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Rainbow Flag  
page: 1  2  

A similar dispute arose in 2000 in Gwinnett County, Georgia, when developers of a subdivision told a gay couple, Stace Duvall and Ed Graham, to remove their rainbow flag because it was not "in good taste." According to the Architectural Control Committee, the only flags in good taste were the American flag and the flag of the state of Georgia, formerly the symbol of the Confederacy.

Once the developers sold the last house in the subdivision and a homeowners' association was formed, Duvall and Graham resumed flying their rainbow flag and no one complained. Indeed, both men were elected to the association board.

The rainbow motif, whether in the form of a flag or not, has come to symbolize gay pride. In Traverse City, Michigan, in 2000, in the wake of a series of hate crimes including an attack on a worker at a gay bar, the city commission approved a bumper sticker with a rainbow pattern with stylized human figures resembling jigsaw-puzzle pieces and the motto "We are Traverse City."

The intention of the commissioners was to put some of the stickers on city vehicles and distribute the rest to citizens in order to promote unity. Instead they found themselves in the middle of a heated debate. Gay-rights groups praised the choice of the rainbow design, while opponents condemned it.

The commission eventually stopped distributing the stickers, removed those on official vehicles, and sold the remainder to a local civil rights advocacy group, Hate-Free TC, which made them available to the public.

The Rainbow Sash Movement

The rainbow has also been adopted by the Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM), a group of gay Catholics and their supporters. Founded in Australia in 1998, RSM, which now also has branches in England and the United States, is seeking a dialogue with Catholic leaders about the church's teachings regarding homosexuality. Members wear their rainbow sashes when seeking to receive communion during Mass.

In Melbourne, Australia, Westminster, England, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, sash-wearers have been refused the eucharist, but the dioceses of Rochester, New York, and St.Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota have welcomed RSM members.

The rainbow flag continues to be a powerful and popular symbol. It is used as part of the design of many products, including apparel, jewelry, decorative objects, and items for pets.

Linda Rapp

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social sciences >> Overview:  Miami and Key West

The site of contentious battles for glbtq rights, Miami is home to a vibrant glbtq community; as is Key West, which has a long tradition of celebrating diversity.

arts >> Overview:  Symbols

The various symbols of glbtq pride render marginalized communities visible and assert self-esteem in the face of discrimination and oppression.

arts >> Homomonument

Amsterdam's Homomonument is one of the world's foremost public memorials acknowledging the persecution endured by gay men and lesbians during World War II and throughout history.

social sciences >> Matlovich, Leonard P., Jr.

By challenging the United States Air Force's ban and gay and lesbian service members, Leonard P. Matlovich, Jr. became one of the glbtq community's most visible activists in the 1970s.

social sciences >> Pink Triangle

Originally a mark of criminalization and persecution under the Nazis, the pink triangle was later reclaimed by gays both as a memorial and as a celebration of sexual identity.


Baker, Gilbert, and John O'Brien. "The Prideful Story of Our Rainbow Flag." IGLA (International Gay & Lesbian Archives) Bulletin no. 10 (Spring-Summer 1994).

Butterbaugh, Laura, April Jackson, and Amy Branner. "Commemorating Stonewall: International March on the United Nations." off our backs 24.8. (September 30, 1994): 17.

DeGenaro, William. "Rainbow Flag." Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia. George E. Haggerty, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 733-734.

Flesher, John. "Traverse City Votes to Sell Controversial Stickers." South Bend (Indiana) Tribune (February 23, 2001): A2.

"Flown with Pride." Washington Times (June 22, 1999): A5.

Freiberg, Peter. "Rainbow Sash Group Works to Gain Acceptance." Washington (D.C.) Blade (September 7, 2001): 25.

Hartstein, Larry. "U.S. Flag Tests Subdivision; Flap in Gwinnett over Gay Banner." Atlanta Constitution (September 15, 2000): 12D

Hogan, Steve, and Lee Hudson, eds. "Rainbow Flag." Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia. New York: Henry Holt, 1998. 470-471.

Kotsopoulos, Nick. "Gay Pride Display Scorned." Worcester (Massachusetts) Telegram & Gazette (June 3, 1999): B1.

Jones, Welton. "Raising a Rainbow up the Flagpole." San Diego Union-Tribune (November 27, 2000): E5.

Malnic, Eric. "Out-of-Court Settlement Reached in Battle over Gay Pride Flag." Los Angeles Times (December 21, 1988): Part 2, 3.

Mayhood, Kevin. "Man Guilty of Tearing Down Flag." Columbus Dispatch (February 17, 2000): 1C.

_____. "Woman Fined, Given Probation for Burning Gay-Pride Flag." Columbus Dispatch (March 15, 2000): 3F.

"Rainbow Flag Fiasco Could Send Maine Official Flying." The Advocate 771 (October 27, 1998): 18.

Russell, Ron. "Removal of 'Gay Pride' Flag Ordered: Tenant Suit Accuses Apartment Owner of Bias." Los Angeles Times (December 8, 1988): Part 9, 6.

Smith, Leef. "Politics of Pumpkin Picking." Washington Post (October 12, 2000): B1.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Rainbow Flag  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated January 28, 2007  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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