A Brief History of the Pride Flag

During World War II, under Adolph Hitlerís German Nazi regime pink and black upside triangles were used to symbolize gay and lesbian imprisonment in the concentration camps and overall societal oppression. Despite being reclaimed by the gay and lesbian community in 1970ís and inverted to the right-side up position, symbolizing a commitment for community acceptance, the rainbow flag was also introduced.

In 1978, at a San Francisco Gay Pride Parade the rainbow flag was first displayed. It embodies individuals from all backgrounds, races and national origins and signifies the full array of faiths and experiences.

Each colour is also symbolic of various meanings. They are described below.

Colour Meaning
Red Light
Orange Healing
Yellow Sunshine
Green Serenity
Blue Art
Purple Spirit



Selected Historical Events
(adapted from"Equality", Canadian Human Rights Commission and "Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice", Adams, Bell, Griffin,p165-169.1997, Canadian Human Rights Commission.1996.)

Before 2500 B.C.: No concept of sexual orientation and no stigma
1-700: Sexual repression. Sexual behaviour to be expressed only in marriage for procreation.
1869: Dr. Karoly Benkert, uses "homosexuality" to describe same-sex acts,
1871: German Criminal Code declares same sex acts between men as a crime, therefore a basis for Nazi persecution.
1900-1930: "Gay" is used in the U.S. homosexual subculture which is developing in the U.S. and Germany. The new feminists and suffragists are stigmatized as "lesbians" .Doctors treat homosexuality as an illness. Freud discovers female sexuality.
1933-1944: Thousands of homosexual men are sent to concentration camps after Hitler assumes power. They are forced to wear a pink triangle to identify them (later reclaimed as a symbol of anti-oppression). Few survive.
1948: Kinsey reveals same sex behaviour is more common that was thought. His six point continuum describes bisexuality as part of the continuum between heterosexuality and homosexuality.
1952: Homosexuals cannot be in public service occupations in the U.S.
1969: Stonewall Riots, New York City Homosexuality no longer a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada.
1973: American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
1974: American Psychological Association follows.
1975: Homosexuals are no longer barred as immigrants to Canada under the Immigration Act.
1988: Lesbians and gay men are cited as the most frequent targets of hate crimes in a report by the U.S .Department of Justice .
1989: Denmark becomes the first country to legalize same- sex marriages.
1992: The Ontario Court of Appeal "reads in" sexual orientation into the Ontario Human Rights Act.
Michelle Douglas wins her lawsuit against the Canadian Armed Forces, which changes its policy of not hiring and promoting gays and lesbians.
1995: The Supreme Court of Canada (Egan and Nesbitt) confirms that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
1998: The Ontario government delists Sexual Reassignment Surgery for Transsexuals as a funded service.
1999: Same-sex couples awarded the same benefits as common-law heterosexual partners, by the Canadian Supreme Court.
2002: Marc Hall wins the right to take his same sex partner to the prom at a Separate school in Durham Region.
2004 (Sept.): Six provinces in Canada have now recognized same-sex (equal) marriage.