It’s June, this means Scouts across Wales are getting ready to go to camps, have more time on the water and enjoy being, Scouts!   It is also a time when we start to see the many rainbow flags, the rainbow variations of logos and the wonderful festivals and parades which follow them.

 

Wales has a long history of supporting minorities and asking social questions. From the first discussions of equality in government in The Book of Talesian, one of the four ancient books of Wales, written over one thousand years ago, through to striking miners showing mutual solidarity with the LGBT+ community during the 1980s. There are many more examples to call on. Reducing inequality and showing solidarity through allyship are proudly part of our cultural heritage.

 

What does it mean when we see a rainbow flag now? Too be honest, when I find where my selection of rainbow and progressive rainbow flags are stored, my first thought is “These need ironing!”.

 

After this ironing though, a deeper one, a prouder one.  How many people are currently doing the same as me, how many adults and young people are “Rainbowing up” getting ready to say ‘I am me. We are here.’ and of course  ‘I am an ally’.  It creates a unique feeling of hair tingling solidarity that people of all ages, all genders, all identities and all skin colours, backgrounds, and differences are doing the same and some are even thinking the same thought…  ‘These need ironing.’.  It is a heart warming feeling.

 

Then there is the more touching thought.  How many see the flags and are not ‘out’? This is their / your time to be reminded it is ok, and the rainbows are here for you when you are ready. Beyond that is a time of reflection for all those, in Wales, in the UK, In Europe and in the rest of the World for whom it is not safe, dangerous, illegal and life threatening to be out. Here they may see the rainbow flags on the internet or perhaps on the news, and their view is one of hope for a future where they can be their true self.

 

The original “Pride Rainbow” flag was created in 1978 by artist, designer, and then-drag performer, Gilbert Baker. He was commissioned to create a flag by another gay rights icon, politician Harvey Milk, for San Francisco’s annual pride parade. But it is a shared icon, a shared flag.  The rainbow is shared with support for the NHS, for Andean people of Peru, for the peace movement of the 1960s in North America and Northern Europe, for the German reformation in the 1500s of the Christian church, and many more examples.

 

In faith and spiritual concepts a rainbow is a sign of trust, hope and the future.  We see the rainbow in the bible after the flood survived by Noah.  In Buddhism to achieve a “rainbow body” is to be at total peace and in acceptance of the world around you as a dear friend. You can see examples of this in buddhist prayer flags from Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia.

 

The rainbows you see across Wales, are all one. All these rainbows across the world, celebrating the LGBT+ community’s history, past and current struggles are all one large rainbow spanning the globe.  It is easy to mistake them as a “pride decoration” or even become blind to them as June progresses, but try to remember, each rainbow is a sign of hope, a sign of love.

 

I wish you all a very happy, proud and joyful pride month!

 

I encourage you all to take time to sit, for a few seconds and just watch a rainbow flag and consider peacefully,  its value to all those who see it and those who cannot have the joy of seeing one, yet.

 

Have a wonderful pride month wherever you are in Wales or beyond.

 

Dr Tony Malone, Commissioner Wales: Inclusion.

 

Ps. How I iron my rainbow flags is lay it on an ironing board, place a cotton napkin over top of it, and iron the napkin over top of the creases. I simply used the napkin as a buffer, and moved it over top of the creases in the flag and just ironed them out. It took a while, but I have a wrinkle free flag now. Just make sure not to touch the actual polyester with the iron!