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

The creator of the rainbow flag that has become a widely recognised symbol of gay rights has died aged 65.

Baker died in his sleep at his home in NY, friends said.

The Advocate reported that Gilbert Baker died at age 65, according to a social media post from his friend Cleve Jones.

The cause of death for Gilbert Baker was unknown as of Friday evening.

Baker was found at his home on Friday. That was how met and became friends with Harvey Milk, who became the first openly-gay elected supervisor of San Francisco in 1977, CBS Chicago recalled in a 2012 story.

Before a gay-pride parade in 1978 in San Francisco, Harvey Milk, a city supervisor and gay-rights leader who was assassinated that year, joined others in asking Mr. Baker to create an emblem to represent the movement.

The artist and gay activist Gilbert Baker has died in NY; he was 65.

Gilbert Baker and a group of volunteers filled trash cans with dye in the attic of San Francisco's Gay Community Center. He created rainbow flags for the recent ABC miniseries "When We Rise", about the gay-rights movement.

His original design included eight colored bars running horizontally, corresponding to values he believed represented the diversity of the gay community. He ended up dropping the pink stripe, as it was too expensive to mass produce, and turquoise, to go with an even number of colors. He said Baker rejected advice to patent the rainbow flag design and never made a penny off it.

Baker created the Rainbow Flag while living in San Francisco after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army.

"As an artist, Baker returned again and again to variations on the Rainbow Flag motif and his artwork and flag creations have appeared in galleries and museums around the word", the biography says.

Describing the experience of unveiling the flag, Baker recalled "raising it up and seeing it there blowing in the wind for everyone to see". He also kept working on the rainbow pride flag and making it known internationally, his website said.

Mr Lee added: "Gilbert was a trailblazer for LGBT rights, a powerful artist and a true friend to all who knew him". Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

  • Salvatore Jensen