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LGBTQ+ History Month 2022 – The History of the Rainbow Flag

February marks the start of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus any other identity/sexuality that someone may identify with) history month, and for many this is such an important period, not just a time for celebration, reflection and honouring the Stonewall riots of 1969, but also an opportunity to fly the Rainbow Flag even higher.

As our firm’s Diversity Champion and an avid lover of history, I wanted to look into the background of the Rainbow Flag and where it all started and how it became the symbol for the LGBTQ+ community.

Gilbert Baker

Gratitude is due to American designer Gilbert Baker who was responsible for not just designing a flag, but for creating something with meaning and purpose that would become a globally recognised symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. In 1978, he designed the first rainbow flag to represent Pride and visibility and for him a “natural flag of the sky”.

His initial aim was to use 8 colours; hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo and violet, with each colour holding its own meaning and representation of sexuality, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic/art, serenity/harmony and spirit respectively– and in fact this flag did go into circulation in 1978. However, due to the desire to mass produce the flag, and problems with colouring, the colours were amended and replaced and we now have what is commonly known as the Rainbow Flag – in the vibrant colours of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. Each colour now signifies the diversity and unity of the LGBTQ+ community.

Sadly, it took some 16 years before the flag was firmly established as the international symbol for LGBTQ+ pride – being the transition from the Gilbert Baker Pride Flag to the Rainbow Flag.

Beyond The Rainbow Flag

However, the Rainbow flag is far from the only flag which the LGBTQ+ community only accepts and identifies with. Amongst the many different groups, genders and identities within the LGBTQ+ community, a wide range of flags have been introduced to symbolise and celebrate their identity.