The Original 1978 Rainbow Flag

It made me so happy to see the original 1978 rainbow flag today in the Castro. ❤️

“In April 2021, the GLBT Historical Society received an archival donation of an extraordinary, unique piece of history that we are unveiling during the Pride season: a fragment of one of the two monumental rainbow flags first raised on June 25, 1978 in San Francisco’s United Nations Plaza at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. Displaying the original design’s eight colored stripes, it was created by Gilbert Baker and hand-stitched and dyed with the help of volunteers and friends, including Lynn Segerblom (Faerie Argyle Rainbow), James McNamara, Glenne McElhinney, Joe Duran and Paul Langlotz. Thought to have been lost for over 40 years, the fragment, shown above, was recently rediscovered and is the only known surviving remnant of the two inaugural rainbow flags. Gilbert Baker arrived in San Francisco in 1972 during the early years of the Gay Liberation movement. He quickly became well known for his sewing skills and flamboyant creations, such as drag costumes and political banners for street demonstrations. In 1978, while preparing for that year’s Gay Freedom Day celebration, City Supervisor Harvey Milk (1930–1978) and other local activists appealed to Baker, the co-chair of the Decorations Committee, to create a new symbol for the LGBTQ community to be unveiled at the event in June. Using color to establish meaning, Baker conceived a flag that would empower his “tribe” and a “rainbow of humanity” motif to represent the community’s diversity. He assigned symbolic meaning to each of the flag’s eight colored stripes, see below.”

Smiles and Spanks,