The History of the Pride Flag

By Jacob Rosneck, Medical Social Worker, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea

June is Pride month. A time to celebrate the movement, culture and triumphs of our LGBT friends and colleagues. Pride is celebrated in June as a commemoration to honor the Stonewall riots of New York City in 1969, an event that many consider to be the beginning of the LGBT rights revolution. Throughout the month and across the country, major cities organize elaborate parades, filled with diverse, and accepting people proudly waving every size rainbow flag imaginable. These flags serve as beacons of courage for all who fought bravely, who paved the way for LGBT equality in the United States.  You may find these flags displayed outside various establishments, signaling that you are in a safe space and among allies, free from judgement or danger.

While most of us are aware of the flag as a symbol, one may be less aware that each color has a special meaning behind it.  There have been several variations of this flag created throughout the years. More recently there are about as many different versions of the flag as there are sexual orientation & gender identities.

The original flag was fashioned in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, of San Francisco. The six colors that he used are the same six you would find in a rainbow.

The Red is a symbol of life

The orange is a symbol for healing

Yellow represents the sun

Green for nature

Royal Blue means harmony

And Violet to represent spirit

Each color alone may carry a simpler meaning, yet together they form a vibrant rainbow, as a flag flying proudly with a history that illustrates the tenacity of the human spirit.

So, throughout this month, I invite you to search for the flags, and when you see one, may it be a subtle reminder of the hope, alliance and solidarity amongst all who find meaning.