Don’t Just Wave the Flag; Live It

Most of you are familiar with Judy Garland’s performance of “Somewhere over the rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz.  What many of you may not know is that her performance is commonly thought to be the inspiration for this symbol recognized worldwide.  The pride flag, first sewn by Gilbert Baker in 1978, has become a banner for the LGBTQA community across the globe.  Created at the request of Harvey Milk, the rainbow replaced the controversial pink triangle, a symbol used by Nazis to represent homosexuality.  The new flag was bright and colorful, an intentional statement of pride and empowerment.  Each individual stripe is significant, and together they have become far more than just pretty colors in the wind.  For the past 30 years, the pride flag has functioned not only as a symbol of pride, but as a step by step guide to living out the beliefs of the flag.


The original pride flag was sewn with eight stripes.  Each color represented a core belief of the pride movement; hot pink symbolizing sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, and so on.  The flag was reduced to just six colors as the original flag was difficult to mass produce, but the eight stripe flag has made a recent resurgence.  Many flags now include black and brown stripes as well, representing inclusiveness in race as well as sexuality.  The colors of the flag stand for the most important beliefs and goals of the pride movement.  More importantly, they symbolize the actions that help the community achieve those goals, and if you’ll allow me, we’ll take the flag apart for a moment to examine each one.


Hot Pink: Sexuality

    • What was being repressed, and what the LGBTQA community is refusing to hide
    • Pink was also the color used by the Nazis to identify homosexuals
      • The hot pink stripe acknowledges the history, but claims a bolder, brighter pink that makes being gay a source of pride, not shame
      • Live hot pink by owning sexuality, not hiding it


Red: Life

    • It’s the color of our life force, the red blood that flows in the veins of every human, gay, straight, transgender, etc.
    • Reminder that despite prejudice and violence, the life of the movement is still strong
    • Enacted at every parade and every monument where people demonstrate that they will keep the movement alive



Orange: Healing

    • Response to the hatred that the LGBTQA community has faced
      • Harvey Milk’s assassination, to Orlando shooting
    • Claims that it is a community that helps each other heal
    • Supporting each other on social media and in groups/parades/monuments to live this color


Yellow: Sun

    • The sun shines in daylight; so will this community
    • Refusing to hide behind closed doors
    • Enacted by voicing sexuality, being determined to thrive in the open, (everytime a person “comes out”)


Green: Nature

    • Being gay (or bi, or transgender, etc.) is not a choice; it’s the way you are born
    • Celebrating your love without being afraid
    • Teach children to live and love the way they were born to do


Turquoise: Art

    • Encouraging self-expression; again, refusal to hide
    • Acknowledging difficult history
    • Ex. Calum Scott’s “Dancing on My Own” (How he’s living the flag)


Indigo: Harmony

    • Not an angry movement; want acceptance and equality, not superiority
    • Allow each person to live their lives the way they feel is right
    • Live it out by celebrating differences (ex. adding new stripes) and promoting peace


Purple: Spirit

    • The spirit of the movement and the people in it
    • The determination to create a better world
    • The unbreakable pride of its members
    • Demonstrated every time the flag is waved, every parade, every time we denounce prejudice


Collectively, the colors of the rainbow flag act as a guide to living the ideals of the pride movement.  It’s not only a symbol of acceptance and inclusion, but a working guide to reaching the goal of equality.  Each color represents a core belief of the movement, and every time the flag is raised it renews the commitment to live by those beliefs.  By incorporating the goals of the flag into daily life, millions of people have been able to not only own and celebrate their own sexuality, but become a more civic-minded, engaged community that is determined to make the world a better place.  They have committed themselves to doing more than just waving their flag; they’re living it.

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