We’ve all seen the rainbow flag by now, but it’s a lot more than just a rainbow. Did you know that each of the colours of the flag have their own meaning?
History of the Flag
In 1978, a queer artist from San Francisco named Gilbert Baker created the flag and received $1,000 for his work. The idea was to create a recognisable emblem of empowerment for the queer community.
The idea was to create something positive and celebratory as opposed to other symbols that had been used to identify members of the community. For example, the pink triangle that Nazi Germany forced male prisoners to wear if they had been sent to concentration camps for homosexuality.
The original version of the now recognisable flag had eight stripes but by 1980 it was refined to it’s current six-stripe version that we all know and love.
The original 8 colours were: hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo and violet. It was edited as at the time hot pink was a non-standard colour and was costly to reproduce. The turquoise and indigo stripes were also removed in favour of royal blue so the flag now had an equal number of stripes once more.
The Meaning Behind the Original Colours
Gilbert Baker’s estate proclaims that the original 8 colours had the following meanings behind each of them: pink was for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit.
The Meaning Behind the Current LGBT Flag
These meanings have not been lost though and the current version still has reasoning behind them.
As it stands: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for harmony and purple for spirit.
More Recent Interpretations
There continues to be adaptations to the flag to ensure that all facets of the community continue to be represented. In 2017, Philadelphia unveiled a new flag with black and brown stripes that was intended to represent people of colour who felt “marginalised, ignored, and even intentionally excluded” from its Pride celebrations.
However you use the LGBT flag, it’s important that it continues to be seen as a symbol of power and acceptance and visibility for all of us.