Born June 2, 1951, Gilbert Baker was an honorably discharged army veteran, who became an activist and vexillographer designing flags and banners for various causes around the world including anti-Vietnam protests.
“Flags are torn from the soul of the people.” — Gilbert Baker
Prior to 1978, there had been no unifying symbol for the ever growing ever more visible LGBT Community. San Francisco city supervisor, Harvey Milk and Gay rights activist, Cleve Jones, approached Gilbert Baker about creating a potential symbol.
“What I liked about the rainbow
is that it fits all of us.
It’s all the colors.
It represents all the genders.
It represents all the races.
It’s the rainbow of humanity.
– Gilbert Baker
The hand-dyed Pride Flag first raised over United Nations Plaza on June 25, 1978, looked much different with its eight stripes and a field of stars. Met with overwhelming enthusiasm and demand for the new flag, mass production necessitated simplification to a six-stripe design which would go one to become the symbol of the largest civil rights movement around the world.
Gilbert Baker’s flag design has always been in the public domain as his gift to our Community. It has been honored with inclusion into New York City’s MoMa collection and in 2016 President Obama invited him to The White House Pride Month reception at which Baker presented him with a hand dyed cotton rainbow flag.
Gilbert Baker passed away unexpectedly on March 31, 2017. The original flag that first flew over UN Plaza was thought to have been lost forever after a flood. Miraculously, part of it had been salvaged and was found last year.
As our Community has continued to grow, diversify, and self-identify, individual communities have created their own flags, much like each of the fifty states have their own flags, but we all stand together under Gilbert Baker’s Unity Pride Flag.
“Extending the legacy of Gilbert Baker, the creator of the LGBTQ Rainbow Flag. Activist, artist and educator.”
Read our previous Pride Month 2022 post