The Colorful History of the Rainbow Flag

Baker in Ireland in 2014. Courtesy of Gilbert Baker

The rainbow flag was created by San Francisco–based queer artist Gilbert Baker in 1978. He met politician Harvey Milk, who recognized his adept sewing skills and the strong political messaging behind his work. Baker began making political banners for the protest marches Milk organized in San Francisco—and he was commissioned to create the rainbow flag for just $1,000.

There have been several versions of the flag. The six-stripe pride flag was established in 1979 with the following colors: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for harmony, and purple for spirit.

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