Unfortunately this past week, the creator of the rainbow flag, Gilbert Baker, passed away. As I hope most of you are aware this flag has become emblematic of the LGBT+ community, all the struggles that they have overcome and all of the love they have shared with the world. This flag for many is a symbol of hope, community, fight and pride. And we have this man to thank.
The rainbow flag was first created by Baker in 1978, as he began supporting the gay rights movements and protests. It also coincided in his connecting with LGBT+ hero and activist Harvey Milk (if you don’t know who that is please do look it up!). It was then that this iconic image came into being, and created a bright, colourful, powerful and striking emblem which has travelled alongside the fight for equal sexual rights throughout its history.
However the rainbow flag is not simply any old rainbow- each colour has its own specific meaning and symbolism in its representation of the LGBT+ community. The flag we are used to seeing only contains six stripes- but originally Baker created it with eight. Hot pink for sex and sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. The numbers of stripes and colours has varied due to mass production and fabric availability throughout its use- but for Dustin Lance Black’s film ‘Milk’ Baker recreated his original flag with all eight colours.
It’s hard to imagine the LGBTQIA+ without their rainbow flag. It’s hard to imagine going to a pride parade without seeing a flurry of rainbows. Prior to Baker’s flag, the pink triangle was more commonly used as a symbol during marches and protests. However, this image has dark roots having stemmed from Nazi power, where the pink triangle was used to identify and then persecute homosexuals. Although we can never shy away from the extreme prejudice and injustices inflicted on the LGBT+ community, the rainbow flag is symbolic of pride, uprising and a bright and colourful future for everyone. When we think of the rainbow flag we think of love, pride and an undeterminable community who refuse to hide or be ashamed. Rather they choose to flourish, accept and most importantly love.
For this most inspiring and iconic symbol, Gilbert Baker, we can only thank you and promise to keep flying it high with pride.