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Rainbow flag (LGBT movement)

Oct 30, 2020

HOTB02A-001-Gay pride flag made by Johnin

The rainbow flag, commonly the gay pride flag and LGBT pride flag, is asymbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements. (Other uses of rainbow flags include a symbolof peace.) The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community, and theflag is often used as a symbol of gay pride when it comes to LGBTQ+ rightsmarches. It originated in Northern California, but is now used worldwide.

Designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1976, the design hasundergone several revisions to first remove then re-add colors due towidely available fabrics. As of 2008, the most common variant consistsof six stripes, with the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.The flag is commonly flown horizontally, with the red stripe on top, as itwould be in a natural rainbow.


Gay flag 8.svg
Original eight-stripe version designedby Gilbert Baker in 1978

Gay flag 7.svg
Version with hot pink removed due tofabric unavailability

Gay flag.svg
Six-color version popular since 1979.Indigo and turquoise were changedto royal blue.

Baker, an openly gay activist born in 1951, grew up in a small Kansas town, and went on to serve in the US army forabout two years in 1970. After an honorable discharge, Gilbert taught himself to sew. In 1974, Baker met Harvey Milk, aninfluential gay leader, who three years later challenged Baker to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community. Theoriginal gay pride flag flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. It has also been suggested thatBaker may have been inspired by Judy Garland's singing "Over the Rainbow" and the Stonewall riots that happened a fewdays after Garland's death (she was one of the first gay icons). Another suggestion for how the rainbow flag originated isthat at college campuses during the 1960s, some people demonstrated for world peace by carrying a Flag of the Races (alsocalled the Flag of the Human Race) with five horizontal stripes (from top to bottom they were red, white, brown, yellow, and black).Gilbert Baker is said to have gotten the idea for the rainbow flag from this flag in borrowing it from the Hippiemovement of that time largely influenced by pioneering gay activist Allen Ginsberg. The flag originally consisted of eightstripes; Baker assigned specific meaning to each of the colors:


Hot pinkSexuality








Thirty volunteers hand-dyed and stitched the first two flags for the parade.

After the November 27, 1978, assassination of openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, demand for therainbow flag greatly increased. To meet demand, the Paramount Flag Company began selling a version of the flag using stockrainbow fabric consisting of seven stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, and violet. As Baker ramped upproduction of his version of the flag, he too dropped the hot pink stripe because of the unavailability of hot-pink fabric. Also,San Francisco-based Paramount Flag Co. began selling a surplus stock of Rainbow Girls flags from its retail store on thesouthwest corner of Polk and Post, at which Gilbert Baker was an employee.

In 1979 the flag was modified again. When hung vertically from the lamp posts of San Francisco's Market Street, the centerstripe was obscured by the post itself. Changing the flag design to one with an even number of stripes was the easiest way torectify this, so the turquoise stripe was dropped, which resulted in a six stripe version of the flag — red, orange, yellow, green,blue, and violet.

In 1989, the rainbow flag came to nationwide attention in the United States after John Stout sued his landlords and won whenthey attempted to prohibit him from displaying the flag from his West Hollywood, California, apartment balcony.