A conversation about the claim of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, trans and other sexual and gender minorities (LGBT+) community to the rainbow as a piece of iconography has hit the ground running on that delightful microblogging site called Twitter.
Twitter user @dawn_immanuel, took to Twitter to lament about how nowadays anyone who goes on Twitter to tell the truth about LGBT+ people gets insulted, adding casually that they – by which she means Christians, are reclaiming their rainbow.
There is an infinite number of grievances Christians can claim to have with the LGBT+ community, a tussle for ownership of the rainbow as a piece of iconography should not be one of them. The reason is simple; that is not how iconography works.
Iconography is simply imagery used to convey a meaning. The practice is older than modern civilization. Some of our understanding of our prehistoric ancestors comes from studying the imagery left behind, carved mostly on caves walls.
In a subsequent tweet, @dawn_immanuel went further to explain this self-assigned mission to reclaim the rainbow by explaining that the rainbow was designed by God to symbolize something far greater than homosexuality.
The thing @dawn_immanuel speak of is God’s promise to Noah after the biblical flood of his era, this is outlaid in Genesis 9:11-13 which reads:
11 I promise every living creature that the earth and those living on it will never again be destroyed by a flood.
12-13 The rainbow that I have put in the sky will be my sign to you and to every living creature on earth. It will remind you that I will keep this promise forever.
For the LGBT+ community, the origin of the rainbow flag dates back to 1978 U.S. At the peak of one of the most difficult moments in the history of the Gay Rights Movement, with the AIDs epidemic ravaging the community, a reminder was needed to ground a viciously maligned queer people in the dignity of their pride. Artist Gilbert Baker, an openly gay man and drag queen, designed the first rainbow flag. He would later reveal that he was encouraged by Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S.
It served the purpose it was intended for then and continues to today. In his own words, “Our job as gay people was to come out, to be visible, to live in the truth, as I say, to get out of the lie. A flag really fit that mission, because that’s a way of proclaiming your visibility or saying, ‘This is who I am!’” He was inspired by the clear visibility of the rainbow up in the open sky.
Iconography by its very definition cannot belong to one person or group. Additionally, God’s rainbow which occurs in nature is worlds apart from a harmless flag.
It could be that @dawn_immanuel simply sought engagement, but it is certainly fascinating seeing a Christian toss the ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ message of Christ out of the window to dwell on inanities that rather than expand the kingdom of God, seeks to alienate more people from it.