Saturday, July 2, 2016

Rainbows

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(Photo from July 2012)

This weekend (for the first time) my town is having a Pride festival. I’ve not really been “attending” any of the events, but even just passing through the city one can’t help noticing…

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And it set me pondering about how symbols sometimes come to change their meaning over time.

In a little box of odds and ends at the back of a drawer, I still have this vintage “Christian hippie” button from the early 1970’s. I’m not sure if I ever wore it, but it used to sit on a notice board in my home amongst a variety of photos and postcards and whatnots:

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Back in the early/mid 1970’s, buttons with various kinds of statements and messages were very common. If not about religion, it might be For Peace, or Against Nuclear Power, or whatever. (Remember – there was no Facebook back then. So I guess we just had to use ourselves as billboards!)

However (I just checked) it was not until 1978 that the rainbow flag was first used by the gay movement. So this old button of mine had nothing to do with that, but was meant (or at least so I interpreted it!) to remind of the Biblical covenant between God and Noah in the Book of Genesis:

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. (Gen 9:16, KJV)

In other religions and mythologies too, the rainbow has often been seen as a bridge between heaven and earth; but also as representing elusive mysteries and dreams. (If you have ever tried to chase a rainbow in order to get a better photo of it, you will understand why!)

(And no, I would not wear that button now. For one thing, there might be no end to the variety of interpretations it could provoke!)

Sharing with Friday My Town – Celebrations

8 comments:

  1. I did not know about the gay rainbow flag. Your rainbow is beautiful! I have never had very good luck snapping them, the colors seem to fade in the lens. I like seeing this colorful booth!

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    1. Ginny, this summer I have not yet even seen a real rainbow (in spite of plenty of rain showers this past week or two).

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  2. It's rather a common sight in my area; Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart may not be Cologne (which is famous for having a very strong gay community), but gay pride features in some form or other at nearly every festival, market and other event here.
    Also, I remember the buttons era very well - I used to have a yellow smiley that, instead of wearing it on my clothing, I pinned to the pencil bag made of jeans fabric that I used for school during one or two years :-)

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    1. Meike, I had one of those yellow smiley buttons as well, back then - I had almost forgotten about that! :) And I still have an old pencil bag made out of jeans fabric too!

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  3. that is an amazing shot of the rainbow, the colors are magnificent. i have never gotten a good shot of a rainbow.. i do remember all the buttons, but i did not wear them.. i did not know the gay rainbow flag either.

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    1. That's interesting that neither you nor Ginny knew about this flag (as it seems it originates from the US - even if the other coast!) I'm not actually sure how long I've been aware of it myself. A few years seem to turn into decades so very quickly nowadays!

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  4. In a way, worthy though the cause is, I am saddened that the rainbow has now become the almost exclusive domain of a particular part of society. To me the rainbow means so much more: I used it a lot when playing The Glad Game for instance. Doubtless another two generations down the line it will signify something else.

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    1. Graham, I agree. I'd like to be able to wear rainbow colours / patterns without having to consider whether it might be interpreted by someone as some kind of statement.

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