By Bruce Poli
In 1978, Gilbert Baker—who called himself the Gay Betsy Ross—hand dyed the first LGBT Rainbow Flag to fly in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. He was rumored to have been inspired by Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow, and the iconic symbol of the ‘nation’ of gay rights has had a profound lasting influence on the movement and the community we now know as LGBT.
Following Harvey Milk’s assassination one year later, the flag became in great demand and is now seen as the world’s best-known multicolored flag of diversity and inclusiveness. Its history ties to a Buddhist flag.
Baker assigned specific meaning to each of the colors:
hot pink: sexuality
The Rainbow Flag became the de facto icon for all that the LGBT community needed: a colorful symbol with valuable life enhancing themes represented by colors to wave in front of the world.
In its mission to brand the Gay and Lesbian community, the multihued flag dramatizes the struggle with theatrical colors. Like an international security blanket, the Rainbow Flag touches the heart and soul of the LGBT community worldwide, and has become perhaps its most potent weapon, a force of good to be recognized everywhere. Brown and black stripes—which have been added onto the flag for many venues in recent years (a controversial ongoing discussion) are currently represented on a flagpole overlooking the Stonewall National Monument as well as the Transgender Flag which features light blue and pink (see photo of it flying in the Park) adding to the diversity of celebrated communities and causes. Gilbert’s Tour de Force has inspired a great meaning for symbols of the fight for Human Rights and the world is a better place for it.
Dedicated to our great friend Gilbert Baker, 1951-2017