by Martha Sadler

The six-color rainbow flag that has symbolized the gay pride
movement since 1979 is flying high on State Street for the first
time this week to commemorate Gay and Lesbian Heritage Month. The
bent rainbow pattern was designed by Paul Mills — the late art
director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art — who also created the
first city flag to fly on the downtown flagstaffs more than 25
years ago. The gay-friendly banners are getting their first turn on
the flagstaffs thanks to the efforts of Gay Santa Barbara (GSB)
Executive Director Charles Rice, who has agitated the city for
years to include GSB in the State Street flag program. Last year,
the city relinquished the program’s reins to the Downtown
Organization (DO), with instructions to accommodate the program’s
waiting list. Given a choice, the two dozen or so groups that have
traditionally displayed their flags each year — United Way,
Ensemble Theatre, and the Rape Crisis Center, to name a few — all
preferred to reduce the number of days their flags fly annually
rather than rotate off the list. GSB is one of eight nonprofits —
including the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Alzheimer’s Association,
and Heal the Ocean — to join this year’s mix, with more groups
continuing to sign up, according to DO President Marshall Rose. The
huge demand leaves the DO with the challenge of devising a calendar
that allows the greatest number of groups to participate, while
making it worthwhile for organizations to dish out the $10,000 it
costs to produce the flags.


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