Before a Pride parade in 1978, artist Gilbert Baker designed the first rainbow flag.
He dyed strips of fabric in eight colourings and stitched them together. The positive response was almost immediate.
“We stood there and watched and considered the flags, and their faces lighted up, ” gay rights activist Cleve Jones told The New York Times. “It needed no rationale. People knew instantly that it was our flag.”
Today the rainbow flag is a highly recognized emblem for equality, pride, and strength not just for homosexuals and lesbians, but the entire LGBTQ spectrum.
This month, the enduring emblem received a makeover to celebrate the intersecting identities within the LGBTQ community.
The city of Philadelphia advertising firm Trinity generated a new Pride flag, expanding the colors to include black and brown stripes. The new stripes are a simple but effective way to honor people of color within the the city’s LGBTQ community.
The flag was unveiled at the inaugural Pride Month kick-off event June 8, 2017, at Philadelphia City Hall. The event featured speakers, performances, and the first raise of the new Pride flag.
The flag is only a part of the work being done by the city and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to promote inclusivity.
In January, the PCHR issued a report detailing the long history of discrimination against people of color in the Gayborhood, the city’s historically gay neighborhood. Since the report, new policies have been legislated requiring staff member at bars and nonprofits in the Gayborhood to participate in sensitivity training sessions. Additionally, these businesses and organizations may receive “cease-operations orders” if patterns of discrimination emerge.
Racism within the LGBTQ community is much bigger than Philly.
Many presume there would be a certain level of empathy for people of color within the LGBTQ community because these marginalized populations would have a lot in common. But in many circles, it’s not the case.
LGBTQ people of color bear the burdens of homophobia and racism. Trans women of color are killed at alarming rates. LGBTQ people of color are often rejected or objectified while online dating, in bars, nightclubs,and even nonprofits created to serve the community. LGBTQ youth of colouring are less likely to come out to their parents and are at a greater risk of experiencing homelessness or harassment.
Couple this with LGBTQ representations in pop culture focusing on wealthy, white, cisgender, male narrations, and it further perpetuates the idea that the LGBTQ community is incredibly one-note. This erasure and absence of representation have consequences, but endeavours like Philadelphia’s policy changes and flag show we can do better.
Not in Philadelphia? Don’t worry, new flag swag is available now near you.
Free high-resolution downloads of Philly’s new Pride flag are available for print or making your own wearables. Flags, stickers, decals, and flags should be available for purchase soon on the initiative’s #MoreColorMorePride website.
The diversity and intersection of identities within the LGBTQ community is what attains it so unique, beautiful, and strong. House on and celebrating this dynamic community through our flag is a small step that goes beyond words to action. This is a step in the right direction.
Know another flag that comes with its own hype video? Check out this short place to consider the passion behind the project.