In many countries, June is marked as the month of pride celebration. In countries where LGBTQ+ rights are not forbidden, you can see flags displayed on the streets, parliament houses, companies, balconies of houses, etc. They can also be seen in demonstrations, parades, and other events that take place during the whole month. But have you stopped to think by whom and why the rainbow flag was created? I was curious myself, so I thought that it would be interesting to learn together.
Gilbert Baker is the creator of the rainbow flag. Barker was a vexillographer (flag maker), a political activist, a drag queen, and a designer. Besides, he enjoyed watching movies, dancing, loving fashion, and other leisures he practiced with his friend Artie and Cleve.
He was talented in designing banners for anti-war and pro-gay protests; thus, many friends and colleagues including Harvey Milk, who was the first gay politician elected in San Francisco motivated him to create a symbol for the gay community.
Baker knew that the symbol needed to be something new and beautiful. He wanted to strip off the painful stigma that was created by the Nazi in the concentration camp, where gay men were marked out by wearing a pink triangle that was tagged on their clothes.
One night, he was out at Winterland Ballroom dancing with Cleve. Both were moving their hips, snapping their fingers, and dancing to the music. Everything and everyone that surrounded them were flashing, glittering, and colourful. At this point, Baker knew he had the main idea, the rainbow flat emerged. So, on the 25th of June, 1978, Baker raised the flag for the first time at the United Nations Plaza in San Francisco to commemorate Gay Freedom Day Parade.
“We were all in a swirl of colour and light. It was like a rainbow. A Rainbow flag was a conscious choice, natural and necessary. The rainbow came from earliest recorded history as a symbol of hope,” describes Baker on his website.
The rainbow flag that is raised today has six bans from top to bottom:
Red represents life
Orange stands for healing
Yellow means sunlight
Blue meaning serenity
However, when it was created it had eight colours. Pink represents sexuality and turquoise magic.
Even though there is a dispute about the right of the rainbow flag from different parts, Baker was clear before he passed away in 2017 that the flag is public and free to use by anyone. It is a gift for everyone since it was created with that purpose.
Today as we raise and see the rainbow flag, let’s have in mind that the LGBTQ+ are part of our community, thus remember that inclusion is our duty.