There has been a heated debate surrounding the Confederate Flag following the Charleston church shooting, but there is actually some lighter flag news to acknowledge today: the anniversary of the first time the Rainbow Flag was flown in San Francisco. On June 25, 1978, Gilbert Baker raised two Rainbow Flags that he created as a symbol of inclusiveness and pride in San Francisco’s LGBT community. And just last week, the Museum of Modern Art acquired the flag into its design collection, sealing it as not just a part of American history, but American art and expression.
In an interview with MoMA, Baker explained why he felt the urge to create a flag for the LGBT community and how it became a source of power during Harvey Milk‘s leadership:
Our job as gay people was to come out, to be visible, to live in the truth as I say, to get out of the lie. A flag really fit that mission, because that’s a way of proclaiming your visibility, or saying, “This is who I am!”
He explained earlier how flags as symbols can send an easily recognizable message without saying a word while also uniting a community under one symbol that can be raised up, literally, as a signal of power. Previously, the pink triangle used by the Nazis to identify gays during World War II was that symbol, and Baker said that needed to change, that the community needed something “beautiful” that belonged to them and shoved the triangle back into the past.
So on this day in 1978, Baker raised two of his creations at United Nations Plaza in San Francisco and a symbol was born. A positive one that can make everyone proud.
[h/t Brain Pickings]
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