EDITORIAL: A flag story

Here is the history behind the recent proposals to fly a rainbow flag in Langley City and create a rainbow crosswalk in Langley Township:

The first rainbow flag, created in the U.S. in 1978, had eight colours, each with a specific meaning.

The hot pink stripe was for sexuality, the red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic and art, indigo/blue for serenity and harmony, and violet for spirit.

The flag was the creation of San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker, who had been challenged to create a symbol of pride for the gay community by Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California.

Some have suggested the flag was inspired by the song “over the rainbow” as sung by Judy Garland and the “Flag of the Human Race” flown at peace demonstrations in the 1960s, which had red, white, brown, yellow, and black stripes.

Over time, the rainbow design has been simplified to six colours; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.  It has become an international symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) pride and LGBTQ social movements.

At the time when the first flag flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in 1978, it was a dangerous time to be an openly gay person.

In many places, homosexuality was a criminal offence and homophobic violence was common, even tolerated and sometimes encouraged.

When Harvey Milk was assassinated by another city supervisor, his killer was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, not first-degree murder.

One effect of the outrage generated by that verdict was greatly increased demand for the rainbow flag.

Over the years, the symbol has evolved into the creation of rainbow crosswalks, the first of which was seen in West Hollywood in 2012 and have become a common sight around the world.

As events in the U.S. have recently demonstrated, there are still people capable of directing violence and hatred at the LGBTQ community.

In the face of that, there is still a need for a symbol of peace, pride and acceptance.




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