Published: Sun, April 02, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Creator of rainbow flag, symbol of gay rights, dies at 65

Creator of rainbow flag, symbol of gay rights, dies at 65

"My dearest friend in the world is gone", Jones wrote.

After the 1978 parade, Mr. Baker joined a flag company in San Francisco that supported his idea of mass-producing his creation, but he later left for a career in art and design.

No details were immediately available on the cause of Baker's death or where he died.

The result was the iconic rainbow flag recognized as a symbol of the LGBT rights movement around the world.

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black tweeted in tribute: "Rainbows weep".

Supervisor Scott Weiner credited him with helping to "define the modern [LGBT] movement". "Rest in power, Gilbert".

Baker was born in 1951 in Kansas and was an Army veteran. Upon being honorably discharged from the military, Baker stayed in San Francisco and immersed himself in the gay and lesbian community.

A few years ago, Baker suffered a major stroke that left him disabled, but he mostly recovered and taught himself to sew again, Jones told CNN. Using his newfound skill of sewing, he turned out numerous banners for gay and anti-war protests for his friend Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California.

A crowd in San Francisco gathered to mourn the loss of artist and civil rights activist Gilbert Baker.

A flag, he once said, is "a way of proclaiming your visibility, saying, 'This is who I am!'"

He was known for creating the eight-colour flag in 1978 for New York's gay freedom day, which is now the modern pride parade.

When gay marriage was legalized in 2015, homes and institutions around the country hung up the rainbow flag.

The flag was later modified by reducing the colors to its present six. Since its first iterations it has lost two colors-pink fabric was too expensive and blue and turquoise were combined into royal blue-but it remains a foundational emblem.

"We are honoured that Gilbert personally made the giant rainbow flag enjoyed by millions of spectators at Pride in London over the past decade".

"It's an example of how one person can have an incredible and brilliant idea that reaches not just millions, but hundreds of millions of people", Jones added. "Our job as gay people was to come out, to be visible, to live in the truth as I say, to get out of the lie". "It is the embodiment of the LGBT community, and it has become a source of solace, comfort and pride for all those who look upon it", Lee said. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

A memorial will be held Friday at 7 Market and Castro streets.

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