This was mentioned on here a little while ago, and I thought it was really interesting! So, lbpq symbols 101:
The double-headed axe, called a labrys, has represented female power since the ancient Greeks. In the 70s, it became a symbol of lesbians’ self-sufficiency and independence from men. It’s grown into relatively popular use among lesbians, and it’s often used as a tattoo.
During the Holocaust, prisoners considered “asocial” were forced to wear the upside-down black triangle in concentration camps. According to some reports, although lesbianism was not technically illegal under Nazi law, lesbians were grouped under the heading of asocial. As a counterpart to the gay male upside-down pink triangle, it gained popularity as a lesbian symbol in the 80s. It has also been used as a symbol for feminism and disability. As a lesbian symbol, it’s quite controversial due to the lack of definite evidence of lesbians’ imprisonment in concentration camps.
The nautical star, essentially only as a small tattoo on the top of the wrist, became a lesbian identifier in the 1950s. It was used mostly as a way for lesbians to identify one another without having to endanger themselves by coming out in a more obvious way.
A pink triangle, a blue triangle, and a purple triangle where they overlap is known as the “biangles”. It’s one of the best known symbols of bisexuality. The actual origin of it is unknown, but the leading theory of its origin has the blue representing attraction to men, the pink attraction to women, and the purple the overlap. The purple, like in the bi flag, can also be seen to represent attraction to non-binary genders.
The bi crescent moons can best be thought of as a version of the biangles without the triangles; since, again, triangle symbology originated in Nazi camps, the moons are a way of avoiding references to the Holocaust. Having two moons, both in the bi pride colours, is also a way to symbolize the duality of bisexuality without trying to section it into distinct parts like in the biangles.
Venus (the first two) represents womanhood; Mars (the blue) represents manhood. This symbol of bi women has a Venus interlocking with both Venus and Mars, showing the possibility of love for either and both.
On its own, the Venus symbol (each individual symbol of the interlocking ones you see there) is for women and femininity. The double interlocking ones symbolize feminism, in the sense of women depending on one another and standing in solidarity, and are also a very common lesbian symbol, showing women loving and being with women. It is also sometimes used by bpq women to symbolize their love for women.
There’s a poem by Sappho (”No Word”) where, as Sappho says goodbye to a lover, she asks her to remember the violet tiaras and flowers around her neck. In a play called The Captive performed to great shock in the 1920s, a character sends a bouquet of violets to her female lover. Inspired by these two things, violets became a symbol of wlw, and women would send (hopefully still do!) bouquets of violets to the women they loved.