Liberate the Rainbow

“Landscape with a Rainbow” — Rubens

The sky is universally ours. We look up to the infinite jewels of the starry night and soak in the mysterious beams of the moon. On another day, fresh puffy clouds may sail across a clear blue sky, warmed with a friendly and nourishing sunshine. The storm may rage and wreck. When the tempest mellows, the sun will again peer out and extend her reach. Sun beams hitting water molecules then allow us a glimpse of a natural treasure, one we wish we could touch but is so far away, one that hints of gold and magical lands at its end. It is a prismatic spectrum of color arcing across the dome of heaven. This bridge of color and light is our rainbow, and it is rumored that if you see two rainbows at once there’s extra good luck to be had. However, our love of the rainbow, once simply and naturally expressed, has been complicated by its new era association with the gay (L.G.B.T.Q.) community. We all love the rainbow still, but many of us hesitate to display its imagery lest we be lumped in with a community at odds with our natural inclinations or beliefs. Despite a long history of sexually neutral meaning in the west, the rainbow has been hijacked to represent the gay community specifically.

I have nothing against gay people, and their sexuality is nobody’s business, but I also find their ubiquitous appropriation of the rainbow annoying and inappropriate. A natural phenomenon that incites wonder, especially in children, is now lumped with L.G.B.T.Q. as a matter of course as if the goal were to draft children, especially, into the L.G.B.T.Q. way of life. It is true that rainbows also inspire awe in adults and that the rainbow was selected for the L.G.B.T.Q. community precisely because it is meant to be uplifting, a sign of welcome and inclusion for anyone regardless of where they fall in the sexuality “spectrum,” which is important, or so the reasoning goes, because the L.G.B.T.Q. population, especially youths, have a high suicide rate and have historically faced bullying and cruel treatment from others.

The issue is, however, that L.G.B.T.Q. has made the use of the rainbow symbol awkward for other people regardless of what they think of L.G.B.T.Q. simply because they don’t appreciate the sexual connotations inherent in the current use of the symbol. Really, most people in general are sort of sick of it. Again, people’s business is their own and far be it from me or anyone else to “torture” anyone else by expressing less than enthusiastic sentiments about other people’s personal life choices, but what the pride motif has turned into seems more like an exercise in debauch with some rainbow sprinkles thrown in rather than anything else. Sexual excess and gender confusion is thus glamorized with a symbol traditionally held special to children and sacred to folk and religious cultures as well as something that could bring to joy to anyone in a way that doesn’t involve sexuality at all.

The goal of the rainbow symbol, pride, and the L.G.B.T.Q. community is acceptance in the broadest sense of the word, but the result is often confusion where the weak begin identifying with L.G.B.T.Q. simply to feel like they belong. Young people figure they aren’t accepted or perhaps get bullied with insults that question their natural sexuality, so of course, they reason that those who have placed themselves in the position of their judges must be right; therefore, these young people jump on the L.G.B.T.Q. bandwagon often without the sincere and natural growth of their sexuality being a factor. There was perhaps something about them that was weak even if it was simply their own self-concept, and thus the crowd pushes them into a place where they see L.G.B.T.Q. as an easy way to make friends, have an identity, and to fight back with support even if, at the time, these vulnerable young people don’t really have much interest in sexuality. Thus, when some of these young people begin to experiment with their sexuality, they decide to go with the queer approach. Perhaps they are intimidated by the opposite sex and not having found themselves strong enough to fight back against the bullies without L.G.B.T.Q., they end up finding themselves in a community where it is easier to experiment with people of their own gender, almost like an extension of the non-sexual, day-to-day repulsion some small children have toward people of the opposite sex (for example: the whole “ewww…boys have cooties” stage of childhood). There are some young people who genuinely know themselves and their natural attractions, and it is good that there are people who will be there for them, but L.G.B.T.Q. rainbow imagery almost seem like an attempt to convert young people since the rainbow holds such a powerful place in the youthful imagination. The connotations of conversion that I speak of seem less like an effort to rouse allies as they are a means to generate more L.G.B.T.Q. people, even before these young people are biologically ready to make decisions about their own sexuality.

I have been friends with L.G.B.T.Q. people early on in my life and wish them well. They are human beings, and it is natural for human beings to develop supportive communities. I’m glad they have a support network. As a universal rule of peace and good will, it is essential for us to accept the human dignity of people even if they are different than us. Nevertheless, the whole “I’ll keep my beliefs out of your face if you don’t shove your beliefs in mine” is also an important universal practice. The rainbow as gay motif deprives the rest of us of a universally and easily appreciable symbol, and thus the rainbow symbol should be liberated.

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