Gilbert Baker, inventor of gay rights rainbow flag, dies at 65

Gilbert Baker, the San-Francisco-based artist who created the rainbow flag as a symbol for the gay community, has died. He was a former U.S. soldier, as well as a close friend of murdered activist and politician Harvey Milk.

"We stood there and watched and saw the flags, and their faces lit up", Jones said in a phone interview Friday.

He wrote: "My dearest friend in the world is gone".

"I am saddened to hear of the passing of Gilbert Baker, the creator of the iconic and beloved rainbow flag".

Baker died at 65 in his sleep at his NY home, said Jones, a longtime gay rights and AIDS activist.

The man who created the rainbow flag, which became a symbol for the gay rights movement, has died. 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. "Carrying rainbow flags and a banner that read "Rise and Resist", people marched down the street chanting "Long live Gilbert Baker" and "We love Gilbert Baker". He was stationed in San Francisco just at the start of the gay liberation movement.

Baker also designed a special rainbow colored scarf that was cut to celebrate the end a massive renovation at the center in 2015.

Baker taught himself to sew and made banners for gay and anti-war protest marches, often at a moments notice, at the behest of his friend Harvey Milk- later elected to office and assassinated Nov 27, 1978.

"Flags are about power", Baker told ABC7 news. Our world is far less colorful without you, my love.

From daylight to dark, and with the help of some gusty winds, the iconic rainbow flag that has come to symbolize the LGBT community flew proudly over San Francisco's Castro District where hundreds of people came together to mourn the man who created it almost 40 years ago. It completely astounded me that people just got it, in an instant like a bolt of lightning - that this was their flag. 'Flags say something. You put a rainbow flag on your windshield and you're saying something'.

Our thoughts go out to Baker's family and friends.

San Francisco's Mayor Ed Lee hung a gay pride flag at half-staff from the United Nations Plaza in honor of Baker.

  • Salvatore Jensen