You may have recently noticed many students and staff around the university wearing rainbow-coloured UoB lanyards to hold their UCards. You may be sporting one yourself! The rainbow lanyard reflects the same colours of the Pride Flag recognised internationally as a symbol of pride and affirmation for people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender+ (LGBT+). Last year the rainbow flag was prominent across the media and at memorial services around the world in solidarity for the 49 people who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting in a gay night club.
With LGBT+ History Month this February it’s an opportune moment to recognise the origins of the rainbow flag. US gay activist Gilbert Baker is credited with creating this political symbol in the late 1970s to represent what was then described as ‘gay freedom’ – ‘an insignia of pride capable of affirming social independence.’ Baker’s original flag consisted of eight different colours which each held their own meaning before being whittled down to six – you can read more about the history and origins of the rainbow flag here.
While the colours may have changed over time and the people it represents expanded, the rainbow lanyard at University of Bristol remains a symbol of affirmation and pride for the sexual and gender diversity of its staff and students and a reminder of the individual worth, value and equality of each person who belongs to the university, inclusive of students and staff who identify as LGBT+. It also serves as a reminder to those outside the university community that the diversity of its staff can only be an asset and something to be recognised and celebrated.
As part of this celebration, this February students and staff will be hosting a number of events to recognise and celebrate LGBT+ History Month.