MoMA acquires Rainbow Flag

James Patrick Carraghan
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The Museum of Modern Art in New York has announced earlier this week that it has acquired the Rainbow Flag, the iconic symbol of LGBT people around the world, for part of its design collection.

The flag was originally designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, a 27-year old artist in San Francisco. In an interview with Michelle Millar Fisher for MoMA’s archive, Baker discussed the reason for the creation of the flag.

‘I was in the right place at the right time to make the thing that we needed,’ Baker said.

‘It was necessary to have the Rainbow Flag because up until that we had the pink triangle from the Nazis – it was the symbol that they would use [to denote gay people]. It came from such a horrible place of murder and holocaust and Hitler. We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things. Plus, it’s a natural flag—it’s from the sky!’

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Though popular images of the flag contain six colours (red, orange, yellow, green. blue and purple), the flag was originally designed with eight colours. Each colour had a specific meaning – pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic and art, indigo for serenity and harmony and violet for spirit.

Due to fabric inability, pink was removed from the flag in the late 1970s. By the 1980s the colours indigo and turquoise were changed to royal blue. The flag has remained relatively unchanged since.

The full interview with Baker can be accessed at the MoMA website.

About James Patrick Carraghan

James Patrick Carraghan is an award-winning activist, writer, librarian and student at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. He spends his free time gardening, hording books and flirting. You can follow him on tumblr at