Words

Rainbow Warrior

The fabric of revolution

Attend

What: Bellingham Pride

When: 5 pm Fri., Jul. 12 -14

More:

WHERE: Events include a Pride Family BBQ at Boundary Bay (July 13), a Pride Drag Show at Rumors Cabaret (July 13), Bellingham Pride Parade and Pride Festival (July 14), and more
MORE:

Info: http://www.bellinghampride.org

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

At its most basic, it’s just a piece of cloth—a nice poly blend, perhaps, or a hank of nylon in a fade-resistant color. There are holes in one end to fasten to a pole or rope, but it’s otherwise simply a piece of cloth.

Yet people have died for it and, as in the new book Rainbow Warrior by Gilbert Baker, that flag could be the fabric of revolution.

Even as a small child, Baker knew he was gay.

He grew up in Kansas, a child who loved to draw, create, wear fancy dresses and dream of being an artist. Alas, art wasn’t a career in his parents’ eyes so Baker, as a young man, lied about his sexuality and enlisted in the army, where he quickly realized he was in for years of abuse (at best) or Vietnam (at worst). He “lived in terror” before filing as a conscientious objector; the Army instead listed him as a medic and sent him to San Francisco.

It was the perfect accidental gift.

“When I got to San Francisco,” he writes, “I knew I wasn’t ever going back to Kansas.”

Five days a week, Baker worked in an Army laboratory. The rest of the time was his to fall in love, explore his new city and work on his burgeoning sewing skills. Stitching became an obsession and, by 1977, he was making costumes and banners for demonstrations.

When he was asked to make something special for the city’s Gay Freedom Day Parade of 1978, he thought about the rainbow as a flag, and dove right in.

While that first flag was a big hit, Baker writes that the symbol didn’t take off quite as much as he’d hoped. Still, it was present in every “street activists” event he was part of, at every parade and protest. “One pair of scissors” and a mile of fabric could “change the whole dynamic,” he wrote later. It was a “pure act of rebellion.”

Rainbow Warrior was compiled from several manuscripts the late author left after his death in 2017—a fact that would have been helpful to have, early on. Knowing that, you’ll be more forgiving of the overly florid prose.

Aside from that annoyance—one appearing throughout the book—readers may also notice a bit of pretentiousness, lot of snarky fighting, endless drugs and getting naked in Baker’s narrative, which is likewise forgivable because much of it takes place post-Stonewall, post-Summer-of-Love, pre-AIDS. And thus is the appeal.

By his own account, Baker was one of the more ferociously involved protesters, and his anecdotes are priceless. He gives readers a good first-person look at early efforts for gay rights, and eye-opening, sometimes jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes peeks at life as a young gay man during an uprising.

Rainbow Warriors is a lively, outrageous look at outrage, in an account that seems not to have held one thing back. That makes it readable and entertaining and, despite its overly ornate verbosity, a good look at revolution cut from a different cloth.

Support horizontal
More Words...
The Way Home
No tech, no problem

Mark Boyle is no stranger to remaking himself. In the fall of 2008, he embarked on an experiment in living without money, documenting the experience with the publication of The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living (2010) and a follow-up guide, The Moneyless Manifesto: Live Well, Live…

more »
Paddling With Spirits
An adventure for the ages

Some people throw themselves a dance party for their 40th birthday. Irene Skyriver chose to celebrate hers with a solo kayaking trip from Ketchikan to her home on Lopez Island. 

Years later, she recounted her momentous journey in Paddling With Spirits: A Solo Kayak Journey. The memoir is…

more »
The Honey Bus
Saved by bees

Recent news stories have drawn attention to the plight of pollinators like the honeybee, and the potential for Colony Collapse Disorder and the endangered status of several bumble bee pollinators to impact our food supply. But how many people understand the world of the honeybee, with its…

more »
Events
Today
Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Skagit Guided Adventures

10:00am

Tall Ship Tours and Sails

10:00am|Squalicum Harbor Marina

Summer Reading Bingo Challenge

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Bard on the Beach

2:00pm|Vanier Park

The Birds

7:30pm|Maritime Heritage Park

Fairhaven Summer Repertory Theatre

8:00pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Skagit Tours

10:53pm|Highway 20.

Project Homeless Connect

9:00am|Bellingham High School

Wild Things

9:30am|Boulevard Park

NW Raspberry Festival

10:00am|Lynden

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Books and Bites

1:00pm| Blaine Library

Ferndale Farmers Market

2:00pm|1750 LaBounty Dr.

Seaside BBQ

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Seafarers' Summer

6:00pm|Seafarers' Memorial Park

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Burlington Summer Nights

6:00pm|Burlington Visitors Center

USA dance event

7:00pm|The Majestic

Shakespeare Northwest

7:00pm|Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheater

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Festival of Musical Finale

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

Upfront Goes to Camp

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Skagit Tours

10:53pm|Highway 20.

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Summer Reading Bingo Challenge

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Tall Ship Tours and Sails

10:00am|Squalicum Harbor Marina

Skagit Guided Adventures

10:00am

Bard on the Beach

2:00pm|Vanier Park

The Birds

7:30pm|Maritime Heritage Park

Fairhaven Summer Repertory Theatre

8:00pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Skagit Tours

10:53pm|Highway 20.

NW Raspberry Festival

10:00am|Lynden

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Seaside BBQ

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Shakespeare Northwest

7:00pm|Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheater

Skagit Tours

10:53pm|Highway 20.

Four routes, endless views

7:30am

Tour de Whatcom

7:30am|Whatcom County

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Shipwreck Day

8:00am|Downtown Anacortes

Concrete Saturday Market

9:00am|Concrete Community Center

Ayurveda, Eat Right for Your Type

9:00am| Community Food Co-o

Ferndale Renaissance Faire

9:00am|Pioneer Park Soccer Fields

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market2333

9:00am|Riverwalk Park

Twin Sisters Farmers Markets

9:00am|North Fork Library

NW Art Beat Studio Tour

10:00am|Skagit County

Lummi Island Saturday Market

10:00am

Summer Seersucker Bicycle Ride

10:00am|La Conner

Mind, Body, Spirit Fair

10:00am|Center for Spiritual Living

Lynden Farmers Market

10:00am|Centennial Park

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Sand Sculpture Competition and Rollback Weekend

10:00am| Birch Bay

Summer Book Sale

10:00am|Birch Bay Park

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Camping at the Library

11:00am|Deming Library

Your Fall Gardening Starts Now

11:00am|North Fork Library

Cemetery Tours

11:00am|Lynden Cemetery

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Ask a Quilter

2:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher Building

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

SpeakEasy 25

4:00pm|Alluvial Farms

Artist Talk with Judy Talley and Elizabeth Sandvig

4:00pm| i.e. gallery

Feast and Frolic in the Field

5:30pm|Viva Farms

Seaside BBQ

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Heart of Anacortes Summer Concert Series

6:00pm|Heart of Anacortes

Andrew Rivers

7:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Salsa Night

9:00pm|Cafe Rumba

Skagit Tours

10:53pm|Highway 20.

Trove Web Support Vertical
Sunday
Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Tall Ship Tours and Sails

10:00am|Squalicum Harbor Marina

Skagit Guided Adventures

10:00am

Bard on the Beach

2:00pm|Vanier Park

Fairhaven Summer Repertory Theatre

8:00pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Skagit Tours

10:53pm|Highway 20.

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Skagit Tours

10:53pm|Highway 20.

Ferndale Renaissance Faire

9:00am|Pioneer Park Soccer Fields

NW Art Beat Studio Tour

10:00am|Skagit County

Summer Book Sale

10:00am|Birch Bay Park

Sand Sculpture Competition and Rollback Weekend

10:00am| Birch Bay

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Seaside BBQ

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Skagit Tours

10:53pm|Highway 20.

Sedro-Woolley Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Vietnam Veterans Car Show

9:00am|Barkley Village

Birchwood Farmers Market

10:00am|Park Manor Shopping Center

Bellingham Handmade Market

11:00am|Goods Nursery and Produce

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Forest Immersion Walk

11:30am|Zylstra Lake

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Skagit History Cruise

1:00pm|La Conner Channel Lodge

Nonfiction & Memoir Writing Group

3:00pm|Village Books

Deobrat Mishra

4:30pm|Turtle Haven Sanctuary

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Support Vertical Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web