black form 8

So, with Pride Month over, I wanted to talk for just a moment about my favourite version of the Pride flag I’ve seen plastered all over.

Hot Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Turquoise, Indigo, Violet, Black.

Barring black, these 8 colours formed the original LGBT Pride Flag created by Gilbert Baker, an LGBT activist who passed away this year. Hot Pink was removed due to the costs of obtaining fabric in that particular colour, reducing the flag to 7 colours. This was done within the first year, 1978. In 1979, the colours were changed again. Due to San Fransisco’s Market Street hanging its flags vertically, the middle stripe (Green) was obscured - in response, Turquoise and Indigo were fused into Royal Blue.

During the AIDS epidemic, a black bar was often added, and Leonard Matlovich, a man dying of illnesses due to AIDS, proposed that when a cure was found (and made commonly available), the black bars along the bottom be removed, and burned - a celebration of victory, given the bar’s meaning as a symbol of remembrance.

The original 8 bands had meanings too. In descending order, they are Sex, Life, Healing, Sunlight, Nature, Magic/Art, Serenity, and Spirit.

This is why I’m an advocate of this particular 9-colour flag. In conjunction with the later, black, band, I believe these provide a key insight into our community as a whole. Our sex is alternately demonized or fetishized to varying degrees. Our lives are fraught with difficulty because of the world we live in, but we can bring one another healing and serenity, through presence, and through community. We’re just as much a part of nature as anyone else, our art is emblematic of our struggles, our spirits have endured, and through this community, we can bring to light our hardships, and make the future better for people like us. 

It’s important that we remember our shared pasts, and use them to move forward. Even if we end up as fully-integrated into a better society, we still have to look back and remember everything that’s been done to us, to keep it, or anything like it, from happening again.

Detachment is transformative. When you remove yourself from the center of your own experience, you become part of everything. Your senses are heightened and your abilities sharpened. You become filled with warmth and everything and everyone around you is changed by it.

If it feels a little scary, you’re doing it right. 

painting: No.8-Black Form Paintings - Mark Rothko-1964