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The woman behind the Rainbow Flag

Lynn Segerblom, James McNamara and Gilbert Baker co-created the LGBT symbol

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Gilbert Baker (l) with Lynn Segerblom. (Photos by James McNamara, courtesy Paul Langlotz)

(Editor’s note: It’s Women’s History Month. Though celebrated now, women have often been dismissed and rendered invisible. Angelino Lynn Segerblom, for instance, co-created the iconic Rainbow Flag. Her story should not be lost to history — Karen Ocamb)

I taught myself to dye and hand paint fabrics in high school. I experimented with dyes, paints, wax, gutta resist, rubber bands and woodblocks to make designs on fabric and on clothing. I moved to San Francisco when I was 18 and dyeing and sewing became my job. I made colorful things to sell. Then I got into dyeing yards and yards of silk for designer Lea Ditson.

I joined “The Angels of Light Theater Company” and one of their communal houses was right by the Gay Community Center at 330 Grove Street. At one point, Gilbert Baker and I were roommates. Back then I did not know my sexuality. I had a girlfriend but later realized I was heterosexual with extremely strong feelings for LGBT rights. But all my friends were LGBT and we were all experimenting. Mostly we just cared about art and found prejudiced people irritating.

Anyway – I rented a room at the Center in which I could do my dyeing. I had a few clients who wanted my clothes. The Center had no water heater so I had to heat the water up in big canning pots and then mix it with the cold water in giant trash cans—dye-vats. And there was no washer or dryer so I had to rinse by hand then put the cloth in trash bags and run to the Laundromat. It was work.

Painting by Jim Campbell of 330 Grove St. Courtesy The TOP Floor Gallery. (Image provided by Campbell)

Well, in 1978 there was going to be a Gay Parade and the Gay Parade Committee needed decorations. Originally we were going to decorate City Hall with bunting, but our plans changed when we were offered the Civic Center flagpoles and the two large poles at UN Plaza on Market St. Lee-Lee Mentley, who ran the Top Floor Gallery at 330 Grove and founded the Artist Coalition, helped us buy art supplies after the Committee gave us money. We were excited!! I had made flags before for a sailboat club in Sausalito. I knew where to buy white cotton muslin fabric, where to get dyes in bulk, grommets, threads, etc.

Gilbert, James McNamara and I brought our sewing machines, irons and ironing boards to the Center and we bought trash cans. The smaller flags along the reflecting-pool each needed an artist to dye-paint and sew them. Then there were the two big flags on Market Street—James and I said we’d do those, with James supervising the sewers. James went to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City and was amazing with sewing, cutting, constructing. He taught Gilbert how to sew in the early 1970s.

Now, what to put on them? I’m sure we all had a meeting about this but I was “the Rainbow Faerie” so I wanted them to be rainbow colored flags. We all agreed.

I decided the sequence of colors would be reversed on the two big flags: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, aqua blue, royal blue, violet on one. The other one would start with violet then royal blue, etc. I dyed each strip by hand—and I decided mine would have stars in the corner, like the American flag. This meant I had to cut two sets of matching woodblock cut like stars, varnished, glued and c-clamped to the white cloth that was folded in a special pattern to make “repeating stars in a circle.” I was not sure it would work but thank the heavens it did!

One more thing about the “stars and stripes” rainbow flag—it has a lamé star stitched to the aqua stripe, silver lamé on one side, gold lamé on the other side. Just a touch of “glitter.”

Lynn (Fairy) and James McNamara . (Photo provided by Segerblom)

We prewashed the fabric, dyed it all by hand and rinsed it all by hand on the roof of 330 Grove and then dashed off to the Laundromat. Then we ironed all of it—pinning, working out what went where. Future documentarian Glenne McElhinney was there as a volunteer.


James sewed all the strips together for the big flags but a lot of volunteers showed up to help us, thank god!! We needed them! It was a big job. We were worried about finishing on time. We had a test-run day before the parade. Someone had a truck to put them in and someone else had the keys to the flagpoles.


Would it all work?

Somehow it did. On June 25, 1978, all the flags for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade were beautiful—the reflecting pool flags and the two big rainbow flags.

James was also a photographer and took great photos of what we did. Thank heavens his close friend Paul Langlotz kept them all!

Gilbert is usually given all the credit for creating the Rainbow Flag—but really it took three flag makers, the artists from the Eureka/Noe Valley Artist Coalition, (founded by Harvey Milk, Scotty Smith and Lee Mentley), the Parade Committee and countless volunteers to create all the color that made the Rainbow Flag stick in people’s minds that Gay Freedom Day.


I know it sounds corny but I believe in the power of color—rainbow color—to heal people.

I’m still a believer today.

All Photos by James McNamara, courtesy Paul Langlotz

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Anti-LGBTQ activist Judith Reisman dies at age 86

There was the time she appeared on the Liberty Counsel’s radio show to declare that all gays are inherent pedophiles

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Screenshot via JoeMyGod

Editor’s note: Judith Ann Reisman was a vocal opponent of women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and known for her criticism and condemnation of the work in sexual studies of Dr. Alfred Kinsey. Reisman, a prominent conservative, has been referred to as the “founder of the modern anti-Kinsey movement.”  New York-based LGBTQ journalist, activist and blogger Joe Jervis covered her for over a decade on his widely popular blogsite Joe.My.God.

By Joe Jervis | Longtime JMG readers will recall Reisman’s anti-LGBT claims as a regular feature here going back a decade or so. There was the time she appeared on the Liberty Counsel’s radio show to declare that all gays are inherent pedophiles:

We know that pedophilia, which was the original Greek they say it’s ‘love of’ but of course it isn’t, it’s ‘lust for’ boys. And there’s a strong, clear, cross-cultural, historical reality, people don’t want to do deal with, but the propaganda has been loud and strong to deny the fact, the aim of homosexual males and now increasingly females is not to have sex with other old guys and get married but to obtain sex with as many boys as possible. That’s the reality.

There was the time she called for a class action suit against groups that advocate for safer sex:

The reality is that condoms are manufactured and approved every day for natural, vaginal sex, not anal “sex.” They are not effectively designed to protect from disease those people who engage in sodomy. Such a lawsuit should target the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Planned Parenthood and a myriad of teachers and school systems, too many to count, that have taught that anal “sex” (traditionally termed “sodomy” or “buggery” under British-based legal codes) as not so different than natural coitus. Due to the lies that have told, people who practiced sodomy are under the tragically mistaken notion that a condom is effective protection from disease.

There was the time she went to Jamaica to advocate for keeping homosexuality criminalized:

American Religious Right leaders Mat Staver and Judith Reisman are scheduled to be featured speakers at a conference in Jamaica this weekend hosted by a group that has been working to preserve the country’s criminal ban on consensual gay sex. The annual conference, hosted by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, will focus on how “[c]ontemporary society has become increasingly hostile to the traditional definitions of marriage and family” and Staver.

There was the time she blamed the demise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on a rise in reported sexual assaults in the military:

Why is the best-kept military secret that most soldierly sexual assaults are now definitively homo, not heterosexual, male-on-male sexual exploitation? While men are statistically more loathe to report their sexual victimization than are women, 10,700 male soldiers, sailors and airmen in 2010 actually reported their sexual assaults. What this means is not totally clear, since men are cannot technically be raped, despite the term being regularly used in the recent hearings on the matter.

There was the time she compared activists against school bullying to Hitler Youth:

Both the GLSEN youth and the Hitler Youth were trained to be revolutionary leaders of the brave new world order. GLSEN school clubs and their teacher sponsor/trainers are now funded by major corporations and by some state funds. GLESN’s Day of Silence and “GAY ALLY!” pledge cards for kindergartners and other children (left) are direct assaults on traditional parental, American values. German children’s literature historians document Hitler’s pioneering ban of both the Ten Commandments and biblical stories from Nazi school texts in favor of coarse and violent tales that ridiculed religious believers and their values.

There was the time she was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League:

Holocaust analogies generate headlines and get attention, they do little in the service of truth, history or memory. When [Peter] LaBarbera and Reisman suggest that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are “demonizing [Christians] like the Nazis used to do to the Jews,” they undermine the historical truth of the Holocaust as a singular event in human history that led to the murder of six million Jews and millions of others. Holocaust comparisons are deeply offensive and trivialize and distort the history and meaning of the Holocaust.

And let’s close with this notation from Rational Wiki:

Reisman is a supporter of Scott Lively and his completely insane screed, The Pink Swastika. She has claimed that she believes that a homosexual movement in Germany gave rise to the Nazi Party and the Holocaust. She enthusiastically and unconditionally endorses criminalization of homosexuality, despite the fact that homosexuals were were one of the Nazis’ target groups for annihilation. Reisman has claimed that the homosexuals employ recruitment techniques that rival those of the United States Marine Corps to transform innocent children into raving homosexuals.

Reisman, passed away on Friday, April 9, 2021, two days before her 86th birthday. From the magazine of the far-right John Birch Society:

Like Judith the Biblical heroine, Dr. Reisman was fearless and stood against the great powers of the world in our time. When her countrymen were ready to surrender to the mighty Assyrian army, the Biblical Judith, trusting in God, walked into the enemy camp — and walked out with the head of Holofernes, the Assyrian general, thus saving her people. Likewise, Judith Reisman repeatedly, over the past several decades, strode into many hostile enemy camps around the world — colleges, universities, legislative bodies, media outlets — to speak truth to power and to expose vile works of darkness.

Joseph “Joe” Jervis  is an American blogger and writer based out of New York City. He is the author of Joe.My.God., a personal blog which, since he first posted on April 27, 2004, has primarily covered LGBT news and opinion.

The preceding article was originally published at Joe.My.God and republished by permission.

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The Bay Area Reporter turns 50- Congrats from the Los Angeles Blade

The Los Angeles Blade congratulates the publisher, editor, and staff of the The Bay Area Reporter on its Golden Anniversary

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SAN FRANCISCO – An important and critical voice for the LGBTQ+ community in Northern California turns 50 this Spring as the venerable LGBTQ+ newspaper, The Bay Area Reporter, commences its fifth decade of service to San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.

Not unlike the beginnings of the Los Angeles Blade’s sister publication, The Washington Blade, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019, the Bay Area Reporter traces its roots to an ad hoc distribution- in B.A.R.’s case atop cigarette machines in the city’s gay and lesbian watering holes.

Since then according to Michael Yamashita, a gay man who has been the paper’s publisher since 2013, the paper has never missed an issue deadline — not even when threatened by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

The Los Angeles Blade congratulates the publisher, editor, and staff of the The Bay Area Reporter on its Golden Anniversary of service to the LGBTQ+ community.

Read B.A.R.’s own coverage of its 50th here: https://www.ebar.com/index.php?id=303476

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S.F. Jewish and LGBTQ icon Al Baum dies at 90 after ‘full, rich life’

You have to be willing to do it yourself or you’re just being hypocritical

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Al Baum, seen here at Miller’s Deli in San Francisco, died March 28 at the age of 90.
(Photo/Rajat Dutta)

By Maya Mirsky | SAN FRANCISCO – Alvin H. Baum Jr., a philanthropist and activist known as Al to his friends and admirers, died March 28 at home in San Francisco. He was 90.

“Al lived a full, rich life,” his husband, Robert Holgate, told J. “Through his example of giving, he taught many how to live, love and give back,”

As a philanthropist, Baum was a generous donor to Jewish and LGBTQ causes, the arts, civil liberties, and a host of other causes and interests. In 2019, the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation awarded Baum its Robert Sinton Award for Distinguished Leadership, and a J. profile at the time painted a full picture of his background and his longtime activism on multiple fronts.

Born into an affluent Jewish family at the height of the Great Depression, Baum grew up mostly in Highland Park, which in the 1930s was emerging as one of Chicago’s most prosperous Jewish-identified suburbs. He went to Harvard University as an undergrad and again for law school, then spent two years in the Army, in Berlin, during the Korean War.

Al Baum (right) with husband Robert Holgate in 2014.

Upon his return, he visited San Francisco to see how he liked it; at the time, he was living his life as a closeted gay man. He came out publicly in 1975, when he was in his 40s and living in San Francisco. It was a momentous step and not really planned.

“You know they say, ‘When you’re drowning, your whole life passes before your eyes?’” he said in an interview with OUTWORDS, an LGBTQ history archive, in 2017. “Well, it was like that. But I had been telling people, friends, that they should come out. And I wasn’t. I said to myself, ‘You have to be willing to do it yourself or you’re just being hypocritical.’”

From there he became an activist, working with the ACLU and Lambda Legal and many other organizations. Also, he worked as a city planner and attorney for many years and then, late in life, began a third career as a therapist, getting a degree from UC Berkeley in social work. In later years, with his husband, whom he married in 2014, he devoted himself to philanthropy.

Baum served on the boards of many organizations, including S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the ACLU of Northern California, and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. He also founded the Federation’s gay and lesbian task affinity group. He was a founding member of the New Israel Fund, and has been an active supporter of LGBTQ senior organization Openhouse. In 2014, he served as grand marshal of the San Francisco Pride Parade, accompanied by Holgate.

Baum was a longtime member of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco. Holgate said details of a celebration of Baum’s life and a shiva would be forthcoming.

Al Baum as S.F. Pride Parade grand marshal in 2013. (Photo/Lisa Finkelstein)

Maya Mirsky is a staff writer for J. The Jewish News of Northern California and is based in Oakland.

The preceding article was published by J. The Jewish News of Northern California and was republished by permission.

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