The rainbow flag became the symbol to the LGBT community in 1976 by an artist name Gilbert Baker. He was approached by Harvey Milk (the first openly gay politician) to make him a symbol for a flag he could carry in a march he was organizing. Baker later was commissioned to make a mile long flag to walk in the 1994 Pride parade on the 25th anniversary of the Stockholm riots.
So in 2016 I stop and I ask: Do I think the Freedom Flag/Rainbow Flag still represents me as a gay person?
You see the rainbow flag doesn’t offend me, make me cringe, or keep me from wanting to be associated with a business or family that flies it high. I just don’t know if I truly identify with it anymore as a way to communicate my lifestyle. In 1976, I was 5. And so I don’t remember Harvey Milk, his assassination or the national controversy that surrounded the gay movement. What I do remember is in the decade I grew up in, every image that had a rainbow flag in it; portrayed a crazy, half naked drag queen as they walked in the Gay Pride Parade.
Now that I am older and I am openly gay, I look back at those images and I realize how brave those people were. I also realize how angry they were because they didn’t think anyone cared about them or what they were going through. Maybe no one did care.
But I don’t think that is true. I think – or I choose to think that people generally care about other people. I just think it was a different time in 1976.
So in 2016….I ask: Is the rainbow flag still a good “all inclusive” symbol for the LGBT community?
I don’t think it is. In fact when I started to conduct my grass roots research for LIVE EQUAL, my gay friends BEGGED me not to pick a logo that used the rainbow colors. “it is cliché” they said. “it has been so overused” they said. “it doesn’t do us justice” they said. When I asked why one specific lesbian couple with two kids and a very traditional life said: “because we don’t want you to recognize us because we are gay….we want you to recognize us because we are human….and we should be able to live (EQUAL) just like everyone else.