Uproxx reports that Gilbert Baker, the San Francisco artist who fashioned the rainbow flag that serves as the now-iconic symbol of the LGBTQ movement, has died. Baker, aged 65, first deployed the flag back in 1978, as a representation of the fight for gay rights and pride.
Originally from Kansas, Baker moved to the West Coast in the 1970s, quickly becoming involved in the gay rights movement in California. A friend of activist Harvey Milk, Baker designed and constructed the first rainbow flag for the Gay Freedom Day Parade—now San Francisco Pride—in June of 1978, just a few months before Milk’s death. The flag grew into an international symbol for gay rights, although the difficulty of finding cheap hot pink material forced Baker to cut his original eight-color design down to the more well-known six. Nevertheless, it flourished; last year, Baker presented the original version to then-President Barack Obama, who displayed it in the White House with pride.
Baker was recently portrayed in ABC’s When We Rise, based on a book by his long-time friend Cleve Jones. (Dylan Arnold and Jack Plotnick played Baker as a young man and as an adult.) Jones eulogized his friend today, writing “My dearest friend in the world is gone. Gilbert Baker gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me forty years of love and friendship.” Jones has called for friends to meet under “Gilbert’s flag” in San Francisco’s Castro district this evening, to remember and celebrate his legacy.
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