The rainbow flag is a symbol of gay pride, the history and meaning of the flag can be traced as far back as 1977 when Harvey Milk became the first openly gay person to hold a high public office in a major American city.
Harvey Milk was a key influencer to the life of Gilbert Baker (known to be the first person to come up with the rainbow flag).
After winning the election, Milk challenged Baker to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community – a positive alternative to the pink triangle; as the pink triangle was once imposed by the Nazis to identify and persecute homosexuals.
With the help of a few volunteers, Baker began working on a flag. He dyed some fabrics himself and stitched together eight strips of colour into a huge banner. The colours were:
This flag was brought to life in 1978. It is said; “A true flag cannot be designed – it has to be torn from the soul of the people”.
During the “Gay Freedom Day” in 1978, a few of Baker’s handmade Rainbow Flags were flown in for the Parade in San Francisco. The eight colour flag was eventually reduced to seven colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) after Baker approached the Paramount Flag Company for a mass production deal.
The flag is an action; it’s more than just the cloth and the stripes. When a person puts up the Rainbow Flag, they are not just flying a flag; they are taking action. When you see the rainbow flag in an area or outside a business premises, it is often used to communicate to the public; to mark the area as gay-friendly.
Currently, the flag is also widely available in six colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and lilac).