Dixie Darr

How the Rainbow Came to Signify Gay Pride

In creativity, Learning, spirituality on June 8, 2017 at 10:19 am

Remember when a rainbow was just an arc of pretty colors in the sky? In Genesis after the flood, God sent a rainbow as a sign that He would never send another flood to destroy all life on the earth.

The cynic in me notes that He didn’t promise not to destroy the earth by other means, but I digress.

In 1978 San Francisco’s gay community searched for a symbol that represented their fight for equal rights. Gilbert Baker, a 27-year-old artist and drag queen, began brainstorming for an icon that would communicate beauty, diversity, and power and be easy to replicate. A rainbow fit the bill and soon became the most prominent symbol of the international gay rights movement.

Today we see it everywhere, especially now in the middle of LGBTQ Pride month. It has even entered the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection as an example of effective social design.

I love the irony of seeing the religious right distancing themselves from God’s most beautiful symbol because it has been so thoroughly embraced as representing the cause of human rights for LGBTQ people.

I’ve always loved rainbows. They’re fun, lighthearted, and carefree, which coincidentally also happens to be what the word gay originally meant.

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