As an adult I can understand where violence and brutality come from. I grew up near Northern Ireland, I lived for a while in the Middle East and I went to university in Belfast.
During those times the worst violence that was every perpetuated upon my being was a paint ball accident.
I remember in the Middle East people would grimace when they heard where I came from and say “Oh Northern Ireland, veeeery dangerous over there huh?”.
I was very young – about thirteen. We lived in two places Israel and Syria and we traveled around a lot. Don’t ask me where was the nicest place to live – I couldn’t figure out whether I preferred living beside the sea in Israel where all the teenagers were very friendly and mad for the American style and All-Star trainers or Damascus where there was a souk for everything. The stationary souk, the gold souk, the silver souk, the carpet souk, the tablecloth souk – you name it. Damascus, where we had local friends and UN friends and we bathed in the innocence of youth.
Then when I came home, some people would say “the Middle East, scary huh?”. I had been there during the beginning of the Gulf War. I had a little gas mask and everything. But it wasn’t scary at all.
The only time I was ever scared was a couple of years later coming down from a mountain via cable car near Beirut in Lebanon. I looked over at my Mum who was pretending not to be terrified bless her. I had been enjoying the ride up until that point but then I let myself imagine how she felt and then all of a sudden my heart was racing and I felt trapped. And I nearly jumped out of the cable car in terror.
I was young and my world was defined by the adults around me. If they weren’t scared then I wasn’t scared.
So anyway, today I am mostly confused. I frankly don’t understand why anybody would need to attack rainbows. Because that is what it boils down to really. It is not like gay people are in any way inherently dangerous just because they are gay. Gay means happy fergodsake. If we are going to discuss the dangers of rainbows then we should address the leprechaun problem. They are far worse with their vice ridden little promised pots of gold.
I love and I believe in rainbows and everything they stand for. I think that people who stand up for their rights are very brave. That people who are able to figure out who they are and what they want are to be admired. It takes strength of character and determination to follow one’s path especially if one is labelled as “different” in the world of today. If we are lucky we have good parents who support us and who help us on that path. We might even have an educational system or impressive individuals who inspire us.
So whilst thinking about rainbows and the pride symbol I took myself over to Wikipedia to check out where it comes from and what it means. The guy who invented the rainbow flag is called Gilbert Baker. In 1974 he met Harvey Milk who three years later challenged him to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community. Harvey was the San Francisco City supervisor and was openly gay. The flag that Gilbert designed flew in the original San Francisco gay freedom day pride parade in June 1978.
Since then, it has been widely adopted all over the world as the symbol of LGBT and there has even been two two-mile long versions of it commissioned to commemorate the Stonewall Riots and to celebrate it’s own creation. Baker dedicated months of planning with many teams of volunteers to complete the project. On both occasions, once used, large portions of the flags were cut up and sent all over the world. They were then used in gay pride parades and marches.
The colours all represent something.
- Hot Pink = Sexuality
- Red = Life
- Orange = Healing
- Yellow = Sunlight
- Green = Nature
- Turquoise = Magic/Art
- Indigo/blue = Serenity/Harmony
- Violet = Spirit
Scary biscuits. Just sends icey shivers down your spine n’est ce pas? All that love and harmony. Eeeek. Sigh.
Sadly, Milk himself was in fact assassinated by former supervisor Dan White on the 27th November 1978. Reason being that Milk had lobbied against his re-election. White also killed the then Mayor Moscone. If you read the account of what happened at the time you can see similarities between White and Omar Mateen’s ranting. It was a tragic situation exacerbated by self-isolation and easy access to guns, and in a lot of ways similar to the mass shooting at the Pulse bar.
Nowadays we are inundated with Omar’s dodgy selfies in the press and we are confronted with the undeniable fact that the amount of people being killed in these tragedies is increasing steadily.
In the aftermath after Milk’s assassination, demand for the rainbow flag increased greatly. To the point where they had to drop the hot-pink stripe due to lack of material in that colour. Also a minor tragedy. But it came back, as do all good things.
On the legal side of things they changed the law for sentence reduction due to diminished mental capacity. White’s defense had succeeded in arguing for a reduced sentence because he had been depressed. A lot of people disagreed with this because they didn’t believe it and there was a strong feeling that homophobia was one of the major motivating elements behind his actions. There were vigils, demonstrations and unfortunately riots. Anyway, in the end, the law permitting the defensive tactic based on diminished mental capacity was removed. And the first woman mayor was elected. So I guess people didn’t give up, kept pushing and some improvements were made.
What will happen next in the aftermath of the Orlando shootings? Who knows. For one, I will think about them and grieve for them for the next few weeks. As I know will many other people in all walks of life. They and their families and friends will be in my thoughts.
Conclusions? Nothing specific really. Rainbows are good and I don’t know where we would be without them. Lets give our kids courage and strength to find their path in the world and ensure they help others to do the same.