Images courtesy of the MEN + Guardian
Whilst walking through Manchester city centre, bright flashes of rainbow pop out at you from all directions. On the front of banks; on mannequins dressed from head to toe in rainbow stripes of every variation, all vying for your attention; and on re-designed signs, such as Costa Coffee in Piccadilly Gardens.
Which must mean only one thing... Manchester Pride Festival is happening. And it’s happening this Friday on the 24th to Monday 27th August - a Bank Holiday Weekend filled with fun.
As Summer fades, it is amazing how these cheerful colours can brighten up the world around you...
But just what do the colours of the Pride flag represent? Designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, an activist and artist, its design has altered slightly over the years, taking away and adding shades at different times. Originally, made up of eight shades, hot pink, turquoise and indigo were dropped, and blue introduced. Hot pink was considered expensive to produce, whilst blue was chosen to replace turquoise and indigo to even out the number of colours. But in the 40 years since it was first used at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Parade, these six colours have remained prominent and become a symbol of acceptance.
Beginning with red, according to the Gilbert Baker Estate, this signifies life. Across the world, as it is the colour of blood, it signifies life, birth and death, as well as the colour of celebration, particularly seen everywhere during Chinese New Year. Red is also thought to hold protective qualities. Maori warriors would paint their bodies red to protect themselves in combat, whilst several countries dress babies in red to keep them from harm. It can be a divisive colour, in Medieval Europe devils are depicted as red. But on the Pride flag, it significance alludes positivity.
Orange represents healing, which is, unfortunately, still a process that the marginalised LGBTQ+ community must go through on a regular basis. A fairly recent addition to the colour group, having only been discovered about 100 years ago, there are still several languages that do not have a word for this colour.
Yellow symbolises sunlight. So rather than hiding in the shadows, step out and be true to yourself. It has a history in medieval times of representing cowardice. However, the beauty of the Pride flag is in taking this colour and redefining it to make it into something more powerful. Because if there is anything that people can learn from the LGBTQ+ community, it is the power to be yourself.
Green represents nature. Evoking images of herbs and shrubs, the word comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘growan’, which means ‘to grow’. Although it can signify jealousy, green is often viewed as a colour of serenity and peace.
Blue stands for harmony. Like green, it has an air of peacefulness about it and the two are often interchangeable. Consider turquoise, is it blue or is it green? Cool and calming, it contrasts well with a strong, fiery red. It is, also, the world’s favourite colour. In one study preference undertaken in 10 countries, blue came out top in all of them.
So far, all of the Pride colours exude positive vibes and purple/violet is no different. Spirit, symbolised by purple, sits at the bottom of the flag, underpinning all of the previous colours. Until the late 1800s, purple was exclusively associated with wealth due to how expensive it was to produce. Here, it could be said that the flag not only represents the lifting of spirits, but also of the fighting spirit to stand against homophobia and transphobia and to keep on being yourself in the face of adversity.
All countries and continents have created their own interpretations for different colours, meaning that in one region a colour may symbolise something positive, yet it can mean something completely the opposite in another country. The Pride flag has taken these six colours and chosen to identify them as positives. Pride is a celebration of individuals. A time to stand up, stand out and make a noise.
For further information visit the Manchester Evening News for the route guide, maps and where best to watch.
About Our Author: Katie Calvert's background is in fashion and textiles with a first class honours degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion and experience in trend, PR and events. She decided to take the plunge back into education in 2015 to complete a Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Using these newfound skills and her love of fashion and culture, Katie has been freelance writing for over a year.