What do you think of when you see a rainbow? Do you feel delighted? Suddenly happier? Mad that it may start raining cats and dogs in a while and you forgot your umbrella?
Depending on our actual mood and overall life values, one may feel not only pleasure when seeing a gorgeous harmony of colours but a deeper meaning such as a symbol of membership. In February we celebrate LGBT History Month and therefore let me introduce you a magical connection between rainbows and this community!
When rainbow connects
It all goes back to 1978 and two men who started writing this story. The first rainbow flag was designed by Gilbert Baker, an army veteran and enthusiastic gay activist. He was asked to do so by Harvey Milk, a gay city politician who frankly supported the Gay Freedom Pride Parade taking place in San Francisco that year.
Until 1970s, the most common image connected with gay rights movement was a pink triangle. It was a symbol used by Nazis to identify homosexuals. Baker went nuts imagining connection of community with such painful past. He felt that a flag would naturally act as a symbol of pride and bring a sense of belonging to next level.
And he could not be more right. Luck comes to a brave one, they sometimes say, and this was certainly his case. Iconic rainbow became popular rapidly and people proudly waved with a colourful flag. Finally, in 1994 it was officially established as a symbol of LGBT pride and since then people all around the world see hope for a better future in this combination of intense colours.
Diving deeper into colours
For Baker himself rainbow means diversity which the community brings. People perceive the brightness of colours the same way no matter the gender, race, or ethnicity. It encourages them not to hide but stand confidently, feeling like a part of something.
The rainbow flag originally consisted of eight colours. Wherever you are, close your eyes and try to identify what the colours mean for you.
Here are the original meanings: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit. How close to your guesses?
The author’s intention was to make the flag as accessible as possible. Given that colour-printing was pricey, the number of colours narrowed down to six.
The usage of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet on the flag remained the same until today and is used all around the world. We see activists of all ages being wrapped up in huge flags marching down the streets with smiles on their faces.
How can you be a rainbow for someone?
The story about George Baker’s idea brought about a noteworthy achievement in history which still lasts today. A simple but effective connection which rainbows create among people is unique. Each colour brings extraordinariness and metaphorically interpretates life.
And what about you?
No matter what rainbows mean for you, think of the power which it brings to people. Do not be afraid to accept or offer a holding hand if you feel like doing so and let the colours guide you.
In the end, we are all under the same rainbow!
For information on support and services available to LGBTQI+ students at the University of Aberdeen please visit our Support and Wellbeing pages.