- Gilbert Baker who is exceptionally multi-talented was commissioned to create a flag by another gay icon, politician Harvey Milk
- American flag’s constant display of stars and stripes made him realize the cultural need for a similar rallying sign for the gay community
- The different colors of the rainbow emphasized togetherness
San Francisco, June 3, 2017: Everyone is delighted to see gay pride’s rainbow flags representing LGBT community winding outside of residential areas, hotels, and other public places. Hitching up them to shirts and on the back of hampers is also in trend expressing universal and never-ending love for colors. But have they ever wondered that who created the rainbow flag (also called Gay Flag) and why did it become a symbol of the LGBT community?
Gilbert Baker (also known as Busty Ross)-an exceptionally multi-talented gay activist- was commissioned to create a flag by another gay icon, politician Harvey Milk, for San Francisco’s auspicious annual pride parade. This Vietnam War veteran and then drag-performer designed the rainbow flag in 1978.
During in an interview in 2015, Baker told the Museum of Modern Art that American flag’s constant display of stars and stripes made him realize the cultural need for a similar rallying sign for the gay community. Besides being a struggling drag performer who was accustomed to create his own garments, he was well-equipped to sew the soon-to-be iconic symbol. As the idea of a flag to represent the gay and lesbian community was already hovering over his mind, the decision to enlist Baker proved fortuitous.
At that time, Nazis used betoken of a pink triangle to symbolize the homosexual group and thus, it metamorphosed into an image for the burgeoning gay rights movement. Baker rejected the use of widely accepted symbol because that symbol represented a dark and painful past. He instead opted to use a rainbow as his inspiration.
Choice of colors behind LGBT Flag: The different colors of the rainbow emphasized togetherness. Since LGBT people come in all races, ages and genders, and the rainbow is the agglomeration of all the colors as well as an indicator of both natural and beautiful. The original flag featured eight colors, 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 the spirit.
Baker was able to construct the first draft of the now world-renowned rainbow flag, with the help of approximately 30 volunteers working in the heart of the Gay Community Center in San Francisco. It was first showcased at San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.
After the design was unveiled, it imparted a sense of pride among the participants of the parade. In the Paramount Flag Company, the flag was sold in the new altered version where blue replaced hot pink and turquoise for practicality purposes. The assassination of Harvey Milk augmented the rainbow banner only increased. Popularity was hiked again a decade later when a West Hollywood resident sued his landlord over the right to hang his flag outside his residence.
In the years since the rainbow flag has never seen back in popularity. It is unfurled around the globe as a positive representation of the LGBT community. A mile-long version of the flag was created to celebrate the 25th anniversaries of two landmark events; the Stonewall Riots and Baker’s creation of the flag itself.
At the age of 65, Baker died on March 31, 2017, just two years after the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the U.S. His legacy now remains immortal on in the six-colored flag that flies proudly every Gay Pride month, recognizing the lives and love of LGBT people worldwide.
– by Himanshi Goyal of Newsgram. Twitter: @himanshi1104