And why a rainbow?
It occurred to me yesterday that I had no idea why, or when, a rainbow had come to symbolize gay pride. Growing up, and being raised Protestant Christian, I was taught that rainbows were God’s sign to Noah that he would never again destroy the earth. The next time the heavens would open — literally, anyway — would be when He returned during the Second Coming.
That’s what my Bible teacher said, anyway.
Rainbows, then, were a symbol of hope. They were a promise. “You’ll never have to go through that again, Noah. And, hey you — yes you, Man — I will return.”
Somewhere along the line, though, rainbows got mixed in with leprechauns and Lucky Charms, and then (I did a little research), in the 1970s, a man named Harvey Milk came along. Harvey Milk was the nation’s first openly gay politician, and, in 1977, San Francisco elected him to its Board of Supervisors. To celebrate, Milk challenged an artist friend, Gilbert Baker, to come up with a flag to symbolize the gay community. “The only thing they have to look forward to is hope,” he said. “We have to give them hope.”
And thus was born the rainbow flag. *”Hot pink stood 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.”
And here I’d been thinking rainbows were about Bible stories and unicorns.
The story does make me curious, though. The gay community was looking for a symbol of hope. The rainbow is a symbol of hope. Makes sense, but . . . Why not come up with your own symbol? Something a little different, something new? Why borrow from something that — originally, anyway — has nothing to do with you?