The rain-soaked banners seemed to glow in the evening light.  Clusters of American flags surround the city coat of arms as the Ville de Paris reaches out in solidarity to the people of Orlando but it is the rainbow colours of the LGBT flag that sing out across the street.




As investigations start to suggest a murky mix of ‘motivations’ for the Orlando shootings, it seems apt and poignant that cities around the world are responding to the atrocity by displaying the colours of hope and diversity.

Before the gay pride flag was created in the 1970s, rainbow flags had been adopted by the international cooperative movement in the 1920s and by the peace movement, starting in Italy in the 1960s.  Any six or seven colours could symbolise unity in diversity but the sequence of the rainbow is a reminder that diversity and complexity are part of the natural order of things.

The rainbow of reconciliation, seen arching over Noah’s ark in illustrated children’s Bibles, seems a gentle symbol of peace, until you remember that the old testament God who set the rainbow in the heavens had just wiped out most of humanity in an apocalyptic flood.  That’s when it becomes a story of hope and new beginnings after inexplicable tragedy.