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 -
- Red – life
- Orange –
- Yellow –
- Green –
- Blue – art
- Indigo –
- Violet –
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
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