KEY WEST, Florida Keys — A section of the 1.25-mile-long sea-to-sea rainbow flag that was unfurled along the full length of Key West’s Duval Street in 2003 will be featured in Australia’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade March 5.
Mark Ebenhoch, executive director of LoveisLove Key West, left Key West International Airport with Section No. 93 of the flag Monday en route to Australia.
LoveisLove Key West is a local group that allies itself with the national LoveisLove project, born out of the LGBT rights movement.
The original rainbow flag was designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 as a symbol of gay and lesbian pride in response to anti-gay activities.
In the spring of 2003, Baker and a team of volunteers cut and sewed the 1.25-mile-long version of the flag in Key West to celebrate the iconic banner’s 25th anniversary. On June 15, 2003, some 2,000 volunteers unfurled the flag from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico along the entire length of Duval Street, in a sea-to-sea representation of pride and diversity.
Gregg McGrady, a local businessman who envisioned the Key West flag’s creation and display, said he still gets goosebumps remembering the day the massive banner was unfurled.
“How cool was it to see so many people from all walks of life come together to make this one moment in time happen?” he said. “Key West is attached to this for the rest of our lives.”
The flag was then divided into numbered sections and shipped to communities around the globe for use in LGBT celebrations, events and displays.
“It’s about sharing the One Human Family message,” Ebenhoch said. “We want everyone else to have what we have here in Key West.”
Ebenhoch will represent Key West when he walks Section No. 93 along the Sydney parade route as part of an American delegation to include U.S. Ambassador to Australia John Berry, who is openly gay.
Ebenhoch said he plans to dip one end of Section No. 93 of the giant rainbow flag, whose ends were dipped into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico during its 2003 Duval Street unfurling, into the waters of the Pacific Ocean while in Australia.