On Saturday 2nd July 2005 London celebrated its annual Pride. Something appeared that day which caught the collective imagination of all lgbt Brits. The Union Jack is already a unique design classic, and ten years ago today a new version appeared – the Pink Jack.
I’m delighted that
the creator of the Pink Jack, David Guinnutt, has agreed to write something for
me today on how this new design came into the world.
The first I realised ten
years had passed since Pink Jack was created was when a letter from The Patent
Office arrived asking me to renew the Trademark. Ten years, Wow. I’m very proud
of this, it was an idea I hoped would last and be relevant for longer than my
lifetime….I didn’t do it to make a lot of money (just as well as I haven’t!) I
think it’s more important to make things that will always be around… and I have
the same philosophy with my photographs, I want portraits to be interesting a
hundred years hence, not just today. It’s early days but so far, so good!
The first flag I made was
from company in East London, a proper old school flag maker. I still have it,
it’s made of a very heavy cotton and has toggles on it where it would be tied
to a mast. The pink is vibrant blancmange pink. It felt it was quite punk in a
Westwood kinda way as I imagined it flying on a (gay) galleon –pirate or
otherwise and the pink was quite shocking and it seemed a bit
anti-establishment….in a good way.
The first day I ‘flew’ the
flag it was at the Pride London march, 2004. I remember carrying it on the tube
on a bamboo cane, wrapped around the cane so no one could see it , felt a
really self-conscious, it’s not in my nature to seek out attention on me but
I’m compelled to push myself forward for things I believe in.
Getting off the tube at
Hyde Park Corner I remember it was absolutely rammed with people arriving for
the march, whistles blowing, people shouting, chatting, waving banners, I
shuffled along in a sea of revellers, questioning when I’d have the bottle to
start waving the flag- I’m not sure what I thought would happen- maybe everyone
stop and stare and laugh at me.
I found my way to where
the march was to start, everyone was milling around, lying in small groups on
the grass, some already lined up at the head of the march. I was envious of
other people who’d already got their banners or flag up. They didn’t look
bothered or scared at all. I waited, trying to decide the right moment.
As time came for the march
to start, the atmosphere was electric, everyone starts shouting, blowing
whatever and making crazy noise, its the most incredible feeling the first
time. Fuck it I couldn’t wait any longer and plucked up my nerve to unfurl the
flag, up she went, heart in my mouth, it felt as if life would change forever
….but no one batted an eyelid.
It’s amazing the power
carrying a flag gives you, people make way and I got to the front easily and
marched behind Paul O’Grady, Stephen Fry, Wayne Sleep and I think Simon Callow
and some other notable figures. I wanted the flag to get noticed and waved it
for my life above Paul & Stephen’s heads!
Looking back there have
been so many moments when the Pink Jack has appeared, being carried by people
who I don’t know but who are celebrating what it stands for, it makes me so
proud. It has to have a life of its own, nothing to do with me and it feels as
if it does. Just today a friend texted to say it’s showing on a billboard in
Canary Wharf re ‘What does Pride’ mean to you?’
My top ten moments are in no
particular order :
Europride launch in 2005,
my friend calling me from Oxford St screaming down the phone, ‘Your flags are
British Ambassador in
Budapest flying the flag in the embassy to support the gay pride march there.
Two guys waving the flag
in Red Square, risking arrest
Three large flags waving
at the front of Last Night of the Proms – every year!
A large flag being waved
behind Jessica Ennis in the long jump at the London Olympics
Being on the cover of QX
for their ‘Faces of Soho’ edition
Being at World Pride one
year with all the other countries National flags
Seeing two gay dads and
their kids carrying them at Brighton Pride
Being voted 16th in the
Independents top 100 Pink List in 2013
Alan Cumming always
hanging one in his dressing room at Trafalgar Studios during Bent in Canada and
For more information
on the Pink Jack go to its website here.