How Did the Rainbow Flag Become a Symbol of the LGBT Community?

Prior to 1978, the most common visual representation of the gay rights movement was a pink triangle, a symbol that had been used by the Nazis to identify homosexuals and was later reclaimed by the gay community. However, in 1978, San Francisco politician Harvey Milk commissioned artist Gilbert Baker to come up with a flag for the city’s annual Gay Freedom Day Parade. Although it has undergone some changes, Baker’s original eight-colored rainbow flag was meant to represent togetherness. In Baker's original design, hot pink represented sex, red was for life, orange was for healing, yellow signified sunlight, green was for nature, turquoise represented art, indigo was for harmony, and violet denoted spirit.

More about the rainbow flag:

  • A similar rainbow flag was often seen on college campuses during the 1960s. The flag was meant to represent world peace during the anti-war movement.
  • The current rainbow flag -- which typically has just six colors -- is recognized around the globe as a positive representation of the LGBT community.
  • Harvey Milk made history as the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. In 1977, he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Tragically, only five months after the rainbow flag made its debut, Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by a disgruntled former colleague.
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Discussion Comments


It isn't a rainbow -- not really. It is just a flag of many colors representing many things that the gay community want to aspire to. It can't spoil the real rainbow, the wonder of nature that often shows itself in the sky.


Yeah but they also ruined everyone's love of nature's beautiful rainbows. I can no longer look at a rainbow the same. I bet they also replaced the pot of gold with a Village People CD.

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