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  • Writer's pictureMed Sailing Holidays

The Colorful Story Behind the Gay Pride Flag

Among other things, the flag is a symbol used by countries, movements, organizations, and groups as a symbol to relay a certain message. National flags have colors that depict a significant instance in their history that have made a strong impact, while others use banners as a mode of communication, such as those waved by maritime and military institutions.

From the icons of the Roman legion, to the intricate designs used during the Middle Ages, to what is now a widely-used form of visual empowerment, flags represent a deeper meaning to its bearer’s purpose. The creative process to weave history, vision, mission, and purpose, plus the use shapes, colors, and other elements must coincide in harmony to deliver a meaning that will resound throughout the globe.

The Rainbow

Created by noted gay rights activist Gilbert Baker in San Francisco’s Bay Area in 1978, the rainbow flag was fashioned as an alternative design to the original design that symbolizes the moment. Baker said in an interview that the first design – a pink triangle with a fist in the center – came with a “dark” past since it was used by the Nazis as a denoting image.

The rainbow on the other hand, Barker added, was “perfect” since it indicates their diversity when it comes to “race, gender, ages”.

The Origin

After serving in the army for about two years and an honorable discharge in the process, Baker met another prominent gay frontrunner in the form of Harvey Milk who, for three years challenged Baker to create a “symbol of pride” for the gay community. While the first gay pride flag was introduced at the Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco on June 25, 1978, a number of stories on where Baker got the idea circulated the community.

It was said that he was inspired by Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow”, as well as the famed stonewall riots that happened shortly after the singer’s death. Another theory was that Baker saw hippies carrying “Flag of Races” in the 1960s in an effort to extend world peace.

The Changes And The Colors

The original rainbow flag came with eight colors, and each with their corresponding meaning: violet (spirit), indigo (serenity), turquoise (magic/art), green (nature), yellow (sunlight), orange (healing), red (life) and hot pink (sex).

The demand for the mass production of the rainbow flag skyrocketed after the assassination of then Senator Harvey Milk in 1978. The Paramount Flag Company sold their own version of the flag with seven stripes without the hot pink. Baker also decided to let go of the hot pink.

A year later, the flag was again modified when they saw that the center stripe was obscured by a post when it was hung vertically. To avoid further disorientation, it was decided that the flag should have an even number of stripes, hence the dropping of the color turquoise, and came up with the standard violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red hues.

Today, the six-stripe gay pride flag has been waving in various parts of the world. Others even added their colors of their own, such as black for members they have lost to AIDS, and brown as a welcome to “highlight black and brown LGBTQIA members.” A nine-striped flag was also unveiled at the Love Fest Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil that bears a white stripe in the middle. This represents the “full gender and sexual spectrum” as well as “peace and union.”

“Hybrid” flags, or the incorporation of the gay pride flag colors into their own national flags are also common. The United States flag once flaunted gay pride colors, while South Africa launched its gay pride flag that used the six-color stripes and their national flag in Cape Town in 2010.

Med Sailing Holidays proudly waves the six color flag in our Pride Sailing Holiday trips in celebration of LOVE and equality. The 7 day island hopping itinerary gives you a taste of how gay-friendly Croatia can be. You'll be free to express yourselves and enjoy your holiday in your own private yacht, fully crewed with a gay skipper and an awesome hostess. It's definitely a fabulous way to celebrate PRIDE!

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