'A sign of unity' - Reflections on the rainbow flag

image copyrightRachel Hobbs Denton
image captionRachel Hobbs Denton's rainbow blanket, begun when same-sex marriage was legalised in the US

Following the death earlier this week of Gilbert Baker, creator of the LGBT rainbow flag, people from around the world have contacted the BBC with stories of what his creation has meant to them.

While some have cited unity, others have talked of the safety and the love the flag means to them.

media captionGilbert Baker's flag became a symbol of diversity and inclusion

Rachel, Nebraska, USA

I recently completed a crocheted rainbow flag blanket. I began working on it on June 26, 2015, the day same-sex marriage was legalised in the United States.

The rainbow flag is a sign of unity, and I am amazed by how it connects people across the globe. After all, the purpose of any flag is to unite people. But I find it incredible how widely it is used and how it can instantly connect people, no matter where they come from.

Of course, the fight for equality doesn't just end with marriage. There's still a long way to go, here in the United States and around the world.

image copyrightFran Peacock
image captionFran takes a 'rainbow paraphernalia' to Pride events

Fran, Chester, UK

I started going to gay pride events shortly after I met my (eventual) wife. We went as part of the Police With Pride contingent and when I saw so many people being so free and open and proud, flying the flags, it was the best feeling.

The rainbow flag is a big part of my identity. It is a symbol for being safe, not being alone, not having to hide. It's a symbol of all the rights that have been won, and still need to be won. It's a symbol of my love for my wife.

When I heard that Merseyside Police were ready to go to court and defend their flying of the rainbow flag, it was saying to me that it's not only LGBT+ people who recognise the importance of the rainbow flag as a symbol. I'm proud of that.

image copyrightJanice Urbsaitis
image captionJanice's son Bryan organises Aids Ride South Africa, an annual fundraiser

Janice, New Jersey, USA

I fly this standard as a reminder that my gay child is as good as your straight child.

In a world that tries to disenfranchise minorities, this flag is a statement of inclusiveness. It says, "Here in my home you are welcome, respected, cared for and loved."

Discrimination is not a family value. Equal rights are not equal until everybody has them.

This flag flies with love for my smart, funny, kind son, who continues to give his best to this world by creating and directing a non-profit organization, promoting a healthier lifestyle through cycling while preventing new infections through education and awareness.

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