Raise the Rainbow Flag: Where Are Our LGBT Rights?

Last week, Gilbert Baker, an artist and designer, died in NYC. Baker is best known for creating the Rainbow Flag, one of the enduring symbols of the LGBT movement.

Gilbert Baker created the original 8 color flag for the June 1978 Pride Parade in San Francisco. He made his first flags by hand with friends and never tried to trademark the design but gave it freely to all of us.

Gilbert Baker reclaimed the American flag and the implied promise of freedom for us and designed it in our own image. For those of us who were here in the very first Pride Parades and protests, the Rainbow flag was a galvanizing signal that we would stand and fight for our rights.   

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights law includes LGBT employees. The ruling will likely now move to the Supreme Court for a final ruling since it conflicts with another Circuit court. There is NO ENDA law, passed through Congress, which guarantees our LBGT rights against discrimination.

All of this is coming on the heels of the reports out of Chechnya. The government there is arresting, torturing and killing gay men. Their leader denies the reports by saying “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.”

This should be a reminder for all LGBT people and our supporters that we, in fact, are still fighting for our rights as U.S. and world citizens.  Our freedom today is only at the discretion of the straight community and that is not good enough for me.

So, I will be waving Gilbert Baker’s flag at this year’s Pride Festival in protest that LGBT people are still not free.  Let us be clear. Our fight is NOT over. We are NOT fully equal citizens in this United States or the world. And that is a stain on all of us.

Tom Hoch