Monday, March 3, 2008

Whiny Nitpicking

Since Übermilf so enjoys what she calls my nitpicky whining, I figured I may as well bring something up that annoys the hell out of me.

Why the fuck does the Gay Pride rainbow flag have only six colors?

Real rainbows have seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. ROYGBIV. Kids learn this in grade school.

The use of the rainbow is allegedly meant to symbolize the inclusive nature of the Gay Pride, or LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) movement. All orientations are deserving of equal treatment and all should be included. But the flag (shown flying over the Castro in San Francisco) always leaves out one of the colors – I’ve seen either blue or indigo omitted.

How is that inclusive? It seems to me that the omission completely inverts the meaning, making the six-tone flag symbolize exclusion rather than inclusion.

Either that, or it means that gays can’t count. (Which is clearly false, as I personally know quite intelligent gay, lesbian, and transgendered people.)

Any ideas?

-- Satan

Have a question or want advice? Ask Satan is published irregularly as questions are received. Email Satan or post your question in the comments.


Übermilf said...

Maybe they used ultra-violet by mistake, and you just can't see it.

Satan said...

Cute answer. Of course, since ultraviolet is beyond the visible spectrum, that would symbolically mean that the LGBT movement is excluding certain types of people but including a broad spectrum of non-humans. Beastiality, anyone?

There are some of the far right who see it exactly that way.

-- Satan

Übermilf said...

I'm going to make a completely exclusive flag, representing no one but me.

It will have pajama pants, comfy slippers, Soduku puzzles and a bottle of gin on it.

CTK said...

My flag will feature Halle Berry in her Catwoman suit serving copious amounts of bacon to me and Bill Shatner.

The Blog Drifter said...

Could you imagine the amount of colored stripes a Mormon Bigamy or Open Marriage flag would have? They'd be bigger than those humongous American gas station flags!

Übermilf said...

I'd like to add a cup of coffee to my flag.

And a baggy sweatshirt I can wear without a bra underneath.

and online ScrabbleBlast.

and butter.

Satan said...


CTK - Mmm, bacon. Original Star Trek-era Shatner or current Shatner?

Übermilf - What, no cupcakes? Yours is a strange mix of things I love and things I hate. (Which is exactly what I like.)

-- Satan

CTK said...

That's like asking Jailhouse Rock Elvis or Squeezed-Into-White-Sequined-Jumpsuit-With-The-Assistance-Of-Crisco-And-A-Shoehorn-Elvis.

Current Shatner.

Satan said...

Maybe you should add Elvis to your flag. He liked bacon.

Distributorcap said...

how about a flag with pictures of flags

Satan said...

Ceci n'est pas un drapeau.

Diane said...

and what about those colors that aren't in the rainbow? How come they can't get in?

Satan said...

Diane - I'm sorry, I don't think I understand your question.

Colors in the rainbow correspond to single frequencies of light. They appear in the rainbow because the physical process that causes the rainbow (diffraction through droplets of water) seperates light by frequency. So any color that humans perceive that requires a combination of light of multiple frequencies can't appear in the rainbow.

The number of colors is really just a convention. If you have a really intense rainbow you can see more than seven bands of color; in another situation you might only see three. But seven as the canonical number has a long cultural standing. It goes back over 300 years to Isaac Newton.

My point was not how many colors there should "really" be, which is arbitrary. It is the symbolic meaning of the number. If seven is the standard number of colors in the rainbow, and a group choses to make a rainbow with only six, it has a symbolic meaning.

I don't know what that meaning is. The omission may even originally have been unintentional. In that case, I take the meaning to be not caring about the details.

-- Satan

Übermilf said...

I'd like to add "pedantic" to your title

Satan said...

Edward - What about the small mafia of people who have been warning me to be nice to Diane - publicly, privately, or in your case, essentially anonymously? Do you expect me to treat all of you with respect as well?

Unlike you, I have faith that Diane can take care of herself without the help of poseurs pretending to be former kings of England canonized for political ends.

Diane - If you prefer that I not comment on your blog when the subjects interest me, you have only to ask. You are also welcome to delete any comment I make. You have clearly fostered a very open, caring, and supportive atmosphere in your blog, and I have no desire to degrade it.

-- Satan

Satan said...

Übermilf -

The devil is in the details

Is the title not sufficiently clear?

-- Satan

Lindy said...

Gilbert Baker designed the flag with eight colors. Some of the colors were difficult to obtain in flag grade material, I believe indigo was particularly problematic. The current five remain as much out of necessity than anything.

Diane said...

I didn't know people were warning you to be nice to me.

I'm not sure I'd want the devil to be nice to me. I'd be suspicious.

that being said, I'll refrain from coming over here, since it seems to be stirring up trouble.

Satan said...

Lindy - Really? That's fascinating. I'd never heard of an eight-color rainbow flag. But following up on the Gilbert Baker lead, it appears that you're right. The original flag had the current six colors plus hot pink (!) and turquoise. Hot pink was dropped because of the fabic availability issue; then turquoise was dropped because two sets of three colors were easier to display vertically on San Francisco lightposts!

So it turns out the missing color does have a clear symbolic meaning:


-- Satan

Satan said...

Diane - Oh, you have every right to be suspicious.

If you don't care to come by that's your choice, but please don't stay away on my account. I don't mind the trouble - if anything I'm amused by it - and I welcome your visits.

-- Satan

Stacey @Real World Mom said...

Hmm... Good point! If you get the true story on this, let me know!

Mr. Labooziak said...

Question for Satan- Is this hell and is it freezing over because it's not getting any warmer here in the Chicago area any time soon!

Mauigirl said...

Interesting nitpick - I did not realize the rainbow had an official number of colors!

I also didn't realize any particular colors might be hard to get in flag material, per Lindy's comment.

This post (and its comments) was very educational!

Tengrain said...

I remember reading somewhere that the number of colors was supposed to represent the number of populated continents.

I don't think that there was ever any meaning attached to the choice of colors.