History of the Pride Flag: A lesson on mass production design

Wondering how the rainbow became the signature flag design of the LGBTQ+ community? Let me educate the youth.

1978

The first 8-striped Rainbow Flag was designed, hand-stitched and hand-dyed, in 1978 by activist and artist Gilbert Baker after Harvey Milk —queer activist and one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S.— commissioned him to create a recognizable emblem of empowerment for the queer community.

The flag first appeared in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade, and each color had a meaning:

“It all goes back to the first moment of the first flag back in 1978 for me. Raising it up and seeing it there blowing in the wind for everyone to see. It completely astounded me that people just got it, in an instant like a bolt of lightening – that this was their flag. It belonged to all of us…”

– Gilbert Baker

1979

Baker approached Paramount Flag Co. to mass produce the flags, however, hot pink was a non-standard color in flag fabric production and deemed too costly to reproduce, therefore Baker decided to drop this stripe.

1979 – Present

That same year, after the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, The Gay Freedom Day Committee decided that the Rainbow Flag should be flown from the light poles along both sides of Market Street for the 1979 Gay Freedom Day Parade.

Baker and Paramount’s vice president Ken Hughes agreed to replace the turquoise and indigo stripes with royal blue to evenly split the stripes on each side of the light poles. And the six-stripe rainbow flag was born.

Who would have thought the history of the Pride Flag was a lesson on inspiration, mass production, feasibility, and aesthetics.

2017

In 2017 the city of Philadelphia added two colors — black and brown — to the Pride flag represent inclusion of people of color in the LGBTQ community. The flag reception has been marked by controversy as some critics believe those changes are unnecessary, since the flag is already a symbol of unity and as has historically represented LGBTQ people as a whole.

The following year, Lena Waithe, American screenwriter, producer, and actress; wore a Pride Cape with these new colors to the Met Gala 2018.

2018

In 2018, designer Daniel Quasar, who identifies as queer and nonbinary, launched a Kickstarter to redesign the LGBTQ Pride flag with an emphasis on inclusion and progression.

The white, pink, and light blue reflect the colors of the transgender flag, while the brown and black stripes represent people of color and those lost to AIDS.

“The 6 stripe LGBTQ flag should be separated from the newer stripes because of their difference in meaning, as well as to shift focus and emphasis to what is important in our current community climate.”

-Daniel Quasar

Daniel explains that “The main section of the flag (background) includes the traditional 6 stripe LGBTQ flag as seen in its widely adopted form so as not to take away from its original meaning…The trans flag and marginalized community stripes were shifted to the Hoist of the flag and given a new arrow shape. The arrow points to the right to show forward movement, while being along the left edge shows that progress still needs to be made.”

And this is not my F opinion… This is history and facts. #Pride

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