community; I believe it should be free for all rubberists to hang with pride and unity. I have a rubber copy of the flag and use it often. It is still my desire to see it used freely within the community.”
The ownership of the image was signed over to Peter by Scott on January 31st, 1998. At the time, it allowed Scott to use the flag for any way Scott saw fit in San Diego, and stipulated that all other uses were to be licensed through Peter. Upon Peter’s death, it was Peter’s request that the flag’s image be allowed to the public domain. He really desired the flag to float free for whoever wanted to use its image.