Pride… ever wondered what is the deal with the flag?

Ever wondered where the Pride rainbow flag comes from and it means?
04 July 2024

This coming July Luxembourg celebrates Pride Week (6 – 14 July) read more here … but have you ever wondered, why a rainbow flag?

The colors

A rainbow traditionally has seven colors: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, but the LGBTQ+ flag has six – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

Harvey Milk – the then San Francisco city supervisor and first openly gay elected official in California urged the artist and activist Gilbert Baker to create a symbol of pride for the gay community back in 1978. Baker, together with other volunteer members of the 1978 San Francisco Pride Parade decorations committee, Lynn Segerblom and James McNamara developed the first version of the flag which included 8 colors.     

The flag was intended to represent the diverse nature of the LGBTQ+ community, and the team saw the rainbow as a natural symbol of inclusion, beauty, and harmony, capable of encompassing the wide spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations.

The first version of the flag featured eight colors, each representing different aspects of the human experience: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic/art, indigo for serenity, and violet for spirit.

However, due to issues with the availability of certain fabrics, the hot pink and turquoise stripes were removed, leaving the six-color version that is still widely recognized today.

Each color retained symbolic meaning:

  • Red for life
  • Orange for healing
  • Yellow for sunlight
  • Green for nature
  • Blue for harmony, and
  • Violet for spirit

This version with the six colors helped standardize the flag’s design, making it easier to reproduce and more accessible for widespread use.

An emblem of solidarity

The rainbow flag quickly gained traction as a symbol for LGBTQ+ pride and rights. Its visibility grew significantly during the 1980s and 1990s as it was adopted by various LGBTQ+ organizations, events, and protests worldwide. Major cities also began to incorporate the rainbow flag into their own pride celebrations, further cementing its status as an emblem of solidarity and visibility for LGBTQ+ individuals.

 The flag’s inclusive nature and vibrant colors resonated with a broad audience, helping to unify the LGBTQ+ community under a single, easily recognizable symbol.

Baker argued that the flag is fit for its mission – it symbolizes proclaiming visibility, showcasing the truth – “this is who I am”, and not living a lie.

Today, the rainbow flag is an enduring symbol of LGBTQ+ pride, equality, and resistance against discrimination. When you see the flag in public spaces, be reminded that it signals a commitment to inclusion and acceptance, making it a powerful tool for raising awareness and fostering a sense of belonging.


Gonzalez, N. (2017). “How Did the Rainbow Flag Become a Symbol of LGBTQ Pride?”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 Jun. 2017, Accessed June 2024.

Tang, GVGK. (2021). “Where did the rainbow flag come from anyway?”, 8 Jun. 2021, Accessed June 2024.