Via press release from Queer Nation:
Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Flag and a member of Queer Nation made the following statement to New York Times columnist Frank Bruni: “Olympic flag waving gave a stamp of approval to Nazi atrocities in 1936. Please don’t use the Rainbow Flag to cover up Russian atrocities in 2014. The Rainbow Flag is the international symbol of LGBT freedom — it is not an endorsement of repression.”
In an August 5 opinion piece opposing a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, imagined U.S. Olympic athletes waving Rainbow Flags “no bigger than a handkerchief” during the event’s opening ceremony in Russia as a gesture in opposition to Russia’s recently enacted anti-gay law that makes any pro-gay statement or demonstration in public and on the Internet a crime.
The Olympic Games were held in Nazi Germany in 1936 and other nations, especially the United States, hotly debated whether they should participate. There were also debates in Great Britain, France, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, and the Netherlands. Ultimately, more nations participated in the 1936 Olympics, than in any prior games. The Nazis went on to kill six million Jews in the Holocaust, an estimated 100,000 LGBT people, the Roma people, and political dissidents.
Baker first raised the Rainbow Flag, with its iconic eight colors, at San Francisco Pride in 1978. Its positive visual and visceral message of hope, love, and liberation, was meant to transcend all languages and national boundaries. The flag has since become the internationally recognized symbol of the LGBT community’s struggle for freedom.