Since the beginning of the LGBTQ civil rights movement at Stonewall, says Apple CEO Tim Cook, "Black, Brown, and transgender were key leaders in the march toward equality"

By Jason Sheeler
May 17, 2021 10:04 AM
Advertisement
Pride Edition Braided Solo Loop apple watch
Dominique Morgan, an artist, activist and GLSEN board member
| Credit: Courtesy of Apple

The rainbow flag was first used by the LGBTQ+ community in San Francisco in 1978. And while just the idea of the rainbow reflected diversity, each color actually had a meaning. Red was life, orange for healing. Sunlight was represented by yellow, green stood for nature, blue for harmony, and purple was for spirit. Pink was once a part of the flag, representing sexuality. Turquoise too, for art. And in the 1980s, black was added in recognition of lives lost to AIDS. But eventually the rainbow was usually only seen with six bands, in the LGBTQ+ community and outside the community. Especially each June, in stores and restaurants, on T-shirts and on the packaging of various, the rainbow flag and its ROYGBV-ness meant pride.

Apple is helping broaden the rainbow. Today, May 17, coinciding with International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT), brings the Apple Watch Pride Edition, with a new band ($99, available to order today and in stores May 25) and watch face, both of which bring a broader set of colors. These are inspired by various — and lesser seen — Pride flags from throughout LGBTQ+ history which are more inclusive.

Pride Edition Braided Solo Loop apple watch
Credit: Courtesy of Apple

Apple's CEO Tim Cook tells PEOPLE exclusively, "Even before the events at the Stonewall Inn [in 1969] brought the LGBTQ+ movement to new prominence, Black, Brown, and transgender activists were key leaders in the march toward equality. On many fronts, Apple supports the ongoing and unfinished work of equality for diverse and intersectional communities, and we want to provide every opportunity to celebrate and honor this history during Pride season."

Pride Edition Braided Solo Loop apple watch
Credit: Courtesy of Apple

The addition of black and brown to the traditional rainbow design symbolize Black and Latinx communities, in addition to those who have passed away from or are living with HIV/AIDS. Light blue, pink, and white have been added to represent transgender and nonbinary individuals.

Apple has long worked with the Human Rights Campaign, Trevor Project, and GLSEN, the LGBTQ+ education civil rights organization (which Apple financially supports). Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, interim executive director says, "The expanded rainbow reflects the brilliant, beautiful and powerful breadth of our community." She notes that depictions of LGBTQ+ history in TV and film for so long overlooked the contributions of BIPOC Americans. "And with the advances in the fight against HIV and AIDS — it is easy for those of us who did not live through the pandemic of the 1980s and 1990s to not know of or remember the generation of leaders, community members and loved ones that we lost during that time."

Pride Edition Braided Solo Loop apple watch
Dominique Morgan, an artist, activist and GLSEN board member
| Credit: Courtesy of Apple

The addition of the blue, white and pink stripes makes Willingham-Jaggers personally proud. "As a Black-woman and non-binary queer person I am delighted to see my trans and non-binary siblings represented. Trans people have always been here and by adding the colors of the trans flag to our rainbow, I hope this will reinforce our understanding that trans people have always fought for all of us."

Dominique Morgan, an artist, activist, and GLSEN board member, says, as a trans woman, she sees herself in the rainbow for the first time. "I am not only thinking about the beautiful shade of pink and the trans flag as a trans woman but as a black trans woman, the brown color really represents my skin and my people. And I love how pink can be seen as soft, but historically the color pink is powerful and bold and change making."