#humankindpridecommunityexpressionSF Pride


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by Rodger Cambria

Why are there so many 

Songs about rainbows 

And what’s on the other side? 

—Kermit the Frog 

It’s been a long and challenging year as we navigated the Covid-19 pandemic, collectively grieving the loss of our jobs, the loss of community, and the loss of our loved ones who succumbed to the virus. Only now, some 14 months after Covid upended our lives, does the promise of brighter days ahead seem possible. As we unfurl our rainbow flags in preparation of Pride Month 2021, perhaps now more than ever it’s worth remembering that rainbows have been a symbol of hope across many disparate cultures going back thousands of years.  

To the Aboriginal people in Australia, the oldest continuous civilization on earth, the Rainbow Serpent is the creator of all life and is one of the most powerful spirits in Aboriginal Dreamtime culture. Depicted in cave art dating back at least 10,000 years, the Aboriginals believe that when a rainbow appears it is the Rainbow Serpent slithering across the sky, providing life-nourishing water for their arid land.  

In Ancient Greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow and was believed to be a messenger of the Olympian gods. In Christian folklore, the rainbow was a promise of better things to come: after Noah saved the animals from the Great Flood, God showed him a rainbow promising that he would never again subject the earth and all its creatures to a massive, civilization-ending deluge.  

In the Buddhist tradition, one can become a spiritual rainbow body, symbolizing the highest state that can be reached before Nirvana. Many cultures including Norse mythology, ancient Japanese folklore, the Navajo, and the Maori believe the rainbow is a bridge between the spiritual world and earth. And according to Irish legend, leprechauns stole a pot of gold from the Vikings and buried it at the end of a rainbow. 

In our own culture, way back in 1978, former US Army medic, gay rights activist, artist, and drag queen Gilbert Baker was tasked with creating a symbol of pride for the gay community at the behest San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, who had campaigned on a platform of hope for young gay people, saying “The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right.” Inspired by these words, Baker created the iconic rainbow flag originally characterized by eight vibrantly colored stripes representing the diversity of the LGBTQ community: hot pink stood for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise blue for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit.  

And most recently, in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic with schools shuttered and much of the world isolating in their homes, handmade rainbow drawings began appearing in the windows of houses all across the globe as a way for children to connect with each other and project messages of hope for the future.  

Though the pandemic isn’t over yet and times are still dark for millions of people in places like India and South America, we do have reasons to be optimistic. Perhaps Mariah Carey said it best: 

I know there is a rainbow

For me to follow

To get beyond my sorrow

Thunder precedes the sunlight

So I’ll be alright

If I can find that

Rainbow’s end

Rodger Cambria, proud LGBTQ+ ally and author of the book Oddities now available on Amazon.” And if you’re feeling really sassy you can add the link to the Amazon book page or do it as a hyper link with via word Amazon or book:


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