On this day in 1978, San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker debuted the rainbow flag which he had created for the city’s Gay Freedom Day parade. The original, manually-sewn flag consisted of eight colored stripes. But when the flag proved popular—and people wanted to purchase one for themselves—Baker reduced the number of colors to six. Removing the pink and turquoise stripes was a concession to modern flag-production practicalities.
Though today’s rainbow flag is closely-identified with the modern gay liberation movement, its history as a symbol of inclusion, diversity or hope goes back at least 500 years. In the 1500’s German preacher and social reformer Thomas Müntzer was associated with the rainbow flag and was painted and sculpted holding one. During the American Revolution, Thomas Paine proposed that a rainbow flag be flown to identify neutral ships. Nineteenth century Buddhists had a rainbow flag and, in the 1920’s, the flag was used in India and Peru (in fact, it is still the city flag of Cusco). The 1960’s Italian peace movement adopted the rainbow flag and it can still be seen flying from Italian balconies, bearing the word “Pace.”
The Stonewall Riots took place in New York City in late June of 1969; as a result, the month of June is observed as Gay Pride month, when rainbow flags proliferate wherever openly-gay people can be found.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248
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