Rainbow Flag: The Story Behind

The rainbow flag was created in 1978 by artist, designer, Vietnam War veteran and then-drag performer, Gilbert Baker.
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The rainbow flag was created in 1978 by artist, designer, Vietnam War veteran and then-drag performer, Gilbert Baker. He was commissioned to create a flag by another gay icon, politician Harvey Milk, for San Francisco’s annual pride parade.

The decision to enlist Baker proved serendipitous, as the idea of a flag to represent the gay and lesbian community had occurred to him two years earlier. As Baker told the Museum of Modern Art during a 2015 interview, he had been inspired by the celebrations marking America’s bicentennial in 1976, noting that the constant display of stars and stripes made him realise the cultural need for a similar rallying sign for the gay community. At the time, the most commonly used image for the burgeoning gay rights movement was the pink triangle, a symbol used by the Nazis to identify homosexuals.

Using a symbol with such a dark and painful past was never an option for Baker. He instead opted to use a rainbow as his inspiration. The different colours within the flag were meant to represent togetherness, since LGBT people come in all races, ages, and genders, and rainbows are both natural and beautiful. The original flag featured eight colours, each having a different meaning. At the top was hot pink, which represented sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow signifying sunlight, green for nature, turquoise to represent art, indigo for harmony, and finally violet at the bottom for spirit.

With the help of close to 30 volunteers working in the attic of the Gay Community Center in San Francisco, Baker was able to construct the first draft of the now world-renowned rainbow flag. It was first showcased at San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.

Happy LGBT Pride Month!


Text via History.
Slide photo via Time magazine.

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Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.
Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.

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