Wednesday 30 June 2021

A Word About Rainbows

My family lives in a rainbow city. A big rainbow flag flies at the top of Market Street, a grandbaby of the one created in this very city by Gilbert Baker in 1978, waving us home up over the mountain. Through COVID, rainbows proliferated in windows, gestures of solidarity from child to child. 

The hilltop vistas display microclimates in all their vigor, and prismatic displays of sunlight clashing through precipitation might be waiting to delight around any corner. Truly, San Francisco wears these colors well.

When my cousin’s two adorable children learned my son’s name, they whispered, “Rainbow Dash!!” excitedly. Their mom filled me in on the exuberant flying unicorn character in the My Little Pony revival that knitted this new generation of childhood to my own. We got him the hoodie immediately.

I am basically Rainbow Brite myself, a resolute geriatric raver who needs color to thrive. So, no surprise, my kid’s wardrobe was similarly littered with vibrant hues and entire spectrums from his earliest days, with Mommy matching.

These parfaits of color have gained meaning after meaning. Only after my baby was born did I learn the term “Rainbow Baby,” and realize that he was one, conceived only a couple of months after a miscarriage. Truly, through some pretty dark years, he has made the world brighter around him, and I am so grateful for how he shines. 

My little boy’s birthday happens during Pride, and San Francisco is alive with celebration when we celebrate him, too. For all of his years so far, rainbows have had a place of prominence at the party, and often friends have come kaleidoscopically from other festivities to cheer on my tiny kid. 

As a subtle coda to all of this, Pride matters in this house. I am blessed to hold a very privileged place on the queer spectrum, so I don’t talk about it much—but if you know, you know. I’m straight-passing, in a hetero relationship, and sufficiently cis so as to quietly blow up femininity from the inside. (Hey, if life assigns me Disney Princess, I might as well use my powers for good as much as I can.) I’m not trying to take over Pride, but I am certainly here for it, always.

So, it’s important to me that my kid keeps getting the message that there are a lot of ways to be, to love, and to live, because that is his world. This is about his family, too. He already knows kids with families that look different from ours; that is his normal. He knows that love is love, that we have to stand up for what is right, and that being bright and colorful is a joyful way for a boy to be. 

As we ride out this pandemic, and expressions of love and community are so altered by yet another epidemic, may we hold our bright visions close and expand them. Baker’s spectrum contemplated expression, vivacity and sensuality as a broad embrace of all that is beautiful. I hope our arc continues to be bent toward justice with many hands working in concert, our variegation perfect and dazzling.

[Images of Gilbert Baker and the colors of the Pride flag from Wikipedia.]