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Wells Fargo

The Meaning Behind Wells Fargo's LGBTQ+ Debit Card Designs

Wells Fargo Pride Collection
Wells Fargo

These prideful pieces of plastic turn daily transactions into quiet, yet bold, statements of identity.

Pride in who you are is something you carry everywhere -- even the gas station and grocery store. Handing a clerk a rainbow debit card emblazoned with the word "PROUD" or one festooned with the traditional transgender colors of blue, pink, and white is a brave statement.

In 2016, Wells Fargo became one of the first financial institutions to offer LGBTQ-specific customized debit card designs to their customers.

John Lake, who leads Wells Fargo's LGBTQ marketing, says the designs are part of the bank's long tradition of supporting the community, an initiative that formally began in 1987 -- during the height of the AIDS epidemic, under the Reagan Administration -- when Wells Fargo added sexual orientation to the company's non-discrimination policy.

Five years later, Wells Fargo employees marched in their first Pride parade with the blessing of the company's leaders. As a natural evolution of Wells Fargo's support, The Pride Collection of debit card designs launched six years ago and has grown in variety and representation ever since.

"Members of this community are so incredibly diverse in how they choose to express themselves," Lake said. "As the LGBTQ+ community continues to evolve, we want to make sure that our products evolve as well."

Just in time for LGBTQ+ History Month in October, here's the backstory on each of the six downloadable designs in Wells Fargo's Pride Collection:

Wells Fargo Pride Collection - Pride Flag

Rainbow Flag: Gilbert Baker created the iconic rainbow design in 1978, with each color celebrating a meaningful aspect of the LGBTQ+ community. Baker worked with other San Francisco activists to change the symbol of gay people -- from a Pink Triangle, which represented the Nazi purge of LGBTQ+ people -- to a rainbow of positivity. "What I liked about the rainbow is that it fits all of us," Baker said. "It's all the colors. It represents all the genders. It represents all the races. It's the rainbow of humanity."

Wells Fargo Pride Collection - Historic Moments

Historic Icons: This card features artifacts from the collection of San Francisco's GLBT Historical Society, including buttons with the iconic pink triangle and Lambda symbols. Some hope to reclaim the triangle from its 20th century use, while the Greek letter was utilized by gay activists in the 1970s -- and Lambda Legal remains one of the nation's most powerful LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations. The GLBT Historical Society, which has operated a brick and mortar museum in the Castro gayborhood for over a decade, is an excellent source for background on such symbols.

Wells Fargo Pride Collection - Proud

Proud: A bold design symbolizing the courage of coming out and showing pride in the community, set against a blended rainbow background. Thanks to Baker, rainbows are now synonymous with the queer experience.

Wells Fargo Pride Collection - Rails and Roads

Reins and Roads: A more subtle image, featuring a rainbow treatment of the reins of Wells Fargo's historic stagecoach. The bank and the stagecoach have been associated with each other for decades, harkening back to America's frontier past. The stagecoach serves as a symbol that the institution is always driving forward (including embracing diversity!).

Wells Fargo Pride Collection - Trans Flag

Transgender Flag: Monica Helms designed the transgender flag in 1999 as a symbol for transgender rights, transgender pride and diversity. "The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls," Helms stated. "The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender."

Wells Fargo Pride Collection - Pride Progress Waves

Pride Unity: This unique design reflects the community's dynamic trajectory, with an upward wave of stripes representing inclusivity and intersectionality. Doesn't everyone need a little positivity -- especially at the check-out line?

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