In the rainbow community there are often arguments about all kinds of issues. Our community therefore seems to be slowly polarising, just like today's society. As a result, the space to listen to each other and understand each other's point of view is disappearing. An important element being discussed is our flags and the choice people make.
I would like to explain below why I still use the "traditional" and not the "progressive" flag for myself and my organisation.
Origin of the traditional flag
The "traditional rainbow flag" was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, a gay rights activist and artist working for Paramount Flag Company. At the time he was asked by the openly gay city councillor of San Francisco, Harvey Milk, to come up with a new symbol for the LGBT+ community.
Gilbert Baker knew immediately that it had to be a rainbow. He told NBC News: "This shows our diversity in gender, race, age and all the other ways we are different from each other". "At the same time, the rainbow has something magical. Such a spiritual phenomenon in nature as a symbol of our sexuality and human rights."
So it was during the Gay Freedom Fay Parade in San Francisco on 25 June 1978 that the flag was first used as a symbol for the gay community. The first two rainbow flags were hand-dyed in 8 different colours and then sewn together by 30 volunteers.
Meaning of traditional rainbow flag
Nowadays the rainbow flag consists of only 6 colours. This is because the Paramount Flag Company could not produce the colour pink, so in the second version of the flag it was excluded. In 1979, it was discovered that the middle stripe was missing behind the flagpole, if you hung the flag vertically. Therefore it was decided to leave out the turquoise stripe as well. Since then the rainbow flag of the LGBT+ community consists of six stripes;
- Red stands for life
- Orange stands for healing
- Yellow stands for sunlight
- Green stands for nature
- Blue stands for serenity
- Purple stands for character
Original design by Gilbert Baker, 1978
Design by Gilbert Baker from 1979, because the factory could not supply pink fabric.
Designed by Gilbert Baker after 1979 and today the traditional rainbow/pride flag.
Design of progressive flag
The progressive flag was designed by Daniel Quasar in June 2018. With it, he wanted to draw extra attention to the most disadvantaged group of people in the rainbow community and their fight for equal rights. However, what many people do not know is that the new flag is copyrighted. Daniel Quasar has not just designed the flag with good intentions, he earns a lot of money with it every day. This while the traditional rainbow flag is 100% free for everyone to use. Quasar can decide to sell his copyright at any time he likes. This could mean that suddenly nobody is allowed to use this symbol. But it could also mean that you use the flag with your good intentions and afterwards receive a bill for copyright infringement.
For us, the traditional rainbow flag stands for unconditional love for all. We see the emphasis on one group within our community as inequality. By emphasising one sub-group by means of the "progressive" flag, you do other groups injustice. Of course, there are events that are aimed at a sub-group, and the appropriate symbols belong there.
So the idea and the purpose of the new flag is good. It brings extra attention to the coloured and trans people in our community. But the flag has become controversial because of the divisiveness and the profit motive attached to it. We therefore prefer the traditional flag as a symbol for the LGBT+ community.
Because the best chance for progress is when we fight together under one flag for the right to be who we want to be.
Do you know all the Pride flags?
Photos are from wikipedia :-)