The rainbow flag has been a symbol of the queer community since the 1970s. But where did it come from? Why was it chosen to have a multicolored flag in the first place?
And what happened to the man who dreamed of a symbol of unity for homosexuals?
In 1978, a man named Harvey Milk asked his friend, artist Gilbert Baker, to design a symbol for the gay community. He found the absence of such a symbol shocking and decided to display it for the first time at the Gay Freedom Pride march which was to be held in San Francisco that same summer.
Milk was the first publicly elected openly gay politician in California. He sits on what might be called, in the American system of government, the San Francisco City Council.
He was at the forefront of the party in the fight for gay human rights.
Baker was also a strong advocate for the queer community, a former soldier, and an artist. He has already started designing a flag with eight colors, each with a specific meaning. Pink stood for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, teal for magic, blue for peace, and purple for courage.
Gilbert Baker died in 2017
Why Baker chose these exact colors to create a rainbow flag is unknown, but many say the flag was a tribute to actress and singer Judy Garland, who was one of the first superstars in the world of gay men. Her most famous song was Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which she performed in the movie The Wizard of Oz. Others say Baker was fascinated by the multicolored flags that decorated the dormitories of many universities in the 1960s and 1970s, which interpreted them as world peace and human rights.
The flag was immediately welcomed and it was flown in the procession and elsewhere. But after a terrible tragedy, her popularity skyrocketed.
Milk with Mayor Moscone.
On November 10, a man named Don White resigned from the San Francisco City Council, saying the salary was too low. A few days later, he changed his mind and wanted the chair back. George Moscone, the mayor at the time, initially agreed to White’s request, but then began to have second thoughts and informed White, who was deeply conservative, that he wanted someone more liberal on the council. municipal. Moscone himself was extremely liberal and had, among other things, played a major role in the legalization of homosexuality in California.
Mayor Moscone plans to announce White’s successor on Nov. 27. Half an hour earlier, White, furious that a gay friend was getting his status, crawled through a basement window to avoid metal detectors, walked to Moscone’s office and shot him. bullet in the shoulder and chest. He ended up shooting the mayor twice in the head. He then walked to his old office and loaded his gun. As he advanced, White encountered Milk, a man he also hated because of his homosexuality, and shot him five times, two of them in the head. Harvey Milk died instantly.
Mascone was 49, Milk 48.
The killings sparked outrage and centuries of protests began.
A city divided
The murders caused enormous public outrage, but also increased tension in the town between conservative Catholics of Irish descent on the one hand and more liberal ones on the other. This group included San Francisco’s growing gay community.
The assassination of the flag’s originator skyrocketed the flag’s popularity and became an international symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. People’s anger – and the flag’s popularity – did not diminish when White was only sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for two cold-blooded murders. Every member of the jury was from the Catholic community as well as the judge who noted that with good behavior White would be freed in five years, which he did.
The flag had become more than a symbol of gay people in the minds of many, it had become a symbol of justice and no longer just had gay people flying, straight people, liberals, buying the flag as if there was no had no tomorrow.
He, on the other hand, committed suicide only a year and a half later, a broken man who had lost his family, his friends, his job and his reputation.
The demand for the flag grew more and more and had now spread beyond the United States and even around the world. The eight stripes were reduced to six in order to reduce production costs, and so the pink and teal had to die off.
With this, the flag has become the international symbol that everyone knows, thanks to the initiative of Harvey Milk.
Harvey Milk’s Legacy
Harvey Milk is remembered in many ways. There are a number of streets and squares in the United States named after him and even a square in Paris. Part of the San Francisco terminal bears his name, school buildings and even a warship, the USNS Harvey Milk.
He was on Time magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Heroes of the 20th Century and has received numerous honors within the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2009, then-President of the United States Barack Obama honored Milk with the Declaration of Independence and his uncle, Stuart Milk, who is also a prominent human rights activist, was sworn in to his uncle’s name.
Sean Penn won an Oscar for his role as Harvey Milk.
Journalist Randy Shilts wrote a biography of Milk in 1982, after he was refused jobs everywhere because of his homosexuality. But the book was a success and was made into a documentary film based on it, which won an Oscar in 1984.
There has been a musical about Milk’s life, an opera, a cantata written about him, a children’s coloring book and a novel for teenagers, also based on Milk’s life, published in France.
A film simply called Milk was released in 2008 directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn as Milk and Josh Brolin as Dan White. Van Sant sought out people who had known Milk and cast them in small roles in the film.
The film won two Oscars and, among other things, Penn received the coveted Golden Man for his excellent portrayal of Milk.
Gilbert Blake died in 2017 at the age of 65.
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