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.

My Pen, My Greatest Weapon

Lynsey Addario, author of It’s What I Do, has seen atrocities that many Americans can only imagine in their worst nightmares, and has experienced the horrors of combat all over the globe.  Her memoir illustrates the emotional highs and lows of her work as a conflict photographer, and her voice as a writer empowers readers to pay attention and get involved in her search for justice.

 

Ironically, the most empowering moment in the memoir occurs when Addario is told that Life magazine will not be publishing her photos of the American soldiers wounded in Fallujah, Iraq because “the images are simply too ‘real’ for the American public.” Her outrage at the rejection is evident in her writing, but with it comes a new, bold determination to make a difference.  

 

In this moment, Addario’s writing takes on a new, commanding tone as she claims “I was now a photojournalist willing to die for stories that had the potential to educate people… to open their minds, to give them a full picture of what was happening..”  In the course of a few words, she evolvesfrom a hopeful photographer reliant on an editor to an empowered photojournalist, turning her pen into a weapon against injustice.

 

The moral responsibility that Addario feels to share the truth of the war makes her writing all the more compelling to me.  I hope to borrow from her in my own blog articles, making sure that my readers understand the importance of my message as an anti-discrimination writer.  By using my pen as my greatest weapon, I can convey the same feeling of empowerment and, like Lynsey Addario, use my voice to eradicate the prejudice in the world.

The Kiss I Don’t Want To Miss

“I never wanted to regret the kisses I missed.”  As Lynsey Addario writes her grandmother’s story in It’s What I Do, the photographer ends the anecdote with this lingering wish for her own life.  Unlike her grandmother, Lynsey decides she doesn’t want to spend her life wondering about what life could be; she chooses to kiss passionately in life and to take risks on the things she cares about.

 

 

Addario’s choice was followed by a life full of metaphorical kisses.  When given the opportunity to travel, she takes it without hesitation.  On witnessing the events of September 11th, she immediately decides to photograph the War on Terror.  As events unfolded in the early 2000s, Lynsey took hold of the moment, unwilling to miss any opportunity.  Her passion for photography guided her decisions, and she became a world renowned photojournalist.  Her pursuit of opportunity has inspired me as I start college to take risks and explore my passions.

 

 

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I’m writing a passion blog to raise awareness of discrimination on campus.  Although the issue takes many forms, it’s a deeply personal one for me.  I was raised by two mothers, and it infuriates me to see hateful slurs in our culture.  As I read It’s What I Do, Addario’s actions inspired me to take risks for the issues I care about.

 

Fighting discrimination is the kiss I refuse to miss.  I am willing to go out on a limb and argue for social equality in any form, be it gender, race, religion, etc.  I am determined to make a difference in my community, and Lynsey Addario has shown me how.  By living my life passionately and taking risks for my beliefs, I can make sure I never regret the opportunities I don’t take.

No Place For…History?

My first week of freshman year at Penn State has been inundating.  I’ve spent the last seven days running around campus looking for buildings, writing my email address dozens of times for clubs I may not ever join, and collapsing onto my dorm-issued twin bed hoping to finally get a full night’s sleep.

 

As a certified nerd, one of the greatest experiences of the week was going to my classes.  Yes, I said it, I’m the kid that loves class.  In college we get to choose what we study, so why not pick something you love, right?  Speaking of loving what you do, one of my first assignments is to create a passion blog to write about something I care about.  It’s an awesome assignment, but I have to admit, it’s intimidating.

 

My first response to the assignment was yes!  I can write about the nerdy things I love!  I created a plan to write about historical queens that changed the game for women of their time.  Satisfied with combining my love for history and women’s rights, I started googling influential queens around the world.

 

The further I got into it however, the more I thought that I could write about something more important.  Sure I love history, but maybe there was something more meaningful to talk about.  What am I really passionate about?  Well, long story short, I want to fight for equal rights on campus.

 

After thinking it through, I’ve come up with a new plan.  I’ve decided to start my college career by writing a passion blog called “No Place For Hate” to discuss discrimination in our culture.  By writing about contemporary issues, I hope my blog will raise awareness on campus about prejudice and promote acceptance in all contexts; after all, WE ARE, aren’t we?