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The Story Behind The Rainbow Flag

The colorful flag is used as a symbol of the LGBT community in nearly every corner of the globe, but it all started in San Francisco, CA.

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You can thank Gilbert Baker:

After teaching himself to sew, he created banners for gay-rights marches and rallies while living in San Francisco during the '70s. In 1979 he began work at Paramount Flag Company. Baker was commissioned by the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade in response to a need for a symbol that could be used over and over.


The first time the rainbow flag was used publicly was in 1978, at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade:

The Associated Press / AP

Baker and thirty volunteers hand-stitched and hand-dyed two huge flags for the parade. After the assassination of openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk in November of that year, demand for the rainbow flags skyrocketed.


In 1988, the rainbow flag came gained national attention in the U.S. after a man named John Stout sued his landlord for not allowing him to display the flag from his West Hollywood apartment.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

He won the case. Stout said afterwords, "This means I can continue with my life style; that I can express myself freely whenever I want to."

Listen to Gilbert discuss his rainbow flag:

View this video on YouTube
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