The original Pride flag was flown at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on 25th June, 1978. It had been designed by Gilbert Baker, an artist and designer who made silk banners for gay rights and anti-war protest marches. The flag was inspired in part by Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” (Garland had died a few days before the Stonewall uprising), and originally contained eight colours, each with a different meaning, the idea for which came from the Flag of Races used during the 1960s civil rights marches, which consisted of five horizontal stripes in red, black, brown, yellow, and white.
Thirty volunteers hand stitched and dyed the first two flags for the Freedom Day parade.
Although Baker had designed banners for the LGBT community before, the rainbow flag proved more popular than any of his other creations, and when Harvey Milk was assassinated on 27th November that year, demand for the flag increased. The Paramount Flag Company, based in San Francisco, began selling their own version of the rainbow flag without the hot pink stripe. As Baker struggled to keep up with demand for his flag, he too had to drop the hot pink due to fabric unavailability. In 1979, when the flag was hung vertically from the lampposts of Market Street, the post obscured the middle stripe. The simplest solution was to make the number of stripes even, so indigo and turquoise were combined as royal blue, giving us the six-colour flag we know today.
Baker, an employee at the Paramount Flag Co. retail store, would later become a professional flag designer, working for them on behalf of political parties, prime ministers, and kings all over the world. He also continued to design for civic and pride events.