Rainbow Assumptions

A few years ago I went to a gathering of a branch of our extended family on my mother’s side down in the Valleys. It was in a part of Wales I’d never visited before – properly rural, with the phone reception to match – but beautiful in every way that the greenly lush Welsh countryside excels.

The only other members of my immediate family present were my parents, so having gone down there for the weekend we agreed to meet up in the village the night before the event for a meal. During the day the place offered cream teas, but at night it came into its own as a restaurant.

And that’s when I started spotting rainbows everywhere – typically squares with the curve if a rainbow – and recalled seeing a number in different places around the village. Had I stumbled into a stronghold of LGBTQ+ supporters in this isolated Welsh village? Was this a hidden outpost of love and acceptance?

Well, yes and no. It’s a symbol used by churches in the area, but they were all lovely people. We had a great time, and it reminded me of why I love semiotic analysis – crudely put as the use of symbols to tell or add context to a story depending on cultural expectations and shared themes.

It reminded me that rainbows have context and can’t be taken for granted, but at their best they are symbols of peace, community, and love – things we could all do with more of whether it’s Pride month or not.