Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Rainbow Flag

We have a Rainbow flag hanging outside our home that we are very proud of. It is right next to our Canadian flag. I also have a smaller version of the Rainbow, Canadian and American flags on my desk. My partner and I are out in our neighborhood, and we are lucky that we rarely have any problems with our relationship and our community so we weren't afraid of flying the flag from our porch. We got the rainbow flag at the last Toronto Pride Week. We volunteered at the Dyke March and had a wonderful time.

I often wondered how the flag came to be and what the colors represent, so I went hunting for the history to the Rainbow Flag. At 365Gay I found an article giving some of the history. I'll post a link to the article at the bottom of this post. 365Gay has a section for LGBT history so I probably will be linking to it often as I search for more of my history.

Briefly, here is what the article talks about. The Rainbow flag was first designed by a San Francisco artist named Gilbert Baker in 1978. He had been asked to create something that could be a symbol of our community by fellow activists. The flag he originally designed had eight stripes: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. According to the article the colors are supposed to represent "sexuality, life, healing, sun, nature, art, harmony, and spirit." Baker actually dyed the cloth and sewed the first flag himself. We have our own Betsy Ross!

The pink stripe had to be taken out when Baker went to have the flag massed produced. There was no commercial "hot pink" material. The indigo stripe was taken out in November of 1978. When Harvey Milk, San Francisco's first openly gay supervisor was assassinated, the LGBT community had a march to show "the gay community's strength and solidarity in the aftermath of the tragedy," and the Pride committee wanted to use the flag in the march. They wanted to divide the colors evenly along the route so they took out the indigo stripe. This left six colors that were used; three on one side of the route and three on the other side. The six remaining colors were incorporated into what we use today to symbolize our strength and solidarity and sense of community across the world.

The article goes on to talk about what some of the colors in the flag as well as other colors mean to the LGBT community historically. They also go into detail about how our flag is a symbol of our pride, hope, and diversity. It is an interesting read.