It’s difficult to imagine the Bay Area without the rainbow flag flying proudly on public and private property, as it has become a ubiquitous symbol of LGBTQ+ equality. However, there is a growing trend of censorship that has led to more than 15 communities across the US, from Cold Spring, New York, to Huntington Beach, California, passing strict regulations to remove all displays of the rainbow flag on public property. These bans have taken hold in small towns where local leaders have given in to the argument that if the pride flag is allowed, other flags, such as the Confederate battle flag, should also be allowed. Extremist Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene have pushed the Republican Party to support anti-gay laws.
When the bans began last summer in Cold Spring, New York, the Gilbert Baker Foundation, created by artist Gilbert Baker, who designed the rainbow flag, took action. The foundation joined forces with the American Civil Liberties Union to create a toolkit that provides helpful documents and a step-by-step process for contesting bans on the rainbow flag. The Gilbert Baker Foundation website also provides a space to report flag bans, with a live map demonstrating the spread of the issue.
The national campaign “Save the Rainbow Flag” aims to challenge censorship efforts on the local level through community hearings, media interviews, petitioning, and mobilizing neighbors. The rainbow flag is a global symbol of hope and diversity and is also a symbol of power. The bans on the flag demonstrate an increase in conservative censorship across the country, including attacks on drag queens, mounting book bans, and language restrictions. These bans put the LGBTQ+ community at risk and create a target on their backs. The Gilbert Baker Foundation urges the public to help fight against the bans.