About The Ribbon Project

The Origin of the Project

The Orlando Ribbon Project was started after the Orlando Pulse Tragedy on June 12th, 2016.  When the events of the night and the next day unfolded, Ben Johansen, founder of the Orlando Ribbon Project, woke up startled by his husband Tim Vargas who was the President of the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida’s Board of Directors at the time. They rushed immediately to the Center, as many did that day, and Tim immediately sprang into action leaving Ben to handle the incoming community and media.

“I just felt kind of empty inside,” he says. “I felt like I needed to do something. And as my husband was the president of the board, I said I had to sit back and do something that brings awareness to everything that was going on. So I ran to the craft store and bought one roll of ribbon – one roll of rainbow ribbon, one roll of black ribbon, and a box of pins. I was making them for people who were volunteering at the Center or people who worked at the Center, and as people came in, they would say, ‘Hey, where’d you get your ribbon?’ I said, ‘I’m making them.’”

And the Orlando Ribbon Project was born.

Join Us And Wear A Rainbow Ribbon on June 12th

We ask that everyone wear a rainbow ribbon worldwide on June 12th each year to remember our 49 taken souls and the tragedy that struck the LGBT community of Orlando, and honor the love that spread out from this tragedy to unite the world.

The rainbow ribbon has gone on to spread worldwide with over 300,000 ribbons delivered so far since the project began! 

The History of the Rainbow

The rainbow has been an inherent symbol of the LGBT Rights Movement thanks to Gilbert Baker, an openly gay activist born in 1951. After an honorable discharge, Gilbert taught himself to sew. In 1974, Baker met Harvey Milk, an influential gay leader, who three years later challenged Baker to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community.

The original gay pride flag flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. It has also been suggested that Baker may have been inspired by Judy Garland’s singing “Over the Rainbow” and the Stonewall riots that happened a few days after Garland’s death (she was one of the first gay icons). 

The rainbow flag has found wide application on all manner of products including jewelry, clothing and other personal items and the rainbow flag colors are routinely used as a show of LGBT identity and solidarity. The rainbow colors have become so ubiquitously recognized as a symbol of LGBT pride and identity in recent years that they have effectively replaced most other LGBT symbols, including the Greek letter lambda and the pink triangle.

The colors of the rainbow were set by Gilbert to mean Sex, Life, Healing, Sunlight, Nature, Art, Harmony, and Spirit.