The Rainbow Flag, flown worldwide in celebration and support of the constant fight for LGBTQII equality, originated in San Francisco, California. Artist and rights activist Gilbert Baker was born in Parsons, Kansas. After serving in the United States Army for two years, Baker taught himself to sew. In 1974, Baker met influential rights movement leader Harvey Milk who encouraged him to design a symbol of the gay community. It is regularly noted that Baker was inspired by Judy Garland’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow and by the Stonewall Riots, which occurred only a few days after her death.
Although the original flag contained eight stripes, the modern flag contains six (the changes were for design reasons relating to street positioning and reproduction issues). The colours of the modern flag each represent a specific meaning: red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), blue (magic, art, serenity) and violet (spirit).
In celebration of Pride and support for the LGBTQII community, the Aeolian Hall proudly flies the Rainbow Flag over the Dundas Street entrance. The Trans Flag (designed by Monica Helms in 1999) flies over the Rectory Street entrance. Proof that the fight against hate is never over – and that much work stills needs to be done – the Aeolian Pride Flag was violently ripped from the front of the Hall in the middle of the day on Sunday, August 27, 2017 and tossed into a storm drain a few feet away. While heartbreaking, the Aeolian Community and the LGBTQII community are emboldened by the outpouring of support from our friends, neighbours and fellow Londoners. The flag – much like our spirits – will fly again.
In keeping with Aeolian’s fight for equality for all people, under the co-direction of Clark Bryan (pianist, Artistic Director, Aeolian Hall) and Rod Culham (conductor), the Aeolian Hall launched the Pride Men’s Chorus London in 2016. Their first performance – a vigil for the victims of the Orlando Massacre – galvanized the need for these united voices in our community. The Pride Men’s Chorus London envisions a world where the human voice is lifted up through song in celebration of diversity; where music is valued as a powerful gift and seen as a universal tool to achieve and sustain inclusivity; and where united voices are an instrument of change.
Our flag flies because it is beautiful. Our flag flies because there is beauty in the world that must be celebrated. Our flag flies because there are beautiful people in the world – and they too much be celebrated. Love always conquers hate.
“It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”
– Harvey Milk
Written by Matt Wannan, General Manager, Aeolian Hall