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The history of the Pride flag

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On June 4th 2021, a piece of LGBTQIA+ history that we thought was long lost resurfaced: the original rainbow pride flag that was first raised on June 25, 1978 in San Francisco’s United Nations Plaza. The Gilbert Baker Foundation uncovered this priceless artifact in 2019 and donated it to the GLBT Historical Society of San Francisco to make it accessible to all.  Today, 43 years after the flag was first raised, we are partnering with Google Arts & Culture - along with 12 other cultural institutions - to make stories about this iconic rainbow flag available to anyone, anywhere in the world. 

As part of the “Beyond the Rainbow'' hub, everyone can dive back into the history of the LGBTQIA+ movement through the colors of the iconic Pride flag whose design and many iterations led it to become a symbol that would represent the full spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ community and carry the memory of the fights for LGBTQIA+ rights and a better representation of all the LGBTQIA+ identities around the world, until today. 

You will learn how, created in 1978 by Gilbert Baker with a team of artists under the impulsion of Harvey Milk’s iconic speech, the original flag displayed 8 colors and for each, a specific meaning. For example Red represents Life, Orange means Healing, and Pink represents Sex.

Queer British writer, Jake Hall, author of "The Art of Drag," will further explain each detail you need to know about the different Pride flags and the communities they represent - including the Bisexual Pride flag and Trans Pride flag,  while the artist Rigel Gemini’ shares his reflection about what it means to be a non-binary mixed artist in the music industry.

We at the GLBT Historical Society hope that these online resources will help everyone in the world better understand the historical significance of the rainbow flag and feel welcome to see it in real life within our walls in San Francisco!

  • A person arranging a colorful flag hanging from a pole

    Volunteers hoist one of the two original rainbow flags created for San Francisco Gay

  • A rainbow with words associated to each color

    Graphic with the flag's symbolism

  • A group of people marching along a street carrying a colorful flag over their heads

    Gilbert Baker wearing a white sequined dress (right)

  • A person dressed in red standing under 2 colorful flags that flow in the wind

    The two original eight-color rainbow flags flying at United Nations Plaza during San Francisco Gay Freedom Day 1978

  • An eight-color segment handing in a warehouse

    Segment of one of the original eight-color rainbow flags.

  • Bird perspective on a New York City street through which people are marching with a sevel-block long pride flag

    The mile-long rainbow flag being carried down First Avenue in New York City

Want to learn more? Visit, or download Google Arts & Culture’s Android or iOS app. Happy Pride to everyone!

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