Gilbert Baker, creator of the rainbow flag dies, aged 65

Gilbert Baker. the designer who created the iconic rainbow flag, has died aged 65.

The San Francisco Chronicle announced Gilbert’s passing. The artist passed away in his sleep at his home in New York on Thursday.

The rainbow flag that is a symbol for the LGBTI+ communities was created by Baker for San Francisco’s Freedom Day celebrations in 1976. Originally the flag had eight colours but since 1979 it has usually had six colours.

The colors were determined to symbolize: life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), harmony (blue), and spirit (purple/violet). The removed colors stood for sexuality (pink) and art/magic (turquoise).

Baker created the flag after being challenged by gay rights activist Harvey Milk to create a symbol for the gay and lesbian community.

After Milk’s assassination in 1978 demand for the flag increased dramatically and it began to be commercially made. Due to a shortage of pink fabric the pink section was dropped, later the turquoise section was removed so the flag would look even when hung vertically.

Baker said he wanted to convey the idea of diversity and inclusion, using “something from nature to represent that our sexuality is a human right”.

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who wrote the Oscar award winning film Milk and the recent mini-series When We Rise, noted Baker’s passing.

“Rainbows weep. Our world is far less colourful without you, my love. Gilbert Baker gave us the rainbow flag to unite us. Unite again.” Black posted to social media site Twitter.

Veteran activist Cleve Jones marked Baker’s passing noting their long friendship.

“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 posted.


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