By Lupita Franco Peimbert
Culture & Community
(San Francisco) – A large piece of an original rainbow flag raised at a key moment for the gay movement in the United States is now part of San Francisco’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transexual (GLBT) Historical Society Museum.
The piece had been lost in time and space, but after four decades it has serendipitously returned home, and it was unveiled Friday at the GLBT Historical Society Museum currently located in the Castro District.
Present at the press conference were the staff of the GLBT Historical Society Museum, the Baker Foundation, and a group of elected officials and community leaders who said they are excited about having the flag back home for it represents hope, safety, and refuge.
“It is not just about LGBTQ history, it’s not just about SF history, this is American history,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “It is important to recognize it in a way that elevates the conversation.”
The fragment belongs to one of the two original eight-color rainbow flags raised at the San Francisco United Nations Plaza on June 25, 1978, for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Parade.
The 10 feet by 28 feet piece of cloth, and the other rainbow flags for that celebration were designed and created by Gilbert Baker, who at the time lived in the City.
A number of his friends and volunteers helped by hand-stitching and dying pieces of cloth into eight colored stripes: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue, and purple.
Although the rainbow flag was initially seen as representing a rainbow of values and ideals such as sex, life, healing, the sun, nature, art and magic, serenity and the spirit, the rainbow flag seems to currently also represent diversity within diversity.
“We are Black, we are Indigenous, we are Latino, we are Asian, we are Transgender, we are all the nationalities and all the races… comprised the LGBTQ community,” said Terry Beswick, Executive Director of the GLBT Historical Society. “We are still discovering our history. Stories of oppression and discrimination (are) still happening today, in other countries, in this country and in this city.”
The rainbow flag created by Gilbert Baker in the 70s has since been recognized as the maximum symbol for LGBTQ rights in the United States and worldwide, even though movements similar to the gay and lesbian communities have created their own flags in recent years.
Worth noticing is that most of the rainbow flags displayed around the world have six colors while San Francisco’s original flags thus this piece of cloth have eight colors. Pink and light blue were dropped due to practicalities, apparently.
“I am very happy we were able to bring the eight-color rainbow flag back to San Francisco” said Tina Valentín Aguirre, Board President of the GLBT Historical Society “we will make sure to make it available to researchers and curators, and of course to the public and new generations.”
The piece of the rainbow flag is exhibited at the Historical Society’s museum located at 4127 18th Street in the Castro District. The museum is currently open to the public, allowing ten people at a time and with facemarks required.
The rainbow flag is a universal symbol of LGBTQ rights. #PrideTweet