The Rainbow Flag, also known as the Pride Flag and Gay Pride Flag, is a symbol of gay pride. The colors reflect the diversity within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered community, and the flag is often used as a symbol of gay pride in LGBT rights marches and parades. The Rainbow Flag was originally designed and hand dyed by San Francisco artist and drag queen Gilbert Baker in 1978. It first flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.
The flag consisted of eight stripes; Baker assigned specific meaning to each of the colours as follows:
Hot Pink: Sexuality
Turquoise: Magic and Art
Indigo: Serenity and Harmony
Since then, the design has undergone several revisions. As of 2015, the most common variant consists of six stripes, with the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The hot pink and turquoise have been totally removed, and indigo has been replaced with blue.
Personally, I find it ironic that the two colors that were removed represent sexuality and magic, since I find those two areas to be symbolically important and defining characteristics for many LGBT people. The flag is commonly flown horizontally, with the red stripe on top, as the colors would appear in a natural rainbow.
Many variations of the rainbow flag have been used. Some of the more common ones include the Greek letter ‘lambda’ (lower case) in white in the middle of the flag and a pink triangle or black triangle in the upper left corner. Other colours have been added, such as a black stripe symbolizing those community members lost to AIDS. Other flags have been created to celebrate other types of Pride in the LGBT community.
The rainbow flag celebrates its 37th anniversary this year in 2015. During the gay pride celebrations in June of 2003 during its 25th anniversary, Gilbert Baker restored the rainbow flag back to its original eight-striped version and has since advocated that others do the same. However, the eight-striped version has seen little adoption by the wider gay community, which has mostly stuck with the better known six-striped version.
Today many LGBT individuals and straight allies often put rainbow flags in the front of their yards and/or front doors, or use rainbow bumper stickers on their vehicles to use as an outward symbol of their identity or support. The rainbow flag, in an LGBT context, has also found wide application on all manner of products including jewelry, clothing and other personal items and the rainbow flag colors are routinely used as a show of LGBT identity and solidarity.