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The Hues of Revolution

Making its debut in 1978, the pride flag was first flown in San Francisco, thanks to Gilbert Baker. Pour yourself a cup of pride and let us muse on the hues of the LGBTQ+ revolution and movement.

Born in Parsons, Kansas, Baker was a proud gay rights activist. After his honourable military discharge, he started working more closely in the activism field - this journey started by learning how to sow. The art of sowing became his weapon of choice. He used his craft to create banners in LGBTQ+ rights and anti-war marches. Fun fact, he also designed a display for the King of Spain.


Enter Harvey Milk and The Sisters.


Milk and Baker became acquainted through the gay drag activism group, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI)...


<-- OPEN SIDE NOTE


Before we proceed, let’s talk about SPI. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence started off in the Castro district of San Fran but are now internationally established. Their marches and protests are among the most unique and sensational. They use drag and religious imagery to illustrate intolerances and discrimination against their community.


Their first march was most impressionable when the group dressed up as nuns but added a camp twist. They used extravagant makeup while keeping their beards. Essentially, they wanted to play with gender roles. At the time, the "Typical San Francisco Man" looked a lot like John Wayne from Rio Bravo featuring Richard Burke’s moustache from Friends very macho manly-man-esque. SPI challenged this look by keeping their 'staches while wearing a nuns outfit. Calling it iconic would be an understatement. Today, the group works as a charity, educational resource, and activist group for the LGBTQ community.



CLOSE SIDE NOTE -->


Milk and Baker became acquainted through the gay drag activism group, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI). After Baker's leave from the group, he recognized a need for an LGBTQ+ symbol the rainbow. He wanted something colourful as his community had experienced such a dark and difficult past. In any case, he started stitching and hand-dying the flag. With 30 volunteers, Baker had created an 8 colour flag featuring:


Hot pink - Sex

Red - Life

Orange - Healing

Yellow - Sunlight

Green - Nature

Turquoise Magic/Art

Indigo - Serenity

Violet - Spirit


He proudly hung 2 of them at the San Francisco Civic Center. Now, what does any of this have to do with Harvey Milk?


Harvey Milk was a politician on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Actually, to be more specific he was the most supportive politician of the LGBTQ movement. As you can imagine, in heteronormative America, he was not popular among his peers. However, he was very popular with the citizens of Castro.


During his 11 months in office, he helped with many advancements but most notably, along with Goerge Moscone, he implemented a bill banning discrimination against sexual orientation in public accommodations, housing, and employment. Sadly, Moscone and Milk were assassinated by Dan White. Long story short, White continuously butted heads with Moscone and Milk, so he killed the pair.


So, White murdered 2 men with intent. That is first-degree murder, right?


Apparently not. The heteronormative court of America agreed with Blinder and sentenced White to 7 years for voluntary manslaughter (of which, he only served 5). The charge didn't escalate to first-degree murder because his defence was of diminished responsibility. In other words, a psychiatrist deemed him unfit due to mental instability.


This sounds like a valid defence until you hear the psychiatrist's testimony. He essentially said White eats way too much junk food to be of sound mind.


Understandably, the murders of LGBTQ+ allies and the trial sparked outrage in Castro and correspondingly, demand for unity and the rainbow flag increased. The Paramount Flag Company & Baker quickly ran out of hot pink fabric and drooped it, leaving a 7 coloured flag.


In 1979, the flag lost another colour during the San Francisco parade. The organizers wanted to split the flag into 2 equal parts, for decorative purposes but needed an even number to do so. Turquoise was bid adieu, leaving 6 colours:


Red - Life

Orange - Healing

Yellow - Sunlight

Green - Nature

Blue - Serenity

Violet - Spirit


Throughout the years, the rainbow has been a symbol of new baggings, hope and prosperity. Whether it be in Peru or Germany, almost every country around the globe dignifies this symbol through art, religion and culture. In fact, the LGBTQ+ community has taken its flag to the next level by associating a particular flag with each letter of its acronym, LGBTQQIP2SAA.


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