Members and supporters of Gay Santa Barbara gathered Saturday to raise one of California’s original rainbow gay pride flags in De La Guerra Plaza.

The San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Celebration Committee donated the flag as a way to extend support to Santa Barbara’s gay community. The rainbow flag originated in 1978 during a gay pride parade in San Francisco and since then, has decorated two miles of San Francisco’s Market Street in celebration every June.

The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee purchased new flags to replace the aged ones in San Francisco. Executive Director Teddy Witherington visited Saturday’s Gay Santa Barbara celebration to present the group with one of San Francisco’s old rainbow pride flags.

“A number of the flags are still in good condition, and so we decided to send them out as gifts of support and solidarity around the world,” Witherington said. “Santa Barbara, with this flag, is part of the largest grassroots civil movement for human rights. You all are part of something bigger. We are all brothers and sisters who celebrate pride under very different circumstances. The flag is here to salute you.”

The celebration, which attracted close to 50 people, featured a performance by the “Drag King” lip-synching group The Disposable Boy-Toys before the flag was raised. GSB leader Charles Rice said the flag is a way to recognize the presence of the gay community in Santa Barbara.

“We will continue to work within the gay community to demonstrate who we are to the community at large. We are an important component to the community on the business level. Oftentimes people don’t realize the significant contributions made by the gay community to Santa Barbara,” he said. “Of course, in San Francisco the culture of the community is much more visible. But we have a long, outstanding history of gay cultural heritage in Santa Barbara that isn’t often recognized.”

Lauryl Tognazzini, a UCSB senior and member of The Disposable Boy-Toys, said the event was an opportunity to celebrate identity among peers[S1].

“We are celebrating ourselves right now. That’s what pride is all about. It’s one of the few days when we forget about explaining who we are to the larger community and we are just ourselves,” Tognazzini said.

Bruce Rittenhouse , a candidate for Santa Barbara mayor, said the flag indicates the strong presence of the gay community in Santa Barbara.

“I believe that symbols are important. It lets Santa Barbara know that the gay community is here. I support this diversity, and it’s completely symbolized by this flag,” he said.