The story behind our Pride week cover
Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
Some people may be wondering about the story behind the cover of this week’s Dallas Pride edition of Dallas Voice. Well, it all started with Chad Mantooth … .
Chad is the advertising director for Dallas Voice, and he is never shy about sharing his ideas and opinions on the Voice’s cover each week. And a couple of months ago, he and I were talking about a way to make this year’s Pride issue cover really special.
Chad suggested that we ask Dallas Voice columnist and Rose Room legend Cassie Nova, aka James Love, to be our Pride cover model. We talked about different possibilities — a rainbow wig, unicorns, etc. And then I remembered this year’s Pride theme — Vote NOH8 in the Lone Star State — and how vitally important the upcoming midterm elections are to our community.
And it hit me: Cassie Nova as Betsy Ross, sewing a Rainbow Flag. Then Chad added the detail of making it a rainbow TEXAS flag.
Cassie agreed to the idea, so Chad went online and found us a suitably revolutionary wig and the flag. And our publisher, Leo Cusimano, contacted his friends at Norcostco Texas Costumes, who then provided us with a suitably revolutionary dress for the photo shoot. I took the photos, then we handed it all over to our graphic artist, Kevin Thomas, who came up with the finished product.
But wait! There’s more!
This weekend, we are celebrating the 35th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Dallas Pride celebration. That’s quite a milestone. And in nine months, the whole country will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, that series of seminal events that took place in and around a tiny bar in New York that are now known as the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement.
Everyone knows — and if you don’t you should — that transgender women and drag queens played a BIG role in the Stonewall Riots. And they have played BIG roles in the life of our communities ever since. So as a way of paying tribute to the trans women and drag queens who so often go unrecognized and under-appreciated, we are planning a series of special Dallas Voice “theme” covers between now and next June, each one featuring a different transgender woman or drag queen, all leading up to our very special Stonewall 50th anniversary cover.
We are very excited about our plan, and I hope you all enjoy these special covers as much as I know we will enjoy creating them!
And now for a little history: We took the idea for our cover shoot from the paintings of Betsy Ross sitting there sewing the first American flag as George Washington stands nearby, watching.
For those who might not know, Betsy Ross was the woman who, as legend has it, sewed up the first star-spangled banner for Washington and his Continental Army. According to the stories handed down in her family, when Washington came to visit her in 1776 with his design for the flag, she convinced him to change the shape of the stars he had sketched out from six-pointed stars to five-pointed stars, because five-pointed stars would be easier and faster to cut out.
There is no hard-and-fast proof that it actually happened that way. But there is proof that Betsy — then a 24-year-old widow trained as an upholsterer — did, indeed, make flags for the
Pennsylvania navy during the American Revolution. She also worked repairing uniforms and making tents and blankets and stuffing paper tube cartridges with musket balls for prepared packaged ammunition in 1779 for the Continental Arm, according to Marla R. Miller’s book, Betsy Ross and the Making of America.
So yeah, maybe Betsy didn’t sew THE flag, but she definitely sewed SOME flags as well as doing her part to help the American soldiers.
The Rainbow Flag
The Rainbow Flag, or LGBT Pride Flag, was originally created by Gilbert Baker, a gay rights activist and artist living in San Francisco who, in 1977 was challenged by Harvey Milk to come up with a gay Pride symbol. Baker came up with an eight-striped rainbow flag that first flew over the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration on June 25, 1978. It has been suggested that Baker was inspired by the multi-striped “Flag of the Human Races” used by protestors demonstrating for peace in the 1950s. It’s also possible that he took inspiration from gay icon Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
The first rainbow flags were commissioned by San Francisco’s Pride committee and produced by a team led by Baker and including artist Lynn Segerblom, who was then known as Faerie Argyle Rainbow. Segerblom created the original dyeing process for the flags, and 30 volunteers hand-dyed and stitched the first two flags for the parade.
The eight colors in the first flags each stood for something: hot pink for sex; red for life; orange for healing; yellow for sunlight; green for nature; turquoise for magic and art; indigo for serenity and violet for spirit.
The Rainbow Flag has evolved over the years for a variety of reasons. The pink stripe was dropped in 1978 when Baker couldn’t find the hot pink fabric. And Paramount Flag Co. in San Francisco started selling a surplus of Rainbow Girl flags, which had slightly different stripes and colors.
In 1979, the turquoise stripe was dropped. Over the last year, some have started adding black and brown stripes to the flag to represent LGBT people of color, and some have added back in the pink and turquoise stripes to honor transgender people. And of course, there are other variations, such as the rainbow U.S. flag and the rainbow Texas flag, like the one on our cover this week.