Malta Pride Flag in the Map Photo

Flag in the Map

Exhibition on View Monday - Friday, October 17, 2022 through January 2, 2023.
Exhibition Details
LGBTQ+ History month
Flag in the Map
Charting Rainbow Flag Stories
New York State Capitol
East Lobby, 2nd Floor
On View Monday - Friday, October 17, 2022 - January 2, 2023
7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.



Forward by Dustin Lance Black

It was 2008 when I rounded the bend of a set of creaking stairs that led to the top floor of an old warehouse in San Francisco.

Cascading down those steps was a waterfall of pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, and purple. I followed their lead to a vast workspace where artist and activist Gilbert Baker stood in tattered denim overalls, a steaming iron in hand, sweating as he evened out the freshly dyed and washed bolts of cloth that would soon be sewn into a recreation of one of two rainbow-colored flags he flew for the very first time for the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco—the day Gilbert Baker gave birth to the powerful symbol that continues to unite and empower our ever-growing, infinitely diverse, global LGBTQIA+ family. Three decades after that historic day, Gilbert was still busy sewing pride. 

Just this morning, at our kitchen table in London, I sat down with my husband, our three-year-old son, a few tired white T-shirts, and six bottles of dye: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. And we tie-dyed our own rainbows onto those old shirts. Without prompting, our son declared our new six-color T’s our “family pride shirts!” Like most of his young pals, our son already knows this symbol. Hearing my son joyfully give voice to its meaning, it was clear to me that the Rainbow Flag will only continue to gain strength, meaning, and power for generations to come.

But who does its power belong to? It belongs to the people. That was Gilbert’s original intention. And the exhibit “Flag in the Map” celebrates the numerous ways that people have embraced his universal symbol of LGBTQIA+ defiance and empowerment, of liberation and celebration.

It’s true that the colors of Gilbert’s symbol have changed over the decades. In 1979 he removed two of the original stripes to create the standard Rainbow Flag we embrace now. There have been other changes, as well. Activists have created a variety of pride flags, inspired by Gilbert’s original, each celebrating specific LGBTQIA+ communities. Every time someone adopts or adapts this symbol, it evolves and grows more diverse, more inclusive and more powerful.

Some people worry that changing the original somehow degrades Baker’s creation. But anyone who has had the great fortune of knowing Gilbert knows he embraced the power of transformation. He rarely appeared in the same form twice: a man at work in dye-stained jeans, a smoking drag nun, a sequined Lady Liberty, a living breathing rainbow, or Christ on a cross himself.

So, there is no doubt in my mind that Gilbert would revel in the way people across the globe have made this symbol their own.  I was lucky enough to see the twinkle in Gilbert’s eye when he witnessed bold new uses of his rainbow -- to hear the rascally laugh of an artist who lived to see his vision understood, embraced, and put to bold use.

Gilbert may be gone, but his symbol is very much alive. It lives in the Flag In The Map exhibition, a powerful collection of stories that reaffirm the global impact of Gilbert’s creation.  Every day, the Pride Flag gathers more supporters, prompting more stories, more empowerment, more freedom.  As it bolsters more queer people in their own revolutions of love, I know that Gilbert would delight in knowing his Rainbow Flag was never his at all. It was meant for all of us. So write your own story and plant your own flag in the map.

About the Project
Flag in the Map is a growing collection of photographs and stories that reaffirms the universal power of the Rainbow Flag to inspire LGBTQ+ people – especially in countries where their everyday existence is threatened. A collaboration between the Gilbert Baker Foundation and ReportOUT, Flag in the Map was launched in October 2020. The two organizations put out an open call across the world, asking for submissions of photos of people flying their Pride Flags. The resulting images came in from scores of countries and were curated for an emotionally powerful book.

New York City
Bill Berman

This picture was taken during NYC Pride 2018. A friend threw a party and I noticed he had a Rainbow Flag taped to his A/C unit. When I reviewed it later, it looked it was flying above the crowd like a beacon. Like a protector.

I’m old enough to remember before internet searches, when a rainbow flag sticker outside a business or bar was a global sign of sanctuary. It is, and always will be, a sign of hope and liberation, ingrained with the universal principles of diversity and inclusion.
Bill Berman Flags in the Map Photo

United States
Jaylene Quiles

Because I'm a New Mexico historian who was the first trans-nonbinary to run for office in New Mexico, while being the grand marshal of the first parade in my hometown, as well as the pride director. I have taken my Pride Flag to all the historical places in Las Vegas, New Mexico, to be the first person ever to place the Pride Flag in these places in my homophobic state. Viva Pride!

Pride means my rights and existence are not for sale.
Jaylene Quiles Flag in the Map Photo

Grace Edwards Akuma

It shows how happy and proud I am of my identity as a lesbian woman, more so in a country that has not fully embraced LGBTIQ persons. I am very PROUD to be openly out. I am a woman who loves a fellow woman! #LoveWins!

The Pride Flag for me means:
1. Love
2. Peace
3. Fulfillment
4. Diversity
Grace Akuma Flag in the Map Photo

United Kingdom
Liberate Jersey

We are the charity who organizes Channel Islands Pride. This photo was taken in 2019 at only our fifth annual Pride. It hangs on the wall of our office, and it makes everyone who sees it smile because it encapsulates the spirit of Pride in Jersey and what it means to be LGBTQ+ from this small island.

Woven into every Pride Flag are the hidden lives of those who have gone before, the victories of the brave who fought for equality, the struggles of those who are yet to find their place in the LGBTQ+ rainbow, and the hopes of those who still live under oppression. At its heart, then, is optimism that love will ultimately triumph.
Liberate Jersey Flag in the Map Photo

Mick Hicks

In late 1994 I traveled to Havana, Cuba, on a tour sponsored by The Center for Cuban Studies. With me was a 30x60-foot piece of the Rainbow Flag cut from the
Mile-Long Rainbow Flag that had been carried down First Avenue in New York City that summer. The flag had been

given to me by my friend Gilbert Baker who created the Rainbow Flag in 1978. Gilbert wanted the flag to be presented to the small emerging gay community of Havana. The presentation was held in the historic Coppelia Park during a drag show sponsored by local drag personalities. The group was allowed to meet and stage events in the park under the umbrella of educating people about AIDS.
Mick Hicks Flag in the Map Photo

Winchester, VA
Jeff Tiller

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. That evening President Obama lit up the White House in the colors of the Rainbow Flag. You don’t need words to understand the context. The White House is the most powerful symbol of freedom and democracy in the world, and on that day, it was illuminated by the joyous colors of Gilbert Baker’s Pride flag.

As the White House staffer responsible for executing the logistics of the lighting that evening, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the lights finally turned on. Heavy rain earlier in the week had caused some of the lights to temporarily malfunction. We successfully fixed all of the lights just as the sun set.
Today, the Pride flag reminds me that our fight for the equal treatment for people of all sexual orientations, genders and races will never end. I’m also reminded of my friend Gilbert Baker.

His legacy reminds us that one person, one voice, can change the world.
Jeff Tiller Flag in the Map Photo

Malta Pride

Malta has become one of the best countries when it comes to LGBTIQ Equality Laws. This EU member state is one of the smallest
island-states, located in the Mediterranean Sea. To get to where we are today, activism and visibility in all spheres of life were key to making this change happen. That being said, the attitudes, behaviours and hearts of have yet to change when it comes to affirming and celebrating all minorities. In this picture, a 500-year-old watchtower stands over one of
Malta's well-known queer-frequented beaches and the flag just brings the surroundings to life with vibrancy. The old and progressive co-exist and enhance each other.

The Pride Flag represents courage and a "welcome home" for members of the community. Somehow, the rainbow colours trigger anger and homophobia in certain people -- yet I don't think there's anything more beautiful than seeing these colours together.
Malta Pride Flag in the Map Photo

Shanghai Pride

We chose this photo because this was one of the very rare moments when we could wave the Pride Flag in the streets of Shanghai. It was very early in the morning, and we had to make the shot very quickly for fear of being reprimanded. We later turned it into an ad campaign for the festival. That year was one of the best pride festivals that we had.

The Pride Flag reminds us of unity for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.
Shanghai Pride Flag in the Map Photo

United Kingdom
Tania Stevenson

This was taken at an unofficial Trans Lives Matter protest in Nottingham during the summer of 2020. I love this photo as it highlights the solidarity between several marginalized community groups during the height of lockdown. My good friend, Maryam Din took the photo and captured the moment where our group was just too big to be kept on the pavement and we had to spill out onto the road.

The Trans Flag acted as a rallying point and call to action for so many on this day, as it has on many other occasions over the last few years. I hope it means that we as a community are not going to slip quietly into the background, meekly resigning ourselves to the substitute benches at Pride events. We’re out. We’re proud. We’re out front, leading the way. We’re in every local community and no matter what the media throws at us, we’ll forever be visible and doing our utmost to live our authentic lives.

Author’s note: The Trans Flag was created by Monica Helms in 1999.
Tania Stevenson Flag in the Map

United States
Donna Aceto

Early Sunday morning on June 12, 2016, Gays Against Guns (GAG) was born. Gilbert Baker was immediately on top of it as well, creating our now-iconic banner in time for the 2016 Pride March. Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old man, killed 49Nearly six years later, we treasure that people and wounded 53 more in a mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub. It was devastating news to all and our NYC community sprang into action, gathering at Stonewall for a packed, emotional memorial and rally. The following day, GAYS AGAINST GUNS banner. Handled with care, it travels with us to our many actions in NYC, Albany and DC. With it, our treasured friend and GAGer, Gilbert Baker, lives on with us as we remember victims of gun violence.
Donna Aceto Flag in the Map Photo

Kiev Pride

In June 2020, Ukraine activist Ruslan Beliaiev used a drone to fly an LGBTQ rainbow-striped flag over the Soviet-era Statue of the Motherland in the Ukrainian capital during the Kyiv Pride celebrations. Today these brave activists are under direct attack as Russia threatens to eliminate anything LGBTQ from Ukraine.

“I was interrogated by the Russians. They took my phone. They took my passwords. They tried to get me to inform on other activists. I refused to cooperate and went into hiding.” - Kyrylo Samozdra

“Fighting for freedom now means fighting for LGBT people as well.” - Bohdan Moroz
Kiev Pride Flag in the Map Photo

Steve Taylor

LGBTI+ people across Europe are facing increasing hostility and hate, and we use our historic Gilbert Baker Rainbow Flag at vigils, demonstrations, and events so that it is a part of our living history. This photograph shows Europride president, Kristine Garina, speaking to media in front of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest in January 2022.

The Pride Flag is a global symbol of equality and human rights for LGBTI+ people. As our community evolves, so does our flag: but its global recognition is instant and reflective of the Pride movement's role as the world's biggest human rights movement.
Steve Taylor Flag in the Map Photo