There is a war brewing in San Francisco over one of the most, if not the most iconic symbol to the LGBT community. Gilbert Baker’s LGBT Rainbow Pride flag. A small number of very vocal queer activist are calling for it’s removal from Harvey Milk Memorial Plaza in San Francisco and that it be replaced by the new “Progressive Pride flag”
“The flag for some Black and brown people, they don’t feel it represents them,” says Carnell Freeman, executive co-chair of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District. “But I think it depends on who you’re talking to. For many white gays, they’ll say they think the Progress Flag is not attractive and that they’d keep it as it is, as a rainbow. If you talk to most people of color or allies, they will say, you know, it’s time for a change.”
For those of you who are unaware. Gilbert Baker designed the Gay Pride Flag in San Francisco in 1978 for the Gay Freedom Day Parade (now San Francisco Pride) at the request of Harvey Milk as a symbol of out hope, love, and freedom . Originally it featuring eight colors but simplified to six for easier reproduction, each stripe represents a value, including red for life, blue for harmony and peace and purple for spirit. Baker never trademarked the flag, believing it would flourish as a symbol for the community only if it were free to reproduce.
The Gilbert Baker Foundation, has started a Change.org petition of its own calling for the landmark designation of the pole, which was erected in 1997 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Milk’s historic victory as the first openly gay elected official in California history. It argues that the pole and the flag constitute a piece of installation art created by Baker that deserves to be protected. Cultural institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York have examples of Baker’s flag in their collections.. The petition has more than 6500 signatures. to date. (<– CLICK LINK to sign.)
“Hundreds of thousands of gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people in the United States died of AIDS while activists — many of whom themselves succumbed to the epidemic — fought, pleaded, lobbied, petitioned, marched, and protested (and continue to do so all over the world!) while carrying this flag and its predecessors, all designed by Gilbert Baker.” The Castro Merchants Association said in a press release issued last week.. Masood Samereie the president of the organization stated that “we would support any community effort to erect an additional flagpole or some other installation in a significant location in the neighborhood to fly flags that symbolize the diversity of our LGBTQ+ residents and visitors, and would use any influence we have with the city to push this through.
Many in the Castro neighborhood are saying they find the whole discourse around the issue is getting heated and they feared getting involved due to possible retaliation. A Castro resident and business owner, who asked to remain anonymous, described the situation as “the left eating its own.”
History, especially LGBT history should never be edited, fabricated or erased said gay activist, historian and Back2Stonewall website owner Will Kohler. In my opinion a second flagpole is the best option. “Our proud and brave historical past must be preserved. Only from the past can we learn to fight for our future.”
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.