=The Rainbow Flag of the LGBTQ Community= Use of the rainbow flag by the gay community began in 1978 when it first appeared in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. Borrowing symbolism from the hippie movement and black civil rights groups, San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag in response to a need for a symbol that could be used year after year. Baker and 30 volunteers hand-stitched and hand-dyed two huge prototype flags for the parade. The flags had eight stripes, each colour representing a component of the community: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit. The next year Baker approached San Francisco Paramount Flag Company to mass-produce rainbow flags for the 1979 parade. Due to production constraints - such as the fact that hot pink was not a commercially available colour - pink and turquoise were removed from the design, and royal blue replaced indigo. This six-colour version spread from San Francisco to other cities, and soon became the widely-known symbol of gay pride and diversity it is today. It is officially recognised by the International Congress of Flag Makers. In 1994, a huge 30-foot-wide by one-mile-long rainbow flag was carried by 10,000 people in New York`s Stonewall 25 Parade. =Why the Rainbow?= In every ancient culture, the rainbow has featured variously as a god/goddess in its own right, a symbol of the unity of the world or, in the case of Christianity, God’s promise of safety to humanity. Here are just a few of the forms these references take: ==Greek mythology== Iris is the Greek goddess of the rainbow, a daughter of the Titans, and cousin of Zeus. She is a multiple image, in effect, being a messenger to Zeus and his wife Hera, to worthy and beloved mortals, and, like the Norse Valkyries, conveyor of the souls of the dead (women only in Iris’ case) to the blessed Elysian Fields. As with Christianity, due to her love for humanity and care of the wounded, her appearance in the sky was always taken as a sign of hope. ==Buddhism== Some Buddhists believe the seven colours of the rainbow relate to the seven planets and seven regions of the earth. They also say the rainbow is the highest state of samsara before the clear light of Nirvana or heaven. ==Islam== In Arabia, the rainbow is a tapestry draped by the hands of the south wind. It is also called Allah‘s bow. In Islam, the rainbow is made up of four colours: red, yellow, green and blue, related to the four elements. ==Hinduism== In myths of India the Goddess Indra also carries a rainbow, known as Indra`s bow or weapon. A part of the Indian creation myth says the Gods created an ocean of milk from which all living forms emerged. Airavata, a sacred milk white elephant, whose name means ‘rainbow’, was one of the first creatures born from the milk. ==Judaism== ‘Nehirim’ is a word found in the Talmud and the Zohar, and refers to the radiant colours of the rainbow and the sky. It represents not only the spectrum of queer sexual identities, as does the popular rainbow symbol, but the spiritual essences of those constituent parts as well. Nehirim is founded on the core mystical principle that ‘You Are That’, that we are nothing but God, nothing but Light refracted in an infinite number of unique ways. In that context, identifying ourselves with the lights of the rainbow, rather than the rainbow as a form itself, is an important reminder that both form and emptiness are the nature of the One. Moreover, as the obscure term ‘nehirim’ is found in Jewish mysticism, it is a site for LGBTetc. Jews to claim suppressed parts of the Jewish tradition as they articulate their own identities today. (From http://www.glbtjews.org/article.php3?id_article=212) ==Christianity== Apart from being the symbol of the reconciliation between God and humanity, it also retains references of the ancient Greek belief. With echoes of the Iris myth, it’s sometimes viewed as the Virgin Mary bringing heaven and earth in harmony. [[Category:Definitions]]
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