So, rainbows are a pretty popular theme. They are a great way of using a bunch of crayons at once. They are an effective symbol for queer rights.
That aside, everybody’s off the mark. The rainbows we see on cutesy t-shirts, ironic t-shirts, children’s t-shirts, indie band t-shirts, all over the internet, on kids’ and hip young adults’ room dressings and school supplies, etc etc etc is about as representative of a rainbow as a lion rampant is representative of an actual lion.
Now then, a picture like this:
Captures effectively nothing that feels like a rainbow. For one, there’s none of the eerie, late in the day cloudy feeling that is rainbow weather. For another, it is bold and loud as all get out, when in real life it’s this faint, silent, intangible thing that you know everybody just HAS to see but they keep going “Where? Where is it?” and squinting as you angrily point at the whole sky.
But 90% of the time, it’s a motif like one of those big lollipops that are too big to eat, cute cupcakes that are too cute to eat, or adorable little converse all-stars, or hearts. A lot like hearts, because those also completely miss the mark representation-wise, and are pretty trite considering how vague their subject matter (love, and some kind of awe or wonder, respectively?) It’s like the phrase “BFF!” to describe a dear and loyal friend. Forget the pat short-hand! A rainbow is like the connection we share with a special few: it is rare, beautiful, fleeting, has seven visible colors and is in the form of an arch.