From the first time I ever saw The Wizard of Oz on CBS, the rainbow held a special place in my psyche. Even without Oz, if we are fortunate enough to view a rainbow in the sky, we gaze upon this visual magic with awe each time. We were told as children that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, and, of course, following every storm there is a rainbow, a glimmer of hope and glory. Whatever the significance of the rainbow is to each of us, it is without question a natural, beautiful part of nature.
Recently I asked the question on my Facebook page: Does anyone know how, where and why the rainbow came to represent the (GLBT) culture? I knew that it was symbolic of diversity, and like so many others I just assumed that it was because of the iconic relationship with Judy Garland and "Over the Rainbow." I am so glad I asked the question, because I learned some facts that I didn't know previously. Remember (and I quote a famous line from my first episode of "The Facts of Life"): "Questions don't hurt; ignorance does."
I received many different answers to my question, each one providing additional insight and awareness. My friend Jim wrote the following: "According to Wikipedia, the different colors represent diversity in the GLBT community. The colors were designed to symbolize: red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), blue (harmony), and purple/violet (spirit)." The best specific answer to the actual question came from my friend Michael. He wrote, "The original gay-pride flag was hand-dyed by Gilbert Baker. It first flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. It has been suggested that Baker was inspired by Judy Garland's singing 'Over the Rainbow'. The 'Rainbow Flag' symbolizes the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements. The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community, and the flag is often used as a symbol of gay pride in LGBT rights marches."
Even though some people wrote on my Facebook page that the rainbow has nothing to do with Oz and were even annoyed with this stereotypical relevance, perhaps it does contain a kernel of truth. Personally, what matters to me is that regardless of what any of our individual perceptions of the "rainbow influence" is, if it embraces beauty, diversity, hope and unity, then it has served its purpose in acceptance of all people in the collective consciousness of life.
In reaching to touch a rainbow that is painted in the sky, keep in mind that it cannot be held in a closed hand. In order for the artist in the sky to share the paintings throughout the world, the rainbow needs the element of natural light and the openness of the heart. Darkness and hatred cannot embrace the true essence of the rainbow's gift, and just as the rainbow forgives the storm that it follows, giving us hope, let this phenomenon give us the inspiration to never give up on our dreams!