On This Day: First rainbow Pride flag premieres at San Francisco parade

On June 25, 1978, activists hoist a vibrant rainbow flag in the midst of the festivities for San Francisco’s Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day parade. According to its creator, Gilbert Baker, the crowd immediately recognized the flat’s significance: “It completely astounded me that people just got it, in an instant like a bolt of lightning—that this was their flag,” he later said. “It belonged to all of us.” This was the rainbow Pride flag, now an ubiquitous symbol of queer pride and liberation.

Gilbert, a drag queen and clothing designer, met gay rights activist Harvey Milk, dubbed the “Mayor of Castro St.” for his successful organizing of San Francisco’s gay community, in 1974. After his historic election to the city’s Board of Supervisors in 1977, Milk charged Gilbert to come up with a new symbol of pride for the city’s LGBT community. Gilbert decided to make a rainbow flag, each color with a specific meaning: pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. Along with a group that included activists Lynn Segerblom and James McNamara, Gilbert constructed the first flag on the rooftop of an LGBT community center, using large trashcans to dye the various stripes.

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Grayman Share
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