All the Gay Parade pictures on display here were taken by me, Uncle Donald, at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parades of 1974 through 1980.

I have hundreds of pictures from the various parades and it was really difficult to narrow down my choices to the images I have presented here. I regret that in an effort to keep the size of this file within reason I have had to reduce the quality of the scanned images. I tried to keep them reasonably sharp and clear. Many of the pictures were scanned from contact sheets (not bad!). Others were scanned from 4 X 5 inch prints.

I'd like to thank the MONITORS of those 70's parades for doing a fine job of keeping things orderly without being obsessive and authoritative, and I appreciate them not giving me much grief for getting out in the middle of the street with my camera as much as I did. It was a fun place to be.

I apologize to the women that the subject matter includes very few women. There are always a large number of women at the parades, (Hundreds of Dykes on Bikes always lead the parade) but the truth is that I was at the parades to look at the boys and took the pictures for my personal enjoyment. If I had known then that I would someday try to recreate the gay parade in cyber-space, I'd have tried to broaden my coverage, but that might have made it less fun!

Also, I'm sorry if you're disappointed that most of my pictures aren't in color, but Black and White was my preference and still is. Besides, 1977 was the first year that the parade was held in color. Before that, all we could afford was a black and white parade, . . . and then they invented the rainbow flag and . . . the rest is history.

Thanks for taking the time to come to the parade. I hope you are enjoying it!. See you later for drinks in the 'Stro, OK? (The 'Stro - is what some of the 'cool' people call the Castro) . . . and bring your cute friend!

-Uncle Donald-


It was designed by Gilbert Baker in San Francisco and first appeared in a gay parade in 1978. The original flag was huge and was made at the Gay Community Center at 330 Grove St, near City Hall. The flag was made of white muslin and the stripes were sponge-dyed. There was no permit to fly the flag, but with a bit of wheeling-dealing by Harvey Milk, on the morning of the parade a small group of conspirators managed to raise the flag on the tall flagpole on the northwest corner of the Civic Center. It was a big hit and eventually became an international symbol for gay pride. Originally it had 8 color stripes. The two that are missing from the current flag are pink and turquoise. When they started mass producing the flags in the early 1980's, they couldn't get fabrics in those two colors, so they dropped them. In the beginning of the year 2000, The 30 X 20 foot flag that flies above Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro regained those two stripes and as of September 2001, still has 8 stripes. What does that mean? I tracked down Gilbert Baker and he said that he replaced the 2 additional colors on the large Castro flag. The Rainbow Flag will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2003 and reverting to the original 8-color flag was in preparation for the celebration. I wonder if it means we all have to trade in our old flags for the new model, kind of in the spirit of planned obsolescence.

The colors represent:
HOT PINK = sex, RED = life, ORANGE = healing, YELLOW = sun, GREEN = serenity with nature, TURQUOISE = art, INDIGO = harmony, VIOLET = spirit

A fairly accurate story (with some artistic license) of the creation of the Rainbow Flag can be found in the chapter "Queer Iwo Jima" of the book "Rebel Without Applause - Tales From The Castro Renaissance", (1999, Fog City Press) by C. Whitefeather Daniels who is a friend of Gilbert Baker and was part of the 1978 conspiracy.

UPDATE: October 8, 2001. The flag in Harvey Milk Plaza still has 8 colors and I still have seen no others like it. The rainbow flags on the light poles on Market Street still have only 6 colors.

UPDATE: Summer 2002. sometime late in 2001 the big Castro flag reverted to 6 colors and remains that way.

UPDATE: January 2010. I'm working with videos that I made in the early 1980's and found this segment in my 1982 Gay Parade video. It shows the historic original 8-color Rainbow Flag made by Gilbert Baker in 1978 and flying over the Civic Center on June 27, 1982.


This page created May 31, 1997. Last modified January 15, 2010