The rainbow flag is a symbol of gay pride, as opposed to gay liberation, which used the pink triangle on various colored fields.
Jim Ferrigan, 14 Feb 2003
The plain 6 stripes does seem to be the flag of choice over the world and probably so for a simple reason of recognition: the flag is often use to mark gay friendly (and in some place, gay safe) establishment so you want to be sure that your target clientele will recognise you.
Marc Pasquin, 26 Oct 2004
The rainbow flag has become the easily-recognized colors of pride for the gay community. The multicultural symbolism of the rainbow is nothing new and it plays a part in many myths and stories related to gender and sexuality issues in Greek, Native American, African, and other cultures.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001
The flag was originally created in 1978 with eight colors, but pink and turquoise were removed for production purposes, and since 1979 it has consisted of six colored stripes. It is most commonly flown with the red stripe on top, as the colors appear in a natural rainbow. Aside from the obvious symbolism of a mixed LGBT community the colors were designed to symbolize: life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), harmony (blue), and spirit (purple/violet). The removed colors stood for sexuality (pink) and art/magic (turquoise).
In 1989, the rainbow flag received nationwide attention after John Stout successfully sued his landlords in West Hollywood, when they prohibited him from displaying the flag from his apartment balcony. Meanwhile, Baker is still in San Francisco, and still making more flags.
In San Francisco, the Rainbow Flag is everywhere: it can be seen hanging from apartment windows throughout the city (most notably in the Castro district), local bars frequently display the flag, and Rainbow Flag banners are hung from lampposts on Market Street (San Francisco’s main avenue) throughout Pride Month. Visiting the city, one can not help but feel a tremendous sense of pride at seeing this powerful symbol displayed so prominently.
Although the Rainbow Flag was initially used as a symbol of pride only in San Francisco, it has received increased visibility in recent years. Today, it is a frequent sight in a number of other cities as well — New York, West Hollywood, and Amsterdam, among them. Even in the Twin Cities, the flag seems to be gaining in popularity. Indeed, the Rainbow Flag reminds us that ours is a diverse community — composed of people with a variety of individual tastes of which we should all be proud.
For a long time past the rainbow flag has been a sign under which gays and lesbians declare themselves to homosexuality. The rainbow colours symbolize plurality and love of life. The original version had been designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, an artist from San Francisco, and has been changed several times since then due to printing reasons (colours). Over the last years the flag has gained popularity as a symbol. The open display of the flag in different forms (e.g. car sticker, button on clothes) shows, that the gay community has enormously gained in self-confidence. They don’t hide themselves any longer, but openly show their gayness in the public.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001.
It is interesting to note that the flag’s colors are used for many other items also, such as mugs, beach towels, tee-shirts etc. for sale in souvenir shops. Sometimes the actual flag is reproduced and sometimes the colors are used for non-flag design elements, e.g. a tee-short with six small beach umbrellas embroidered across the front, one in each color of the flag.