Today is National Coming Out Day, an international day which should contribute to peoples awareness of gay and lesbian people. Symbol of this day is the Rainbow Flag. The flag, containing the diverse colors of the rainbow, is mainly associated with the gay community. Each gay bar, gay (friendly) hotel or gay club show the flag is a symbol of tolerance. What most peaople don’t know is that the flag orginially had nothing to do with being gay.
The rainbow flag is used in the Christian Bible, when God shows the flag to Noah, to show him that there will never be a flood like the one they have just suffered from. Off course we can debate about the veracity of the bible. (EDIT: see this comment)
More conclusive is the use as the flag by the international cooperative movement in the thirties. Charles Gide, a French professor, suggested that the colors of the rainbow flag should be used as a symbol of the diversity and supporting the slogan Unity by Diversity. ICA Coop is still using the flag colors in there logo.
By the late sixties the flag was used by the international peace movement. It was referred by as the Peace Flag.
It was not before the late eighties that the Gay community adopted the flag. Besides the historical meanings of peace, diversity and liberty they added the ‘happiness’ factor to the image of the flag. Today0 the flag is associated with happy, joyful, sparkling gay people. Which in some way is just maintains a stereotype that we should have get rid of.
But today, on International Coming Out Day, we all just confirm once again the enormous fantastic happiness factor of the Gay Community, without ever thinking about all the other things that are embedded in just a couple of colored stripes.