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Twin Peaks Pink Triangle Celebrates 21 Years Sounding the Pride Alarm

Here’s how and why we stake the pink triangle on Twin Peaks each year

Photo by Steve Rhodes

The pink triangle, rosy signifier of the LGBTQ community that always seems to stand in its rainbow sibling’s shadow, makes an appearance on Twin Peaks each year to kick off Pride weekend. But how does it get there? And why?

A little background: While the rainbow flag is the universally accepted symbol of the LGBTQ community—safe to feature almost anywhere, from your neighborhood bar’s drag-night happy hour to mega-conglomerates Target and Whole Foods—the pink triangle is arguably a stronger statement. That’s because it was first used as a Nazi concentration camp badge to denote homosexual prisoners, starting in 1933 through the end of World War II.

Since then, the rosy-hued shape has been used in the signage of ACT UP, a response to the AIDS crisis, and in countless memorials. Its symbolism is certainly more powerful and to the point than the cheerful and family-friendly rainbow, comparatively speaking.

View from atop Twin Peaks after the triangle is installed, 2013.
Photo by Steve Rhodes

It’s also what appears at the top of San Francisco’s Twin Peaks come Pride weekend, dreamed up 21 years ago by Thomas Tremblay, Michael Brown, and local architect Patrick Carney.

"My friends and I were sitting in a restaurant on Market Street, wondering how we could spread the weekend's festivities to other parts of the city," Carney explained in a 2015 interview to Hoodline. "We noticed a huge blank canvas right outside the window: Twin Peaks. Just a few weeks later the pink triangle of Twin Peaks was born."

Photo by Steve Rhodes

Putting it up on the hill was another matter. In classic grassroots fashion, Carney and his friends put up the massive pink triangle without getting proper permits from the city.

"[I]n the middle of the night, Patrick Carney staked a pink tarp in the shape of a triangle on the face of Twin Peaks," notes a 2015 San Francisco Chronicle report. "He, and those who helped him, faced arrest. Scrambling down the steep incline, the group covertly outlined what would become one of the most recognizable symbols of Pride weekend."

Now it’s more popular than ever and a San Francisco Pride institution. And it’s put on Pink Saturday with the help of locals volunteering each year. Pink triangle installation happens on Saturday June 125 from 7:00 am - 10 am, with a commemoration ceremony at 10:30 am (everyone from Nancy Pelosi to mayor Ed Lee have made appearances) and de-installation happens on Sunday June 26 from 4:30 pm - 8 pm.

If you are interested in volunteering, check out the Facebook invite. Also, be sure to bring a hammer and gloves. (Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!) Your generosity will be rewarded with donuts, coffee, official pink triangle t-shirt, and—best of all—being a part of something.