Despite much of the tensions and sadness that has happened over the last few weeks in the United States, on Friday, something extremely good happened that has given many Americans hope for a better tomorrow. On Friday, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that marriage between same-sex partners is a right bestowed by the constitution. This legalizes same-sex marriage across all 50 states. Love has won in America.
While it is celebrated worldwide that the United States has legalized same-sex marriage, a common icon will be seen, the rainbow flag which will be flown with pride, embodying hope and inclusion for the LGBTQ community worldwide. But where did it come from?
The original rainbow flag had been designed by San Francisco artists Gilbert Baker in 1978 and was flown in June of that year at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. Supposedly Gilbert got the ideas for the rainbow stripes from the 1960s Flag of the Races that had had stripes of black, brown, yellow and white. By combining this flag with the colours of the hippie movement at the time that had been influenced by Allen Ginsberg, the original flag consisted of eight colours, all with a specific meaning.
Originally, colours had represented sexuality, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic, serenity and spirit and two flags were hand-dyed for the parade in 1978.
Eventually, Baker had to drop the hot pink stripe of the flag due to the lack of availability of hot pink fabric. Then the turquoise stripe was also dropped in 1979 because of how the flag hung vertically on lamp posts in San Francisco, leaving the six stripe version of the flag – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.
It was not until 1989 that the rainbow flag became nationwide. John Stout had sued his landlords and won when they had attempted to prohibit him from displaying the flag from his California apartment balcony.
Since then, the flag has made countless appearances of significance. On the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1994, Baker was commissioned to create the world’s largest rainbow flag, and he did.
Since the creation of the flag and still to this day, the rainbow flag has been used in all sorts of products as a way to demonstrate LGBT identity and solidarity worldwide, and it all started with the first flag whose stripes had been dyed in trash cans full of dye, and sewn through sewing machines in 1978.