B1 Intermediate 3 Folder Collection
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- My name is Faerie Argyle Rainbow,
and I am the original designer
of the first set of rainbow flags,
and This Is That Story.
When I was in junior high and high school, I was interested
in clothing and I knew how to sew,
and so I wanted colorful, I wanted pink stuff,
and I learned how to dye, so I got some bottles
of dye and I read the instructions,
but it didn't come out how I wanted,
so I read up some more stuff.
And then it was like, "Oh, maybe if I try that,
"it'll get brighter or maybe it'll work better
"if I heat it up."
And it was just like trial and error.
Edgar Cayce was one of the people I was interested in,
and he had this whole thing about healing with colors.
And he was a psychic medium and he wrote books
about healing with colors and I read all that.
And I was like, "Oh, boy."
You know, I love colors and they could, you know,
maybe they're influential on your health.
So I got a artwork scholarship to the Academy of Art
in the summer when I was 17 to San Francisco,
and that's where I met other people in the theater
and the arts.
When I moved to San Francisco, I supported myself
with dying and sewing, making clothes
and dance costumes, and costumes
in people's special boutiques
and a special clothing designer where I did all her fabrics.
I got hooked up with these children's theater company
called The Moment Museum,
and I met a woman named Bethany, The Princess of Argyle.
She did shows for kids', children's live performances,
and she said, "Oh, I don't like the name Lynn.
"I like the name Faerie.
"You know, I'm gonna name you Faerie
"because you're like fairies
"in the forest, the helpers, the little fairies."
Argyle would be my middle name
because she was The Princess of Argyle
and I was in that theater company,
and then Rainbow because of loving rainbow.
I got involved with the Angels of Light theater company
of San Francisco.
So I got involved of the Gay Community Center
because it right by one of the Angels of Light house
and we used to walk everywhere.
And so, and then Lee Mently was the Art Gallery Curator
at the Gay Community Center on the top floor gallery,
and we already knew him from the children's theater.
And so, we all came together,
and he said "Why don't you rent, we'll rent you a room
"on the second floor of the Gay Community Center,
"and you can do your dying there.
"Here's the room."
It had a stove, it had running water but no hot water,
but we used to just heat it up in canning pots
and then I'd mix in giant trash cans in that room
that had a large table to and make a big mess,
and then I had to run off to the Washamat Laundromat
to wash everything.
They were making arrangements
to put the parade on, you know.
I think it was probably Lee that asked me
do I wanna be part of the decorations committee
because I'm right there everyday.
So, yeah of course.
Gilbert came along, he came along during this period.
But there was a third person that's got no credit
and he passed away from AIDS, his name's James McNamara,
and he's the guy that taught Gilbert how to sew.
He went to FIT, he knew how to sew beautifully
in pattern, he made his own clothing line,
and he was a mentor to me.
We had a little meeting of three people
to decide what the decorations would be.
So I had some sketches or something
and this idea of making rainbow flags,
because at that time I was very Argyle Rainbow
and I did a lot of rainbows, and that was really my thing.
So everybody loved it, you know,
and I also knew how to make flags.
I had already made flags for a sailboat company.
They said, "Oh, we'll give you the reflecting pole,
"had rows of flag poles along it at the city hall,
"and then we'll give you these two big flag poles
"at UN Plaza.
"So we need two big ones,
"and then we need these smaller ones."
And they were gonna be each individual artist,
like "You get a flag, you get a flag, you get a flag.
"Here's your white flag, we've stitched them up,
"and now it's up to you to color this,
"however you want, this is your project.
"We need them back by this time."
And then the two big flag poles were like, James
and I were like, "Okay, let's figure out what to do."
Now the year before, there was a pride parade
in San Francisco, and some private people
had made little flags of their own,
but they weren't rainbow flags.
They're like a purple triangle
and some other, a friend of mine has a photograph
of the year before.
There's just like a couple of little things
that people would hold in their hands
as they walked, you know, or homemade banner.
Downstairs on the second floor is
where the parade committee was working.
Like doing like this is where the stage,
where is the route, where is the permits,
where is the Porta Potties, all the practical stuff
that you need if you're gonna put on a parade.
They were busy with that.
You know, the place was jamming.
I think we had about six weeks
to get it together once we decided on this
and got all the materials, all the fabrics, 1,000 yards
of white cotton muslin, and the dyes, salt, soda ash,
the trash cans, all that things,
and then we brought our sewing machines.
We had three sewing machines, three ironing boards,
three irons and all the little stuff.
The main three people were James, Gilbert and I,
but I found that once I started the dying,
I was so busy dying I didn't have time for sewing,
so someone just used my sewing machine.
So it's not like cut and dried, oh meeting at two.
I didn't even have a telephone, you know.
You can find me here.
My studio was on the second floor and we started in there.
We were making such a mess and there's no drains
in the floor there,
so Lee said "Why don't we do it on the roof?"
Because on the top of the roof of the Gay Community Center,
there's this water main for the firemen.
It just pours out cold water
and there's these giant drains in the roof.
So we brought our trash cans up there,
and that was off the third floor.
You had to go up the staircase
that was really like a giant ladder.
So we heated water up in giant canning pots
on the second floor, carried them up to the third floor,
then carried them up to the roof, dumped it
in the trash cans along with cold water, mixed it,
and then the dyes, salt, and soda ash,
and mixed and mixed and mixed, and then the fabric,
and so that's where helpers, not only
were they downstairs ironing fabric after it'd been dyed
and washed, that everything had to be ironed,
and helping the seamstresses, tailors.
And then mostly, it was Glenne, she was working with me
at the dye trash cans.
I was the first person that was running the stuff
to the Washamat Laundromat with quarters
and big giant garbage bags to wash it,
then they're like "Oh, you're wasting time.
"We need you upstairs.
"So here, we'll get these people to do that."
And it was all figuring out how many yards of this
because the two large ones were 40 feet by 60 feet
on 80-foot flag poles.
That's very big.
And they were large and when they were finished, it took
about three people to carry one flag.
The two flags had eight colors, yeah.
It was pink, red, orange, yellow, green, aqua blue,
royal blue, and violet.
And then mine had stars in the corner
to emulate the American flag,
and I reversed the colors on the two flags.
This is on purpose, so if you look carefully
at any photos from that day, pink is at the bottom
on one flag and violet at the top
and the other flag has it reversed.
We had to rig the flags, get the person with the key
to the flag poles, the crank to the flag poles,
and her truck, and six of us or eight of us get them
over there and then clip them and take the wire rigging
that goes through the end of the flag,
and it's clipped on both ends, and then, you know put it up,
and then crank, crank, crank and get it to go up the top,
and do the other one, the same thing.
Rig it and then crank, crank, crank, crank,
and see if they came out okay.
That was I think the day before.
So then we took it all down, went back
to the Gay Community Center.
Obviously, we were up early and we got all the flags back
in the truck and all went over there,
because we'd have to get those up
before the parade started, obviously, and it's a big job.
And so they went up and it looked great.
I wanted a full spectrum rainbow.
I wanted all the colors,
and for me, it meant everybody is included, everybody.
It's not like, "Oh, the color of skin."
No, everybody likes rainbows.
We're at the Gay Community Center
and there's, everybody is there.
I mean, you don't have to be gay to be there,
but you know, if you are, it's great.
And you know, like "Come on over."
And then, we had to get arranged.
We walked in the parade.
And so, and Gilbert and James and I,
and I guess probably all of us, and it was a great day.
Within a year from 1978, Gay Freedom Day,
to the next year, the flags were stolen.
The two giant flags.
And that was just like, and it was such a shock
that I couldn't believe it.
That was just our heartbreaker.
The Gay Community Center got torn down
and made into a parking lot.
AIDS epidemic was happening.
People are strung out on heavy drugs
and a lot of other bad stuff,
and it was just like dark, really dark.
It's a very sad time.
We all left because there was no place to be,
and I think it took years
before there was another Gay Community Center
in San Francisco.
And I continued to dye fabrics for a living.
Gilbert, he wanted to keep putting the flags up
and promoting, and so the next year,
he got together polyester flags, they made polyester flags.
He's the person that promoted it and popularized it
and promoted it and pounded the pavement
and brought out the flags for all sorts of events,
and there was no stars and stripes one,
because he didn't know how to do that.
So I'm really glad it came to be a big, huge symbol.
And Gilbert's directly responsible for doing that,
but I always felt like he should give James
and I due credit, you know.
Whenever I see a rainbow flag,
it makes me feel good, you know.
I was directly involved with creating that.
Even though the original flags were stolen
and then they were modified, it still means the same thing.
We're all included, everybody, no matter who you are,
what you are, it doesn't really matter,
and I think a rainbow, it's a symbol
of joy, beauty, color, light, and that's what it means to me
when I see rainbow flags hanging in the window
or flying, I'm like "Oh, yeah.
"There's my flag."
(laughs loudly)
(upbeat music)
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I Designed The Original Rainbow Flag

3 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on July 3, 2020
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