Where does come from?
The rainbow emoji was included in the first Apple operating system in 2008 and to Unicode 6.0 in 2010 and Emoji 1.0 in 2015.
I love the rainbow emoji.🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈 pic.twitter.com/7v8aT3jp7i
— Nancy Tant Official (Nancycatsings)🌈 (@Nancycatsings) July 17, 2018
The rainbow emoji is utilized extensively across digital platforms, including all major social media. Its first usage on Twitter dates to May 2011, where it was initially used to comment on weather or in long chains of colorful emojis without clear significance. Over time, it also gained an association with gay rights and culture, particularly in combination with a white flag emoji which served as a representation of a “pride” flag. The rainbow has been a symbol of LGBTQ pride since 1978, when the iconic flag, designed by Gilbert Baker, debuted at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.
A variant of the rainbow + white flag combination that also included a zero and a hidden variant selector was used as a “prank” in 2017 that caused iOS devices to crash.
In 2015, after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, self-described “queer trans feminist nerd” Noah Slater requested the Unicode Consortium—an organization that approves new emojis—add a rainbow flag that “unambiguously symbolizes queer pride.” It was officially added in flag form in 2016.
Facebook added a rainbow emoji in 2013 specifically in response to a Supreme Court decision affirming the reversal of California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriages. When they offered a rainbow flag emoji in June of 2017 for Pride Month, some Christian Facebook groups threatened to ban anyone who used it. One such group, Warriors for Christ, was consequently bombarded with rainbow emojis. Facebook has discontinued the flag emoji when they removed all special event related emojis.
Who uses ?
Unlike face-based emojis, the rainbow does not typically substitute for or convey an emotional state. Instead, it’s typically used more as an additional comment or for emphasis. You’ll also see it and its variations quite frequently in Twitter bios.
— Lily Nelsen (@LilyNelsenMusic) February 10, 2017
I'm only attracted to girls with the rainbow🌈emoji on their display name & bio. pic.twitter.com/XKyw6KlDRL
— Garvey (@iAmKingducer) September 7, 2018
Aside from decorative purposes, the rainbow emoji is associated with gay pride, from shorthand to indicate a person’s sexuality to showing support for gay rights.
Rainbow Pride merchandise is now available at various locations around Walt Disney World. 🌈 pic.twitter.com/sjB69r0LuL
— WDW News Today (@WDWNT) May 30, 2018
Its usage is widely positive and often playful, although its associations do make it a potential tool for negative usage, such as using it in a context that is negative toward LGBT people or culture.