Swastika. Gay. Rainbow. Gang.
The spoiler alert will not be advertised!
When I was a little girl in elementary school in the ’60s, my class use to sing songs about being happy and gay. During that time, there was a fast-food restaurant my sister loved; it was called “Gay Dan’s.”
During my late teens and early 20’s, I loved rainbows. I still do. I loved having them around me. I was in awe when I would see one in the sky after it rained.
The symbol was bright, pretty, and colorful. I chose it as my favorite desk ornament when I worked as an office clerk.
I found heart-shaped erasers I would put on my pencils, donned in colors of the rainbow.
When my daughter was around three, I bought her the My Little Pony doll with a mane in colors of the rainbow. I also had to get her a Rainbow Brite doll the first Christmas they began selling.
I can’t forget the rainbow suncatchers I would hang in my window as they would sparkle and reflect the sun.
One evening last week, I watched the local newscast and was intrigued by GangGang.
In the ’90s I worked at a global pharmaceutical company, headquartered in my hometown. When I hired-on, I went on the new employees’ tour.
During my tour, I noticed small floor tiles in one of the main corridors. The tiles were approximately two-inch squares.
There was nothing significant about the square tiles, so I thought. But, after looking at them closer, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
The tour guide confirmed what I thought I had seen.
The tiles had red swastikas carved in the center of them and the background of each tile was green, which created a contrast as if to ensure the red symbols would be prominent.
Yes, there was much detail. So much so, I thought whoever created those tiles must have had lots of hatred in their heart. It also made me wonder about my employer; what kind of cult did I join?!
During my daughter’s eighth-grade graduation trip, her class went to Washington, D.C. She was able to tour the Holocaust Museum.
When she returned home, she shared her experience with me, and we cried together. That was in 2000, and it still hurts!
I know this seems to be getting deep. And you’re probably wondering where am I going with all of this?
Well, I was in love with the rainbow long before I knew it represented the covenant God made with Noah as a promise to him and his descendants(Genesis 9)more than 2,000 years ago.
Now, fast-forward to the 21st Century, and you’re probably asking: How did the rainbow become a symbol to represent the LGBTQ community today?
Gilbert Baker created the first rainbow flag in 1978 to represent the LGBTQ community.
As for the term ‘gang,’ I must give credit to two residents in my city, Mali Jeffers and Alan Bacon for enlightening me during last week’s newscast that it also has an origin, different than the negative connotation being used in its place today.
It means ‘going on a journey together,’ which gangs do so, as they set out to commit crimes, they are on a journey together. However, the term originally had a positive meaning.
As for the term “gay,” although originally expressed as an emotion, it has become to describe a demographic; a populace.
For instance, some years ago in the ’70s, the restaurant, Gay Dan’s changed its name to Mr. Dan’s due to the culture shift in the use of its terminology to accommodate what and whom it represents today.
The swastika? I smiled and it did my heart some good to learn its original meaning is “good luck and good fortune,” or some variations of it. Thanks to the tour guide.
But it still hurts to know how the symbol has been used since 1920, and how it is still being used for the same negative reason today.
So, your next and final question probably is: “What’s my point?
I wanted to share the origins and meanings of terms, symbols, and beliefs before they were hijacked, adopted, kidnapped, or stolen, misused, abused, or repurposed.
Whatever term of how the transformations came to be, depends on your view.
I also want to make light of the way cultures have changed, how we’ve adapted. And, perhaps, share some nuggets of little-known facts.