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CHASING RAINBOWS What does LGBT stand for, what does the rainbow design of the Gay Pride flag mean and when was the LGBT+ pride flag introduced?

by Gary Reading, Jul 2019

MILLIONS celebrate Pride month around the world and the colourful flag adds a splash of vibrance to already colourful celebrations.

But why is a rainbow used as the pride symbol and what is the history behind it? Here’s the lowdown…

What is the Gay Pride flag? What do the rainbow colours mean?

The rainbow flag has become widely known as a symbol for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

It is typically made up of six stripes which appear in descending order from red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, which are positioned horizontally.

Originally there were eight colours in the flag, including hot pink and turquoise, with each having their own meaning.

The amount was later reduced to due to limited availability of the hot pink fabric.

Facebook recently paid tribute to the colourful symbol and created a rainbow flag reaction to celebrate LGBT Pride month.

What do the rainbow colours in the Pride flag mean?

Each colour in the original flag had a different meaning, which many still celebrate today.

When the flag was first created, each colour in the rainbow design had a different meaning

  • Hot pink – sex
  • Red – life
  • Orange – healing
  • Yellow – sunlight
  • Green – nature
  • Turquoise – magic/art
  • Indigo – serenity
  • Violet – spirit

Who created the Gay Pride flag?

Gay activist Gilbert Baker from Kansas, who was born in 1951, was the person who created the iconic flag.

He taught himself to sew after getting an honourable discharge from the army in 1970.

He met influential gay leader Harvey Milk in 1974, who challenged him to come up with a symbol for the gay community three years into their friendship.

Rumour has it that Gilbert got his inspiration for the flag from the famous Judy Garland song Over the Rainbow.

Judy was of course a popular gay icon, and some say Gilbert was inspired after the Stonewall riots that occurred days after her death.

The riots, which saw members of the gay community stand against a police raid in Manhattan, are considered to be the most important event in the modern fight for LGBT rights in the US.

Another suggestion for the origin of the flag is college campuses demonstrating for world peace in the 1960s by carrying a Flag of the Races.

It held five horizontal stripes in red, white, brown, yellow and black.

When was the first Gay Pride flag used?

The original gay pride flag was seen in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.

Around 30 volunteers helped to hand-dye and stitch the first two flags for the parade.

Demand increased after Harvey was assassinated on November 27, 1978 and the Paramount Flag Company started selling the seven striped version – red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue and violet.

When is Pride month?

Pride is an annual celebration of the LGBT+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning, intersex, non-binary, asexual, polysexual, genderqueer and gender variant people).

Pride month kicks off on June 9 until July 7, with the London Pride parade bringing festivities to a close on July 7.

It is the biggest LGBT+ parade in the UK, with thousands of people travelling the route either by foot or on floats.

Last year’s parade pulled in an estimated crowd of nearly a million people.

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