Nearly 40 years ago, when the first gay pride flag was unfurled at San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade, the rainbow of colors became an instant symbol of a community.
But the recent addition of two colors in a Philadelphia celebration has sparked controversy within the LGBTQ community.
The six colors of the flag, as designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker, were intended to inspire unity. During festivities in Philadelphia, a pride flag was unveiled that included the colors black and brown. And that has people talking.
"The gay flag is supposed to be a rainbow of inclusiveness," Marina Coleridge said. "There’s not a white band on it, so why do we need a black and brown band on it?"
"When it comes to our own community, we’re in these bubbles and these boxes, and we don’t want to, I think, confront that issue," added Darrell McElvana.
The flag was first commissioned by San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.
Baker died just a few months ago, so the controversy comes at an interesting time for some of his close friends, including activist and author Cleve Jones, who addressed the issue by tweeting an alternative design for an even more defiant flag.
"I wish they would have created something more beautiful that honors our history and the black and Chicano power movements of the '70s," Jones said by phone.
Jones said Baker originally designed the flag with more colors, and he welcomed all kinds of variations.
"He started the flag with more than just the six colors that we have now so, you know, the idea was to put even more colors out there," said Nichole Ostrowski.
For many, inclusion within the gay community is a conversation that’s long overdue. Adding two colors to a flag may not be a solution to that problem, but it might be a start.