Monday, August 10, 2009

Re-designing the Rainbow Flag

Out Parade will celebrate Charlotte's LGBT community with original art, music, costumes, and dance, and will emphasize the pride and joy that characterizes a life lived out.

As part of these festivities, Out Parade invites you to re-design the classic rainbow flag. Images of all submitted entries will be displayed in an online art gallery, and selected entries will be exhibited along the parade route.

-Flags must measure 2ft. long x 3ft. wide or 3ft. long x 5ft. wide

-Flags can be created in any medium, as long as they are lightweight and
durable enough to be carried by two people along the entire parade route.
-Flags can revise the original rainbow pattern, or can incorporate other symbols used to identify LGBT individuals and communities.

-High-resolution images of entries must be submitted via e-mail to by October 1, 2009 at 11:59PM.

-Flags selected for exhibition during the parade will be announced on October 4, 2009.

For more information, please contact Stephanie at

What does the rainbow flag stand for?

The original rainbow flag was designed by Gilbert Baker and debuted at San Francisco's Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. Baker believes “a true flag is torn from the soul of the people,” and his first flag featured eight horizontal stripes that represented the “soul” of the gay community (Baker 2008):

When the assassination of Harvey Milk in November 1978 increased demand for the flag, the hot pink stripe was dropped
because the fabric became unavailable. In 1979, the turquoise stripe was dropped to create a flag with an even number of stripes, creating the six-stripe version most popular today.
The flag's creator – the Betsy Ross of the Gay Liberation Movement – emphasizes the important symbolism contained in the flag: “It was about breaking free of an existence limited by fear and conformity, the right to express sexuality without shame or retaliation from those who legislate 'morality' (Baker 2008).” The flag quickly became a way for members of the gay community to identify themselves to each other, and was displayed as a form of activism: “The rainbow flag is an art action. When people fly the rainbow flag, put it on a bumper sticker, or t-shirt, or use any of its endless variations, they are saying something. Right out front they’re saying this is who I am.”

Is the rainbow flag still relevant?
In a word, yes. The rainbow flag operates today as the defining symbol of LGBT individuals and culture around the world. While tremendous progress has been made toward equality, the original concept of the flag still rings true: LGBT people in our community and around the world are still mired in a struggle for legal equality, and still live in cultures that attempt to stigmatize their love and sexuality. According to Baker, the rainbow flag remains relevant, more than 30 years after its debut, “because it represents us all in our diversity and beauty. It endures because it connects us to nature and transcends words to lift hearts, enlighten minds and inspire courage everywhere (Baker 2008).”

Why re-design the rainbow flag? ...OR... If it ain't broke, why fix it?

Re-designing the rainbow flag is not a new idea. Even Baker, the original flag's designer, believes “the rainbow flag is unfinished” - just as the work of the equality movement it represents is unfinished. Stripes were subtracted from the original flag in the 1970s, but some versions of the flag added a stripe in the 1980s. This stripe, a black band across the bottom of the flag, was appended as the gay community experienced the early years of the AIDS epidemic. The stripe was added in in remembrance and mourning, to be removed when “Victory over AIDS” had been achieved. The rainbow flag appears today in many variations, and Baker himself has designed national and state flags that incorporate rainbow stripes.

Earlier this year, Studio 360, a radio show hosted on WNYC, held a contest to re-design the rainbow flag. Entries from this contest can be viewed online, as can some concept flags created by design firm WorldVision.

What other flags represent the LGBT community?

The Bisexual Pride Flag was created by Michael Page 1998, to increase the visibility of bisexuals in both homosexual and heterosexual culture. The flag contains three stripes: magenta represents attraction to the same sex, lavender represents attraction to both sexes, and royal blue represents attraction to the opposite sex. In describing the symbolism of the flag, Page states that “the purple pixels of color blend unnoticeably into both the pink and blue, just as in the 'real world' where most bi people blend unnoticeably into both the gay/lesbian and straight communities (Page 2009).“

The Transgender Pride Flag was designed by Monica Helms in 2000, The flag features pink stripes to represent the color often attributed to girls and femininity, light blue stripes to represent to the color often attributed to boys and masculinity, and white for individuals who identify as having a neutral or undefined gender. Helms states that “the pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives (Helms 2008).“

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Announcing "Out Parade"

I would like to invite all organizations serving Charlotte's LGBT community to participate in Out Parade as a delegation.

About Out Parade
Sunday, October 11, 2009 at noon
Out Parade
will celebrate Charlotte's LGBT community with original art, music, costumes, and dance, and will emphasize the pride and joy that characterizes a life lived out.
-Assembly begins at 11AM, at W. 9th St. and N. Tryon St.
-Parade begins at 12PM, moving south on Tryon St.
-Parade turns at W. 3rd St. and S. Tryon St.
-Parade ends at Marshall Park (E. 3rd St. between Davidson St. and McDowell St.)
-The parade route is 1.1 miles, or about 13 blocks.
An LGBT March on Washington is planned for the same day, and Out Parade will be marching alongside them "in spirit," but we believe a local event can have a much greater impact on our community.

What is a sidewalk parade?
Out Parade
has a permit for a sidewalk-only parade. Parade participants must stay on the sidewalk, entering the street only at designated crosswalks. Parade participants must obey all pedestrian traffic laws, including traffic signals.
A sidewalk parade encourages community members to participate as individuals and delegations, instead of just as spectators. Additionally, a sidewalk parade will allow incidental traffic to experience and enjoy the parade as it moves through the heart of the Queen City.

Why should my organization participate in Out Parade as a delegation?
Having a delegation at Out Parade is a fantastic (and free!) way to promote your organization to Charlotte's LGBT community, and to demonstrate your support for LGBT individuals and families in Charlotte and around the world. Delegations can include organization employees or members, friends and family, and customers or clients.

Who is organizing Out Parade?

A lot of dedicated people, but especially Stephanie Marie Mari. Stephanie Mari is a (single!) lesbian, a sociologist, and a lifetime Charlotte resident. She envisions Out Parade as a labor of love by and for Charlotte's LGBT community, to celebrate our collective struggle for equal rights and our collective joy at living and loving without shame.
To register your delegation or to get more information about Out Parade, please contact Stephanie at
You can RSVP and invite others to Out Parade via facebook and follow Out Parade on twitter.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Save the Date!

Out Parade
Uptown Charlotte
October 11, 2009

More information coming soon!