Each representation wears one unique piece of cloth, a flag. They differ in shapes sometimes, they differ in symbols and what’s pretty obvious, they differ in colors…
“A true flag cannot be designed — it has to be torn from the soul of the people.” — Unknown
Gilbert Baker, a self-described “geeky kid from Kansas” came to San Francisco as an Army draftee In 1970. San Francisco has often been compared to Oz, but Baker didn’t want to click his heels and go back to Kansas. After an honorable discharge he stayed in San Francisco, free to pursue his dreams of being an artist. He learned to sew, because he couldn’t buy, he makes all the fabulous 70s clothes that he wanted.
Because of the inspiration, Baker began working on a flag. He dyed the fabrics himself and, with the help of volunteers, stitched together eight strips of brilliant color into a huge banner that spoke volumes: hot pink stood for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise blue for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. He remembers vividly the moment when his new flag was first raised:
“It all goes back to the first moment of the first flag back in 1978 for me. Raising it up and seeing it there blowing in the wind for everyone to see. It completely astounded me that people just got it, in an instant like a bolt of lightning – that this was their flag. It belonged to all of us. It was the most thrilling moment of my life. Because I knew right then that this was the most important thing I would ever do – that my whole life was going to be about the Rainbow Flag.”
Then suddenly, San Francisco received shocking news in the morning of Nov. 27, 1978: Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk had been assassinated at City Hall. Grief and rage, especially gay activists, galvanized San Franciscans.
The Gay Freedom Day Committee (now called San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee) quickly decided that the Rainbow Flag should be flown from the light poles along both sides of Market Street for the 1979 Gay Freedom Day Parade. They split the colors onto two flags, flying each of the three-striped flags on alternate sides of the street. They eliminated the indigo stripe to make an even six colors, and flag production began.
John Stout of West Hollywood, CA, in 1988, sued his landlords for the right to display a Rainbow Flag on the balcony of his apartment. He won, as have many others since who have defended their right to display the Rainbow Flag. Recently, Gilbert Baker said,
“The flag is an action – it’s more than just the cloth and the stripes. When a person puts the Rainbow Flag on his car or his house, they’re not just flying a flag. They’re taking action.”
Recalling one of the defining moments in his career, Baker said, “The moment I knew that the flag was beyond my own personal experience – that it wasn’t just something I was making but was something that was happening – was the 1993 March on Washington. From my home in San Francisco I watched the March on C-SPAN and saw hundreds of thousands of people carrying and waving Rainbow Flags on a scale I’d never imagined.”
When I was younger, needless to say so much younger than today, around a couple of decades younger, I am fascinated by this flags that I wanted to make my own… Well, that didn’t happen… Kudos to those who made it…