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Rainbow Flag or 'Freedom' Flag - origin, 1978

November 1978

The first Gay was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco artist, who created the flag in response to a local activist's call for the need of a community symbol. (This was before the was popularly used as a symbol of pride.)

The design may have been influenced by flags with multi-coloured stripes used by various left-wing causes and organizations in the San Francisco area in the 1960s. The originally had eight stripes (from top to bottom: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for serenity with nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit). Baker dyed and sewed the material for the first flag himself - in the true spirit of Betsy Ross. Handmade versions of this flag were flown in the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade.

Baker soon approached San Francisco's Paramount Flag Company about mass producing and selling his "gay flag". Unfortunately, Baker had hand-dyed all the colors, and since the color "hot pink" was not commercially available, mass production of his eight-striped version became impossible. The flag was thus reduced to seven stripes.

In November 1978, San Francisco's gay community was stunned when the city's first openly gay supervisor, , was assassinated, Wishing to demonstrate the gay community's strength and solidarity in the aftermath of this tragedy, the 1979 Pride Parade Committee decided to use Baker's flag. The committee eliminated the indigo stripe so they could divide the colours evenly along the parade route - three colours on one side of the street and three on the other. Soon the six colours were incorporated into a six-striped version that became popularized and that, today, is recognized by the International Congress of Flag Makers.

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