Gilbert Baker, activist and artist who created the Rainbow Pride Flag has died at the age of 65. He was found dead on Friday (3/31/17) at his home in New York City. The cause of his death has not been released as of this 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," Cleve Jones said on Twitter. Jones also invited mourners to meet him under a rainbow flag in the Castro district of San Francisco on Friday evening to remember his friend.
Gilbert Baker, who described himself as a “gay Betsy Ross”, hand-dyed and stitched the first pride flag in 1978 that quickly became an enduring international symbol of Gay Pride.
Baker was born in Chanute, Kansas on June 2, 1951. In the early 1970s, he was stationed in San Francisco while serving in the U.S. Army, at the start of the gay rights movement.
In 1978, Mr. Baker was asked by Harvey Milk, a city supervisor, and other gay rights leaders, to create an emblem that would represent the movement before a gay pride parade in San Francisco. Milk rode under the first rainbow flags made by Baker at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June 1978, just months before he was murdered by a former city supervisor.
Most recently, Mr. Baker was asked to create rainbow flags for the recent ABC mini-series “When We Rise,” about the gay-rights movement.
Mr. Baker will always be remembered as the creator of the Rainbow Pride Flag. He refused to apply for a trademark for his creation. “It was his gift to the world,” Mr. Jones said. “He told me when the flag first went up that he knew at that moment that it was his life’s work.”