What’s loud, proud and contains nearly 3400 squares of fabric stitched together? The Long Beach Pride flag in all its rainbow glory.

This year the thousands of spectators who flock to Ocean Boulevard to take part in the annual Long Beach Pride celebration will behold the Celebrating Diversity Pride Flag, a massive, quilted art piece created by Argentinian textile artists Leo Chiachio and Daniel Giannone in collaboration with the Museum of Latin American Art and the Long Beach AIDS Food Store.

“I’m so overcome with emotion,” John Newell, President of the Long Beach AIDS Food Store said upon seeing the flag. “This is about today. This is about people that are still alive, this is about pride and diversity in our community for ourselves, our allies and for our brothers and sisters.”

After hundreds of fabric donations, 500 hours of labor and two broken sewing machines, the Buenos Aires-based artists are proud to present their masterwork to the Long Beach LGBTQ community this Sunday, May 19. If you can’t make it there to see it with your own eyes, or even if you can, here are a few glimpses of it.

Holding the quilted flag made entirely out of dyed bed sheets is (left to right) Buenos Aires artist Leo Chiaco; President of Long Beach AIDS food store, John Newell; Buenos Aires artist, Daniel Giannone; President of the Board of Directors of the AIDS Food Store, Jean Hartman; and Secretary of the Board of Directors of the AIDS Food Store, Lena Ragusa. “There’s just so much love on this quilt, for the whole community,” Jean Hartman, President of the Board of Directors of the AIDS Food Store said. Photo by Cheantay Jensen.

Buenos Aires-based textile artists Leo Chiaco and Daniel Giannone sit atop their biggest creative undertaking. “We like to work with fabric but especially in this case because we liked the idea of working with what the world has already given you,” Giannone said. “You give the materials a second life.” After spending two months cooped up inside the walls of MOLAA, the artist duo described feelings of excitement and awe in seeing their piece laid out its entirety. Photo by Cheantay Jensen.

Nearly every square contains words and drawings that celebrate diversity, encourage self-love and uplift the LGBTQ community. “Over 3,000 people participated in this, which means over 3,000 opportunities to reflect on diversity,” artist Giannone explained. “Each square gave us an opportunity to speak with the community about diversity about how important it is and what it means to them; diversity in every sense.” Photo by Cheantay Jensen.

In preparation for the parade, Allen Carcagenn from the Signarama company punches grommets into the outer edges of the light fabric so that it can be easily carried and later hung. Photo by Cheantay Jensen.

Allen Carcagenn and Joe Parks from Signarama punch over 100 grommets into the enormous quilted flag. “It’s breathtaking when you really soak in everything that went into this,” Lena Ragusa, Secretary of the Board of Directors of the AIDS Food Store said. Photo by Cheantay Jensen.

Steve Lowery is the Long Beach Post's Arts & Culture editor. You can follow him @SteveLowery12.

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