Do you know who created the rainbow flag and how it came to be? If you’re up for a little bit of history and a lot of love, then read on. This article will answer everything you need to know about the history and coming to be of the iconic and unifying rainbow flag.
When was the rainbow flag created?
The rainbow flag was created in 1978.
Who created the rainbow flag?
Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag. Gilbert Baker was a Vietnam war veteran and drag performer who also happens to be an artist and a designer.
Why was the rainbow flag created?
Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag when he was commissioned by Harvey Milk. Harvey Milk is another gay icon who was also a politician. He commissioned Gilbert Baker to design a flag for the LGBT community to be used at the pride parade. With such a distinct design, the flag stood out and shined amidst colorful gay pride costumes, banners, and signs in the parade.
Before Baker was commissioned by Milk, he was already thinking of coming up with a flag that can represent the community he belongs to, the gay and lesbian community. In a 2015 interview with the Museum of Modern Art, Baker shared how the 1976 bicentennial celebration that displayed stars and stripes sparked an insight. He felt that there is a cultural need for a similar solid sign that can clearly and instantly represent the gay community.
As Gilbert Baker was also a drag performer, he was equipped will the needed materials for the creation of the flag that little did he know, would be so iconic.
Before the creation of the rainbow flag, what was the symbol used by the gay rights movement?
Before the rainbow flag came to be, gay rights activists used the pink triangle as their symbol. This symbol has a dark history as it was used by the Nazis to symbolize homosexuality. During Hitler’s reign, people that donned the pink triangle are ones that identified as homosexuals.
Why was the pink triangle not used by Baker?
Baker did not want to use the dark and painful symbol to represent the gay community so he opted to not have it incorporated in the flag. It was the rainbow that inspired him so it became central to his design.
Is there a meaning behind the different colors of the rainbow flag?
Yes, the flag is differently colored to represent togetherness. Baker is well aware that the LGBT community is composed of different people of different genders, races, and ages. Hence, the different colors. He was inspired by the rainbow because it is beautiful and natural.
Did the rainbow flag undergo changes in its design?
Yes, Baker’s original design featured eight colors: hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, and violet. When the flag was sold to the public, the manufacturer replaced hot pink and turquoise with blue for convenient printing.
What do the colors of the rainbow flag represent?
Per Baker, the original colors of the rainbow flag represent the following:
1. hot pink stood for sex
2. red for life
3. orange is for healing
4. yellow for sunlight
5. green for nature
6. turquoise stood for art
7. indigo for harmony
8. violet for spirit
How many people did it take to create the first draft of the rainbow flag?
Gilbert Baker needed the help of 30 volunteers from San Francisco’s Gay Community Center. They made the first draft in the attic of the Gay Community Center.
When was the rainbow flag first seen?
The rainbow flag was first showcased in public on June 25, 1978, during San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade. It was then that it became a symbol of solidarity.
Since its first unveiling, all pride parade-goers now proudly wave the flag.
Who made the public version of the flag that people had access to?
Baker entrusted the mass production of the flag to Paramount Flag Company. It was Paramount Flag Company that sold a version of the flag that didn’t have turquoise and hot pink. They replaced the two colors with blue for easy mass production.
How did the rainbow flag become so iconic?
There are two instances in American history that skyrocketed the popularity of the rainbow flag.
The first incident that made the rainbow flag iconic was the aftermath of Harvey Milk’s assassination in 1978. When Milk was assassinated, everyone wanted to have their own rainbow banner to show activism, solidarity, unity, and togetherness amidst such a tragic blow to the community. It was then that the rainbow flag was etched clearly in history.
The second incident that spiked its popularity happened ten years later after Milk’s assassination. The rainbow flag got ever on-demand when a West Hollywood resident filed a case against his landlord to assert his right to hang the rainbow flag outside his rented residence. People supported the case and bought flags for themselves.
What is the place of the rainbow flag in today’s society?
Now, the rainbow flag has become a global positive representation of the LGBT community. LGBT communities and activists all over the world now use it to represent all the goodness, joy, and struggles of the gay community.
During the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot and the creation of the rainbow flag by Baker, a mile-long version of the flag was made. Today, the six-colored flag clearly represents the loves and lives of LGBT people all over the world.
Baker died in 2017, two-years after same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States. He may have passed but his memory and legacy will forever live on.