San Francisco’s ubiquitous rainbow flags, symbols of alternative sexualities, made me want to rescue the rainbow from its ghetto and return it to the world.
And I will establish my covenant with you [Noah], neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 11-15.)
In the late 1960s or early 1970s, the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, bowing to the hippie ethos, put together a rainbow exhibition. Although I was young back then (somewhere between eight or ten at a guess) and was no stranger to museum exhibitions, for I came from an art-oriented home, this exhibition was the first I remember passionately loving. (The other two exhibitions that thrilled me in my youth were dedicated to Norman Rockwell and the Dresden art collection.)
I was reminded of that exhibition today, for a I made a rare trip to San Francisco and saw rainbow iconography wherever I looked. These rainbows didn’t give me the warm-fuzzies, though. Instead, they irked me, for they were a reminder that, in today’s world of obsessive identity politics, one group has laid claim to this universal symbol, effectively denying it to the rest of us.