That Big Gay Flag
posted on 27th Jun 2018 by Glenn Bolton
Seeing as my last blog was all about Vexillology and with the weekend that’s in it, I thought I’d let you all know about Gilbert Baker!
Who? …Gilbert Baker was an American artist, gay rights activist, and the designer of the rainbow flag, living in the capital of the LGBT world, San Francisco.
Baker first created the Rainbow Flag with an LGBT collective in 1978. He refused to trademark it, seeing it as a symbol for the LGBT community, part of the reason it has spread like wildfire throughout the world.
The colors on the Rainbow Flag reflect the diversity of the LGBT community. Originally the flag had 8 colours! Representing sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic/art, serenity, and spirit.
In the dead of night in ’78, thirty volunteers helped Baker hand-dye and stitch the first original flag in the top-floor attic gallery of the Gay Community Center in San Francisco. Because the use of dye in public washing machines wasn’t allowed, they waited until late at night to rinse the dye from their clothes, running a cycle with bleach in the washing machines after leaving.
The design has undergone several revisions to remove two colors for expediency and later re-add those colors when they became more widely available. The most common version, the one everyone will be flying this weekend consists of six stripes, with the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Baker referred to this version of the flag as the “commercial version”, because it came about due to practical considerations of mass production. Unfortunately the colours representing sex and magic got cut! However the flag has grown to represent the community as a whole.
Unfortunately Gilbert Baker passed away last year at the age of 65. So when you’re waving the flag on the march this year, give it an extra wave for him, remembered as a progressive thinker who helped define the modern LGBT movement.
And now you know!
Glenn Bolton – Senior Graphic Designer
Glenn has been waving the flag for Neworld for 5 years now. Not so new to our design team anymore. He’s our resident craft beer aficionado, wannabe Michelin star chef, photographer of yummy foods, maker of tiny things, Dublin tour guide and a proprietor of one of the swankiest single speed bikes around town.