The Rainbow Pride flag is an iconic symbol that reminds us how much we have become. We have waved rainbow flags since 1978. Since then, the flag’s design has expanded to honor and celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and remind us of our collective commitment to building a more just and inclusive world.
On June 25, 1978, the first rainbow flag was represented at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. The flag was designed by Gilbert Baker who arrived in San Francisco and soon after joined the Gay Liberation movement. In Baker’s memoir, he reflects that after the American Bicentennial, in 1976, “I thought of flags in a new light. I discovered the depth of their power, their transcendent, transformational quality. I thought of the emotional connection they hold.”
Gilbert Baker was originally from Kansas and arrived in San Francisco in the 1970s. Baker came to San Francisco to pursue his dream as an artist and, adept at both sewing and tie-dyeing, was drawn to working with fabrics and textiles. A few years later, Baker met Harvey Milk, the first openly gay member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who believed in “how actions could create change.” Harvey Milk wanted to create some sort of symbol to push forward the movement and send messages to young LGBTQ+ people to have hope for the future. Harvey Milk’s vision was to create an alternative symbol of pride that would replace the pink triangle, which was a symbol born of nazi persecution. Gilbert Baker and other volunteers stitched together eight colorful stripes to create an enormous banner, with each color representing a theme: 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. The waving rainbow flag has held strong the hope for a society in which everyone can belong and thrive.
The flag, however, has not remained a static symbol. In 2016, there were many incidents of racism and discrimination happening in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood within the LGBTQ+ community against queer people of color. After several harmful incidents came to light, community members demanded change, and in
June 2017, the original LGBTQ+ Pride flag was redesigned by design agency Tierney in partnership with Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs. The Philadelphia Pride flag presents the “More Color More Pride “campaign as a part of the protest against LGBTQ+ discrimination. Tierney added two additional stripes to represent black and brown people and to raise visibility in the community. Tierney and Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs collaborated on the new Philadelphia flag with the hope that we all can recognize the contributions and importance of people of color, trans, and non-binary people to the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2018, the Progress Pride Flag was designed by non-binary American artist Daniel Quasar. The flag’s redesign includes an arrow pointing to the right made up of blue, pink, and white stripes to honor the trans community as well as black and brown stripes to celebrate the racial diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. The arrow pointing to the right represents the forward movement to remind ourselves that the fight for our future is ongoing. Daniel Quasar designed the Progress Pride Flag with the intention to uplift the diversity of the queer community and to create deeper meaning as to what the flag represents in terms of our past, present, and future.
In 2021, UK artist Valentino Vecchietti designed the newest version of the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Flag which is also known as the LGBTQIA+ Pride Flag. Vecchietti is an intersex equality rights campaigner who redesigned the Progressive Flag to incorporate intersex inclusion.The yellow represents the intersex community with the purple ring to move away from colors that are associated with gender stereotypes. The unbroken circle symbolizes fighting for bodily autonomy.
The Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride Flag brings the newest visibility in celebration of the LGBTIQA+ community. We have come a long way to stand for the LGBTIQA+ communities and will continue the fight for a world in which all can belong and thrive.
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“PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag.” Kirkus Reviews 2018: n. pag. Print.
Smith, Charles Michael. “Behind the Rainbow.” The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 13.5 (2006): 49–. Print.
Taylor, Vanessa. “Beyond the rainbow: An abridged history of Pride flags.” MIC (2021).
Pride: “I designed the Intersex-Inclusive flag.” BBC News.