June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month!

Current Pride Flag with horizontal rainbow and an arrow in the colours of the trans flag.

It’s Pride Month!

It’s June again and that means it’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month!

Even if you’ve never been to a Pride celebration, you’ve probably seen this flag! Perhaps in someone’s window, or painted on a zebra crossing. Flags (in any community) are important symbols of unity and visibility and have played an important role in the LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Today, we’re exploring the history of the rainbow flag and how it’s become what it is today.

The History of the Rainbow Flag

Below is the1978 Pride Flag. It was the first rainbow flag to be widely used by the LGBTQ+ community. The creator, Gilbert Baker, was an artist and gay rights activist. When he created the flag he refused to trademark it, seeing it as a much-needed unifying symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. He had designed it for everyone and wanted it to be free to use (Coresearch).

However! The first edition of this rainbow design (designed for the 1978 San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade) actually had a pink and a turquoise stripe too! You can see a picture of the original flag here. It might sound funny by today’s standards, where we can get a piece of clothing in 14 different colours but, at the time, when Gilbert Baker approached the Paramount Flag Co. to have them produced on a large scale for the parade, they told him that hot pink was not available for mass production and so he dropped the pink stripe. We’re less sure about the exact reason the turquoise stripe was dropped, but you can read about some different theories here.

Prior to this rainbow flag, the LGBTQ+ community had been using the reclaimed symbol of the pink triangle. This symbol was originally from Nazi Germany when it was used as a badge of shame to distinguish gay men. It later became a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride and queer liberation. However, in an interview with Baker in 2015, he said “We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things.” (The Art Newspaper)

In 2017 the Philidelphia Office of LGBT Affairs released the Philidelphia Pride Flag which added black and brown stripes to the traditional 6-striped flag. This was done to recognize and show solidarity with Black, Indigenous and other People of Color who have often been marginalized or excluded from LGBTQ+ spaces.

In 2018 Daniel Quasar, a queer, non-binary artist, created the Progress Pride Flag. This flag incorporates the black and brown stripes of the Philidelphia Flag and adds pink, blue and white as a reference to the Trans Pride Flag. This flag is also the first to incorporate an arrow shape pointing forward towards progress!

This year we’ll be celebrating pride in many ways, from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and experiences in RBAir’s Online Communities to fun activities in our LGBTQ+ club. And of course, because we love all the iterations of the rainbow flag we’ll be waving them all proudly through the month of June (and all the other months too!). If you’re looking for more LGBTQ+ content you can check out our blogs on LGBTQ+ families or how to support someone who’s come out to you!

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