There may be no more vibrant and bold flag than the Rainbow flag. That is exactly what its creators were aiming for back in the 1970s when the colorful flag was first designed. However, the popular flag that is loved today isn’t quiet the same as the original; there have been several edits and revisions along the way.
In 1977, Harvey Milk of San Francisco ran for City Supervisor on a message of hope and civil rights for homosexuals. Winning the election, he became to first openly homosexual person to win an election in a major US city.
After the election, Milk turned to his friend and fashion designer, Gilbert Baker to create a positive symbol of unity and hope for the gay community. A pink triangle had previously been used for that purpose but the symbol was tainted and controversial due to its former association with Nazism. Inspired to create something fresh and vivid, Baker dyed fabric in eight shades, each with its own meaning.
- Hot pink - sexuality
- Red – life
- Orange – healing
- Yellow – warmth
- Green – nature
- Blue – art
- Indigo – harmony
- Violet – spirit
In 1978, the first Rainbow flags were flown at the Gay Freedom Parade. The symbol started to catch on, so Baker headed to a manufacturer to have the flags mass-produced. However, hot pink fabric was not available, so the first stripe was eliminated, resulting in the first revision.
After just 11 months in office, Harvey Milk was assassinated at City Hall, sending shock waves through the gay community and increasing demand for the flags. The Gay Freedom Day Committee made a rush decision to line the streets with the flags for the annual parade, but needed an even number of stripes for display purposes. The indigo stripe was eliminated, resulting in the six-stripe version most often used today.
Today the rainbow flag is a symbol of joy, hope, and unity. Fly made in USA versions from flag poles in a variety of ways. For this flexible flag, there is no single way to display it. It may be hung with either the red or violet stripe on top, or in portrait position.