The Rainbow Connection
“Colours are light’s suffering and joy.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I wanted to wish you happy Pride Month by sending you some pictures of rainbows. I wanted to cut through the corporatization of the rainbows now found on everything from mouthwash to vodka to vinyl-stickered bank lobbies. But colour has a way of complicating things and I ended up going down a rabbit hole.
I read about Gilbert Baker who got most of the credit and did most of the promotional work for the Pride flag and Lynn Segerblom, known then as Faerie Argyle Rainbow, who maybe had the idea and definitely developed the dyes, and James McNamara who knew how to do the stitching and died of AIDS, and a crew of uncredited volunteers carrying dripping cotton fabric from the garbage cans full of dye and soda ash from the rooftop to a nearby laundromat. I read about the recently rediscovered piece of the original pride flag and the ambiguous origins of the synthetic version of the Pride flag in the MoMA, and the shifting stories of all the participants. I read about flag companies and The Philly Pride Rainbow with its brown and black stripe and the artist known as the Caretaker of Dreams who broke his leg brightening a tunnel on the side of a highway, and the first choreopoem and the colours of Penguin Classics, and Newton’s arbitrary seven colours, and Shěn Kuò who was explaining rainbows 600 years before Newton. After a few days of research, all I can say for sure is that rainbows are queer and alive and multifaceted and defy easy categorization and maybe there is something about changeableness itself that makes them a perfect symbol.
Love to all, Jason
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