At 900lbs, we are proud to be a team of designers, artists, and innovators. The history and meaning behind design has an important place in our culture at 900lbs. As we celebrate 2022 Pride Month, we would like to take a minute to recognize our LGBTQ+ team members and community at large by exploring and honoring the history and design of the most recognized symbol for LGBTQ+ pride, the Rainbow Pride Flag.
In 1977, artist and activist, Gilbert Baker, was approached by Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in California, to design a symbol of pride for the community. Up until this point several communities were using the Pink Triangle as their symbol. The Pink Triangle was originally used in Nazi concentration camps to identify those men imprisoned for homesexuality. Gilbert Baker felt the community needed a new symbol, one that was not tied to the sign of Nazi oppression, one that was beautiful and of the people in the community.
The original LGBT flag, also known as the Rainbow flag or Pride flag, designed by Baker and created along with Lynn Segerblom, James McNamara and other activists, was inspired by the stacking of the lines in the American flag and pop culture at the time. Thirty volunteers hand-dyed and stitched the first two inaugural flags.
The rainbow flag is a symbol of gay pride and LGBTQ+ rights and the colors reflect the diversity of the community and the spectrum of human sexuality. The original flag had eight colors. Two of the original colors, hot pink and turquoise, meant to represent sexuality and magic or art, were removed in 1978 and 1979. Hot pink because the dye wasn’t readily available at the time, and turquoise was removed to make the flag appear more symmetrical when hanging vertically.
Additional Pride Flag Facts:
- Many people thought Baker was inspired by the movie Wizard of Oz and the Judy Garland song “Over the Rainbow”. Judy Garland is one of the first gay icons, she was a strong supporter of the gay community, and gay men are commonly referred to as “Friends of Dorothy”. However, according to Baker, “It’s a natural flag. It comes from the sky.”
- The two original 1978 flags were believed to be lost for decades, until a remnant was discovered in Barker’s belongings. It is the only known surviving remnant of the two inaugural flags, and was donated to the GLBT Historical Society in 2021.
- In June 2015, the Museum of Modern Art acquired the rainbow flag symbol as part of its design collection.
- Gilbert Baker unveiled his final version of the rainbow flag in early 2017, he added a ninth stripe in lavender (above the hot pink stripe) to represent diversity.
- In 2017, following an outcry over racism in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, the city commissioned the design of a new eight-color flag with black and brown stripes to recognize the contributions of LGBTQ+ people of color. The flag was unveiled at Philadelphia’s Pride celebration in 2017 and remains the official LGBTQ+ flag of the City of Philadelphia.
- In 2018, designer Daniel Quasar created the “Progress Flag”, which combines elements of the 2017 Philadelphia flag and the trans flag with the traditional rainbow flag. According to Quasar, the colors in the chevron represent trans individuals, people of color, those living with HIV/AIDS, and deceased members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Original Pride Rainbow Flag
6-Color Pride Flag
Philadephia Pride Flag
Progress Pride Flag
Want to learn more? Additional references to learn about the history of the Pride Flag and it’s original designer, Gilbert Baker:
About the artist: https://gilbertbaker.com/
Pride Brand Guide Presentation by Copacino Fujikado https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5cfe9a2bfd796fac5c8a5e7c/5d0d7a00d79cca07c4945e2d_PrideBrandGuide_2019.pdf
Video about the History: https://www.cnn.com/videos/design/2019/06/06/rainbow-flag-pride-history-origins-lon-orig.cnn
Children’s Book about LGBTQ History and the Flag: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/harvey-milk-picture-book-teaches-children-about-lgbtq-history-n864161
History of the Rainbow Flag: https://www.history.com/news/how-did-the-rainbow-flag-become-an-lgbt-symbol