Rainbow flag, National LGBT Wall of Honor, and vodka

By  Nicole Murray Ramirez | Conversations with Nicole

Rainbow flag … black, brown, white stripes

Recently I was at a major LGBT event and a huge rainbow flag was on stage with a black and a brown stripe added to it … many concerned LGBT came up to me upset with the two stripes and asked me what was going on with these changes in our rainbow flag. Well, it seems that some LGBT Pride organizations on the East Coast have decided to add the black and brown stripes for the LGBT black and Latino communities. Well to be blunt, I absolutely disagree with this action and I am not the only gay person of color that disagrees. In my opinion, if we are going to add black and brown stripes we should add a white stripe for our LGBT brothers and sisters who are Caucasian.

Started in Pennsylvania and under scrutiny from the LGBT community, black and brown stripes have been added to the historic rainbow flag in representation of the LGBT black and Latino population.

In 1978, Vietnam War veteran, designer and, yes, a drag queen performer Gilbert Baker created a rainbow flag for our LGBT community. I knew Gilbert who recently passed away … in one of our many discussions these last decades, I remember he told me he never wanted the flag he created to ever change because it stood proudly for all of us. When Jesse Jackson ran for president, I was a strong supporter and even had the honor of introducing him at a California rally. He also spoke at our 1987 Gay March on Washington. Jackson is the founder of the Rainbow Coalition and as an African-American leader to this day has never added the black stripe to his organization’s rainbow logo. The rainbow flag has always been an understood representation of all of our community … every one of us. So those who are pushing to add black and brown stripes … well then, I say add the white one too and I say this as a proud gay man of color.

Nicole Murray Ramirez at the historic Stonewall Inn (Photos by Nicole Murray Ramirez)

And while we are on this subject, first we were homosexuals, then gay, then gay and lesbian, and then bi-sexual and transgender. OK, but now some activists are pushing and using the acronym LGBTQQIA which they say stands for: lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and allies. Yes, you read right, LGBTQQIA. In my opinion, this is getting way out of hand.

National LGBT Wall of Honor

The National LGBT Wall of Honor at the Stonewall Inn is headed by the International Imperial Courts Council of the U.S., Canada and Mexico

I just returned from a five-day visit to New York. As many of you know, I am the chairman of the National LGBT Wall of Honor to be established in the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City. This wall will be honoring our community pioneers, trailblazers and heroes and will be dedicated on June 28, 2019 during the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. About 3 million LGBT people, friends and allies are expected to be in New York City to celebrate this 50th anniversary. This historic project is by the International Imperial Courts Council of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. This past weekend, I met with Kurt Kelly, the owner of the Stonewall Inn, and we selected the wall and the construction will probably begin in January of 2019. Our very own Senate President pro tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Democratic whip Todd Gloria served on the wall’s National Advisory Council, whose membership includes some of our nation’s most prominent LGBT leaders, activists, and elected officials. This wall will be one of my top priorities for the next 15 months.

Stoli’s Harvey Milk Vodka

Stoli Vodka introduces its Harvey Milk Limited Edition to support work and programs of the Harvey Milk Foundation for global LGBT equality.

The great people of Stoli Vodka, who have been long time supporters and official sponsors of LGBT events and causes for decades are now giving its financial support to the Harvey Milk Foundation in a major way. This past Saturday, I joined Stoli’s LGBT popular and hardworking National Brand Ambassador Patrik Gallineaux on the stage of the Broadway Ballroom at the Marriott Marquis Hotel for the official announcement and unveiling of a special, limited-edition run of vodka to benefit the important work and programs of the Harvey Milk Foundation for global LGBT equality. Stoli is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Harvey Milk assuming office as the first openly gay elected official in California. The first limited bottle went to the Harvey Milk Foundation and the second was auctioned off Saturday night for more than $5,000! The bottle design is by world-acclaimed artist Oz Montania. As a national board member of the Harvey Milk Foundation, I can tell you that the work, leadership and hope that global human rights activist Stuart Milk and the Harvey Milk Foundation do around the world not only changes lives, but saves lives. Thank you, Stoli, for your support.

— Nicole Murray Ramirez has been writing a column since 1973. He has been a Latino/gay activist for almost half a century and has advised and served the last seven mayors of San Diego. Named the “Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest” by a city proclamation, he has received many media awards including from the prestigious San Diego Press Club. Reach Nicole at

Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this column are the author’s own and by no means reflect or represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of Gay San Diego and/or its parent company, San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN). The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.


  1. kenny says:

    First, thank you Nicole for your decades of service to enhance the well being of the San Diego LGBT community and beyond.
    I believe the colors of the LGBT flag should be ALONE. Instead of changing the colors, leaders of the community should use their time to educate its orgin.
    I have had my fill of letters, LGBT is enough. LGBTQQIA???? Seriously that is obserd, when will it stop? To me this is segregation to some extent. Does every person need a lable or to be labeled?

  2. Scott R Wilkie says:

    I don’t always agree with Nicole, however regarding the PRIDE Rainbow flag is a topic I absolutely agree with. Our PRIDE flag was always all inclusive and never about race/ethnicity – it should not now or ever in the future be changed.

  3. Robin Tyler says:

    I agree with Nicole. The Rainbow flag was suppose to unite us, not divide us. Also, LGBTQ etc. etc.
    Do heterosexuals who are women and men call themselves WM?
    Every time all of us are put under one umbrella, it does not make us equal. It just makes us invisible. This has a way of erasing the culture that is not dominant. Recently, this has been lesbians. “Inclusive’ should not lead to ‘Invisible.’

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