Rainbow Pride Flag Creator Gilbert Baker Dies Aged 65

Gilbert Baker, the San Francisco LGBTI activist and artist credited with creating the rainbow pride flag representing LGBTI rights, has died at the age of 65.

“My dearest friend in the world is gone. Clive Baker gave the world the rainbow flag, he gave me forty years of love and friendship,” close friend Cleve Jones tweeted.

According to an official biography of Baker, he served in the army from 1970 to 1972, and was stationed in San Francisco at the beginning of the gay liberation movement.

He became close friends with fellow activist Harvey Milk and after an honorable discharge, Baker taught himself how to sew and and made the first rainbow flags. They made their debut on June 25, 1978 at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, the biography reads.

Baker told CBC Radio in 2015 that the rainbow flag was created as a response to the homophobic pink triangle.

“They had a whole code of emblems that they used to oppress people, and we needed something to answer that,” he said.

He said his flag originally had eight colours, each with its own meaning: pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for serenity and purple for spirit. The pink and turquoise were later dropped.

He couldn’t ever receive royalties for the public domain flag but Baker said it was “the most important thing I will ever do in my life.”

In 2008, Baker recreated his 1970s-era banners and flags for the Oscar-winning film Milk, starring Sean Penn.

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