Why Our Pride Flag Has So Many Colors

The rainbow colors on the Pride flag have long been a source of identity for the GLBTQ community. But, where did it come from?

Designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, the Pride flag was created in San Francisco as a symbol for the GLBTQ community. There’s a legend that he was inspired by Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow,” but it is more likely that he was inspired by the radical San Francisco hippie culture of the time.

The flag has gone through many revisions, including the removal and adding of colors, and currently has six stripes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

What the Colors Mean

The original flag actually had 8 stripes and each color had a meaning:

  • Hot pink for sex
  • Red for life
  • Orange for healing
  • Yellow for sunlight
  • Green for nature
  • Turquoise for art
  • Indigo for harmony
  • Violet for spirit

These were the central elements of the GLBTQ community that were met with pride and distinction. The eight striped flag first flew at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade in 1978.

How the Pride Flag Has Changed

The changes to the flag were mostly practical. The symbol of the flag itself was extremely popular, but it was difficult to find hot pink fabric at the time. That’s why the top, hot pink stripe was dropped.

The next stripe to drop was Turquoise, mostly because the stripe was often eclipsed by flag posts. This design flaw prevented people from seeing the full range of colors in all of their beauty. With six stripes, one can always see all six colors at the same time, without obstruction from the flagpole.

What It Means to Our Community

For many, the meaning behind the colors matters less than the bright, beautiful mix of colors on our Pride flag. It’s about celebrating the diversity of our community, every shade of the rainbow.