Gilbert Baker and the Gay Flag

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Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty | 14378

Gilbert Baker is the man who designed the gay flag. After being discharged from the Army during the Vietman War, Baker settled in San Francisco, where he taught himself to sew and soon began crafting banners for gay marches and events. He befriended Harvey Milk. Given Baker’s influential role in the gay community, in 1978 the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade commissioned him to design a new symbol that could be used year after year. Hoping to represent diversity and acceptance, Baker soon settled on the image of a rainbow. “The rainbow is a part of nature and you have to be in the right place to see it,” Baker told CBS. “It’s beautiful, all of the colors, even the colors you can’t see. That really fit us as a people because we are all of the colors. Our sexuality is all of the colors. We are all the genders, races and ages.”

The original version of the flag had eight stripes, each color with a distinct meaning: pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for the human spirit. The color pink was not widely available for commercial use at the time, so it was dropped — as, eventually, was indigo — to give the flag an even six stripes.

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5 thoughts on “Gilbert Baker and the Gay Flag

  1. The rainbow (flag’n’all) has been the symbol of the International Co-operative Alliance, since 1927.
    It’s become ‘the Gay flag’ – maybe we should reintroduce the pink stripe.
    A Barrow[-in-Furness – in the north of England] LGBT group has placed the pink triangle in the rainbow flag (rather in the manner of the Czech and Cuban flags). Maybe we should adopt it?

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    • Thankyou, Seán. The pink triangle, when used as a gay symbol or representation, should be pointing upwards – a sign of liberation – instead of downwards – a sign of repression.

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  2. Been around for an Awful Long Time, and agree with you, the symbol produced by Barrow in Furness has the pink triangle on its side, so to speak, in the manner of the national flags mentioned. Which is legitimate. The pink triangle may be fraught with sinister meaning – but it was the first time a state and régime recognised us as a body of opinion to be considered. And, more’s the pity, in that case, to be suppressed. In the ‘Anglosphere’ an organisation like Hirschfeld’s Scientific-Humanitarian Committee would have been inconceivable.

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  3. For one gay awareness event I ran, we got the canteen to make some pink triangle cakes for afternoon tea. A well known campaigner commented, “I have often worn a pink triangle, Paul, but this is the first time I have ever eaten one.”

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  4. I’m from Belfast – the worst cuisine in the world – we probably ate pink triangles in the 1950s…
    Did you get the idea from that dreadful (but rather funny… (cough)) series about the Scouse family with the queer (prissy) son…?
    Can’t remember the damned name – a ‘4 a. m.’ solution – I’ll remember then, and forget by midday…

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