It’s day 2 in our Queeroes series, a collection of blogs putting the spotlight on 28 figures who have made the world a better place for the LGBTQ+ community.  Should you have missed yesterday’s post about Karl Heinrich Ulrichs then go check him out now!

Today we’re raising awareness of a very important name within the community.  A flagship activist who took the world by windstorm and put his skills and influence to good use.  Today we’re honouring Gilbert Baker.

Baker was born in Kansas, US, in the summer of 1951 and was a natural creative with interests in art and fashion.  Sadly, Baker faced alienation from his peers and sought escape by enlisting with the US Army which did not prove any better.  He was later stationed in San Francisco as a medic where life became much easier for this openly gay man.

Following 2-years’ service and an honourable discharge, Baker remained in San Francisco and began working with activist groups on a number of political causes including the progression of LGBTQ+ rights.  It was during this time that he learned to sew and before long was using his skills to create flags and banners for campaigns.

It wasn’t long before his friends and colleagues were asking him to work his magic and create a new symbol to better represent the gay and lesbian political movement; the symbol at the time was the pink triangle used by Nazis during WWII.  And thus, in 1978, the Rainbow Flag was born.

The Rainbow Flag is a representation of the LGBT community.  It is a symbol that is known across the world and the original 8 stripe flag used symbolic colours:

  • Hot pink = Sex
  • Red = Life
  • Orange = Healing
  • Yellow = Sunlight
  • Green = Nature
  • Turquoise = Magic/Art
  • Indigo = Serenity
  • Violet = Spirit

The most commonly used flag today has the pink removed and the turquoise merged with indigo.

Over the years the flag itself went through many variations with individual flags taking inspiration for different members of the LGBTQ+ community.  Below are just a small number of these flags:

A flag which is gaining more acceptance in the community is the Progress Pride flag.  The redesign was created by nonbinary artist Daniel Quasar who wanted a flag which truly represented the community toady.  The revision now includes brown and black stripes which represent people of colour and those who have died from AIDS.  The revised flag also incorporates the trans community with white, pink, and blue.

Baker passed away in 2017 but his legacy did not.  The Rainbow Flag is still as strong a symbol today as it ever was and continues to be used across many equality, diversity, and inclusivity campaigns.  There’s even an emoji! 🏳‍🌈

How can I show pride in my LGBTQ+ peers?

  • You don’t need a flag to show solidarity. You can show your pride for the community by supporting LGBTQ+ rights and campaigns.
  • Celebrate LGBTQ+ achievements and events. This can include Pride, the passing of LGBTQ+ inclusive legislation,
  • Join your LGBTQ+ news maligning lists. This is a great way to stay informed on issues, campaigns and more and will empower you with news and information to support your peers.

Posted in: 28 Days of Queeros - Queer Heros, LGBT+ history


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