As one of the most recognized symbols of the LGBT community worldwide, in the last few years, there has been a debate as to whether or not it is still being worn as prevalently as in previous decades and generations. A debate continues to rage both within and beyond the LGBTQ community if gay people are really wearing rainbows all that much anymore. The question looms large: have we been integrated enough within mainstream culture that identifying with the flag is no longer necessary?
Created for the Gay Freedom Pride Parade in 1978 by artist and activist Gilbert Ross, the LGBT flag has changed over the years from its original 8 colors to 6, and now more added in an effort to be more inclusive of all races and orientations under the banner.
Bright colors have been used throughout history in many parts of the world to signal homosexuality or a queer lifestyle to each other, and the flag was able to unite the LGBTQ community under one cohesive symbol. Since its inception forty years ago, the LGBT has grown into the more widely accepted LGBTQQIA umbrella and now there are more straight allies than ever before, prompting many to question if the flag is as significant and powerful as it once was.
At Pride events throughout the world, rainbow flags are still prominent and heavily featured on floats and even draped around people marching. But what you are more inclined to see too are gay men wearing normal street clothes, and alternative gear such as leather, glitter, high heels, and other apparel that is associated with other fetishes that are not necessarily considered part of the LGBT community.
This is in part because gay men can come together and not feel the pressure to only associate with the flag as a symbol of pride. The pride these days, it seems, is in the notion that gay men are seen in all walks of life from the bedroom to the boardroom, and that look and feel is now being incorporated everywhere, including Pride events.
The rainbow flag is still being worn, however, but is seen more with allies of the LGBT community, who are showing up in droves wearing rainbow flags, clothing, and other accessories in solidarity of the movement. Rainbows are also being worn by those who are new to the community that have recently come out and are eager to stand up and be accounted for within their group. So, while it may seem that the rainbow is not being worn as much, the real answer is that it has transformed and transcended the community and become a symbol that is co-opted in other ways to bolster the true message it was designed to have: to stand up for the rights of the LGBT at large with the directive for equality across the board.