In Victorian England the color green was associated with homosexuality, as was lavender in the USA. The pink triangle was first used by Hitler’s Nazi Party to identify gay males & black triangle was similarly used to identify lesbians & others deemed “asocial”. The pink & black triangle symbols were reclaimed by the Gay communities in the early 1980s to signify our strength of spirit & willingness to survive oppression. As we slowly started gaining our rights, the symbols of oppression are gradually being replaced by the symbols of celebration. The most colorful of Gay symbols is the Rainbow flag, and its rainbow of colors - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple, which represent the diversity of our communities.
The first rainbow flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco artist, in response to calls by activists for a symbol for the community. Baker designed a flag with 8 stripes: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. These colors were intended to represent respectively: sexuality, life, healing, sun, nature, art, harmony, & spirit. Baker dyed & sewed the material for the first flag himself, in a nod Betsy Ross.
When Baker approached a company to mass-produce the flags, he found out that “hot pink” was not commercially available. The flag was then reduced to 7 stripes.
Wanting to demonstrate the gay community’s strength & solidarity after the assassination of Harvey Milk & George Moscone, the Pride Committee decided to use Baker’s flag. The indigo stripe was eliminated so that the colors could be divided evenly along the parade route, 3 colors on one side & 3 on the other. Soon the 6 colors were incorporated into a 6-striped version that we use today.
In 1994 Baker moved to NYC & continued his creative work & activism. That year he created the world's largest flag in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
In 2003, to commemorate the Rainbow Flag’s 25th anniversary, Baker created a Rainbow Flag that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean in Key West. After the commemoration, he sent sections of this flag to more than 100 cities around the world.