This is the time of year when LGBT communities around the world celebrate Gay Pride. The UK Pride season is back in a big way for 2024 with more than 250 events expected to be held this year. OutUK has compiled a comprehensive listing of all the UK Pride Events.

A big part of any Pride Event is the waving of a Pride Flag, but nowadays there are just so many of them to choose from. The June/July period, has always been the busiest time of year for Pride events, which honour the Stonewall Riots that occurred in 1969 in New York. It was the first time gay people fought back physically against police harassment and entrapment. The riots involved 300 gay men, lesbians, and drag queens and it sparked the modern LGBT equality movement throughout the world, bringing LGBT people together like never before.

But what about the Flag itself? Where did that come from? One of the most famous American civil rights leaders of the 1970's was the San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk who asked artist and designer Gilbert Baker to create a symbol for the gay rights movement. Gilbert was a Kansas born army medic who had been posted to San Francisco on assignment and remained there after his service ended in 1972. He became a well known figure in the city, and a quite famous Drag Queen.

In the attic of the San Francisco Gay Community Center, Gilbert and some of his friends who were all volunteers carefully filled trash cans with rainbow-colored dye and created the first flags of the Pride movement. They chose strips of fabric in 8 different colors, each of which had a distinct meaning.

Gilbert Baker Flag (Vector graphics by Fibonacci)
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
  • Hot pink for sex

  • Red for life

  • Orange for healing

  • Yellow for sunlight

  • Green for nature

  • Turquoise for art

  • Indigo for harmony

  • Violet for spirit
There were a number of production issues with the original design of the flag, and it was decided to reduce the number of colours, losing the hot pink and turquoise, and then replacing indigo with a more straightforward blue, retaining its representation of harmony. The final flag had been completed with its recognisable six colours. He referred to this design as the "commercial version", because it came about due to practical considerations of mass production.

It seems incredible to be believe now, but the Pride flag was not officially recognised until Gilbert created a mile-long version of it on the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It was 1994 and Gilbert Baker had moved to New York City, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Gilbert continued his creative work and activism and produced what was at the time, the world's largest flag and since then it has been used as a symbol for Pride in the LGBTQIA+ community all around the world.

On its creation Gilbert said at the time, "Our job as gay people was to come out, to be visible, to live in the truth, as I say, to get out of the lie." He later added, "A flag really fits that mission, because that's a way of proclaiming your visibility or saying, 'This is who I am!'".

Gilbert Baker died at home in his sleep on 31 March 2017 at the age of 65, in New York City. His flag however, lives on in tribute.

Gilbert_Baker - Photo: Gareth Watkins
CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The modern day Pride flag aims to be more inclusive, most notably the more modern iteration, created by Daniel Quasar in 2018, called the Progress Pride Flag. In addition to the rainbow stripes it includes black and brown stripes in a chevron shape to represent queer people of color, those we've lost to HIV/AIDS, and those currently living with AIDS. In that same chevron shape there are light blue, pink, and white stripes to represent the trans community.
Many variations of the rainbow flag now exist, including ones incorporating other LGBT symbols like the triangle or lambda. Designers have incorporated national flags such as a the pink Union Jack, additional colours to represent different sexualities and symbols for lipstick, love, leather, bears and the Jewish Star of David.

According to Daniel Quasar, the chevron itself represents forward movement, meant to emphasize the parts of the community that need to look to the future. A newer version of the Progress Pride Flag, designed by Valentino Vecchietti, was announced in June 2021. It then included a yellow triangle and purple circle inside of the chevron shape to represent the intersex community.

Photo: Man Alive!
CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
There are bound to be new versions of the Pride Flag developed in the future, each of which specifically represent different identities in the LGBTQIA+ community. Some of the most widely used Pride Flags so far include:

Versions of the original Pride Flag
CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Whether you live in a big city or in a rural part of the country, and whether you have a large celebration or a small act of defiance, make sure that you get out there and show your Pride, and take your favourite flag with you! It's important.


The Progress Pride Flag
created by Daniel Quasar
OutUK has several other features which celebrate our Pride including:
  • 2024 Pride Events around the UK
  • Why celebrating Pride is important
  • Should you consider a Pride tattoo?
  • Enjoying cartoons that celebrate Pride

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