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Gilbert Baker Dies: Rainbow Flag Creator was 65

Image: Gilbert Baker Dies: Rainbow Flag Creator was 65

Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker poses at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on January 7, 2016, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 03 Apr 2017 01:20 PM

Gilbert Baker, the creator of the rainbow flag that represents the LGBT community, died Thursday night in New York City at the age of 65.

Baker, an artist and activist, came up with the idea as a way to unite the LGBT community in San Francisco, and it made its debut in 1978 as part of the Gay Freedom Day Parade, Rolling Stone reported.

Baker told an audience in 2015 at the Museum of Modern Art that "a flag fit us as a symbol, that we are a people, a tribe if you will."

Calling himself a "gay Betsy Ross," Baker stitched together eight strips of hand-dyed colored fabric into the rainbow symbol before its debut, according to The New York Times.

Baker had created other symbols for protests and marches. The creations often included a pink triangle to remind people of the icon used by Nazis in World War II to identify gay men in concentration camps.

Harvey Milk, a city supervisor in San Francisco before his assassination the same year, had been one of the people asking Baker to create a symbol for the gay and lesbian movement for the 1978 gay pride parade.

Baker prepared the dye in trash cans in the attic of the city’s Gay Community Center. Friend and fellow activist Cleve Jones told The New York Times people present at the unveiling "saw the flags, and their faces lit up." They "knew immediately that it was our flag."

The initial rainbow flag had eight colors to signify various themes: pink (sexuality), red (life), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), orange (healing), violet (human spirit), indigo (harmony), and turquoise (art).

The flag was later reduced to six colors. Pink and indigo were removed and blue eventually replaced turquoise.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee honored Baker by hanging a rainbow flag at half-staff at the city’s United Nations Plaza.

Lee tweeted: "The passing of gay rights activist Gilbert Baker is a loss for #SF & the #LGBT community. Thank you for the lasting gift."

A cause of death wasn't reported, but Jones told the Los Angeles Times that Baker, who had suffered a massive stroke several years ago, died in his sleep.

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Gilbert Baker, the creator of the rainbow flag that represents the LGBT community, died Thursday night in New York City at the age of 65.
gilbert baker, dies, rainbow, flag, creator
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2017-20-03
Monday, 03 Apr 2017 01:20 PM
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