The Pink Triangle may be a byproduct of the Holocaust, but San Francisco on Saturday will light up its iconic installation with 150 rainbow-colored kisses, effectively turning its symbolism on its head.
“We’ve totally flipped the meaning of the Pink Triangle – it’s about love and not death,” said co-founder Patrick Carney.
Obscura Digital, known for projecting lights on the Conservatory of Flowers for Summer of Love and on the Empire State Building to raise awareness about animal extinction, will help give San Francisco’s beloved homage to the LGBTQ community a real smacker during Pride 2017.
“We’ve photographed hundreds of people blowing kisses so it’s going to be kisses to the world from the Pink Triangle,” said Carney, visibly excited about the project known as “Kisses from San Francisco.”
The much-awaited light show on the Pink Triangle will be visible from nightfall through 2 a.m., said Obscura Digital.
A week that was marked by a record-breaking heat wave gave way to an overcast and gloomy Saturday, but that didn’t stop nearly 200 volunteers from flocking to the north hill of Twin Peaks.
Blanketed by Karl the Fog, they helped set up the iconic Pink Triangle, which every year honors gay people who were persecuted and slain in Nazi Germany during World War II.
“They had a series of triangles for their undesirables and pink was for the gays,” Carney said.
The Rainbow Flag was created in 1978 by artist Gilbert Baker when then-San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk asked his friend to use his skills to make banners for gay and anti-war street protests.
The bright colors have since become synonymous with the gay rights movement. Carney described the Rainbow Flag as “entirely new and beautiful and wonderful.”
In contrast, he said, “The Pink Triangle has a tragic history and part of acknowledging and celebrating where we are for 2017 is remembering where we’ve been.”
Seeking to add a pop of color to San Francisco’s Pride Parade, Carney remembered looking up at Twin Peaks over 22 years ago and seeing a “big, blank canvas.”
So Carney and a friend went out and bought tarp and paint. With the help of eight others, they painted it bright pink “in the dark of the night so we wouldn’t be arrested.”
Fast forward to 2017 and San Francisco police officers and elected officials were on hand to help construct the one-acre Pink Triangle, which features 175 pink tarps that are held in place with 5,000 12-inch long steel spikes.
Carney said that he didn’t expect his “renegade project” to last more than a year or two. However, after ealizing that people didn’t know the meaning or importance of the Pink Triangle, Carney came up with the idea of a yearly ceremony.
Educating people enabled the movement to pick up steam. Decades later, the Pink Triangle continues to resonate.
“Especially in this administration, we’re not sure what’s going to happen with our rights,” Carney admitted. “We’ve had a lot of gains in recent years, but in some states they’re trying to roll back or ignore those gains.”
This year, he said, the Pink Triangle symbolizes resistance from its perch on the highest point of San Francisco, which can be seen for 20 miles away on a clear day, according to Carney.
It’s “barrels of fun,” Carney said.
The Pink Triangle will overlook downtown San Francisco and the Castro district through Sunday evening. Volunteers are needed to break it down between 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. More information is available online.