Have you ever wondered why the gay pride flag resembles a rainbow shade card? Well, the story lies in the history of LGBTQI social movements since the early 70s. And, it’s equally fascinating how this unique flag evolved to become the international symbol for representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities across the globe.
Here’s a quick look at the journey of this interesting flag that caught the fancy of all genders and sexualities since its first public appearance in the USA.
The very first rainbow flag that was showcased for the masses appeared in 1978 and had eight colours. The flag was designed by Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco-based artist, who used symbolism from the civil rights movements and hippie movements across the USA and borrowed the ideologies of freedom and equality to create this colourful ode to queers. The original flag was designed using seven shades of the rainbow plus an additional hot pink to emphasis on sexuality.
Later on, Baker had to drop the pink color from the flag as he couldn’t find the hot pink stripe due to unavailability of hot pink fabric.
OG flag bearer:
According to the flag designer Baker, the various colours stood for divergent characteristics such as Hot pink (Sex), Red (Life), Orange (Healing), Yellow (Sunlight), Green (Nature), Blue (Magic/Art), Indigo (Serenity), Violet (Spirit). The flag made a striking public appearance during the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade.
And, it gained massive popularity after the assassination of gay right activist and San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978.
By next year, in 1979, the flag was modified again and blue color stripe was removed from the flag as they couldn’t find an equal number of colors after dividing the flag into two parts.
Rainbow in 21st century:
The current version of the flag has six shades of colors, and is famous worldwide for its important role in the tumultuous history of LGBTQUI struggles throughout the East and the West. In a different version of the gay pride flag, another two stripes were added recently to create a POC (Person of Color) Rainbow flag.
The two additional stripes in black and brown were added on the top of the six colors by the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs in June 2019. The launched the ‘More Color More Pride’ campaign to add the representation of people of color in the LGBTQ community and created another version for the community.
Merch and more:
In recent times, the rainbow flag has been used extensively on designing merchandize like the key chains, coffee mugs, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and more. Even in makeup, clothing, food and drinks etc. the popularly used in symbolic unicorns and rainbow references play an important role to garner more support from the straight group.
Each year, during the gay pride month celebrations in June, the six-striped flag colors dominate the creative fields, billboards and social media. In the beautiful colors of the flag, one can feel the indomitable spirit of the LGBTQI community rising up and growing stronger with every obstacle that comes in its way.