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PASSAGES Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker dies
2017-03-31

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Gilbert Baker—best known for creating the LGBT symbol known as the rainbow flag—died in his sleep on March 30 in New York City's Harlem neighborhood. He was 65.

Baker's first flag ( which had eight colors, but which now has six, after pink and turquoise were dropped ) flew over the 1978 Pride festivities in San Francisco. Harvey Milk, San Francisco's first openly gay supervisor, marched under that first rainbow flag in the June 1978 San Francisco Gay Freedom parade—months before Milk was assassinated.

Baker was a former U.S. Army soldier who taught himself to sew. He rejected other ideas, such as the pink triangle and the Greek letter lambda, viewing the rainbow as inclusive, celebratory and, of course, colorful.

"That day when he raised the first rainbow flag, he knew that was his life's work. And for every march, every protest, every celebration, every memorial, he was always sewing and sewing and sewing," said Cleve Jones, according to SFGate.com .

ABC News noted that San Francisco's GLBT Historical Society wrote on its Facebook page that Gilbert had donated one of the sewing machines he used to create the flag. Baker also donated one of the 100 hand-dyed reproductions of the flag he made several years ago.

A candlelight vigil was held March 31 at Castro and Market streets in San Francisco. During the event, the main rainbow flag in the Castro was lowered in Baker's honor and replaced with a new one.

The SFGate.com item is at SFGate.com/bayarea/article/Gilbert-Baker-designer-of-the-rainbow-flag-dies-11042312.php. The ABC News item is at abcnews.go.com/US/gilbert-baker-creator-iconic-lgbt-rainbow-flag-dies/story.


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