Gilbert Baker, designer of the Rainbow Flag, dies aged 65

The artist and LGBT activist has long been credited with creating the now-iconic flag

Gilbert Baker
Gilbert Baker

Gilbert Baker, the artist and LGBT activist who designed the Rainbow Flag, has died aged 65.

Born in Kansas in 1951, Baker later established himself as an artist in San Francisco after a spell in the army where he learned to sew.

In an effort to unite the city’s gay community, Baker created the original eight-colour Rainbow Flag in 1978 for San Francisco’s ‘gay freedom day’ – a pre-cursor to the now customary Gay Pride marches. Baker’s design placed meaning on each colour: Pink (sexuality), Red (life), Orange (healing), Yellow (sunlight), Green (nature), Turquoise (art), Indigo (harmony) and Violet (human spirit). It has since been reduced to six colours, with pink and indigo removed. Blue is now used instead of turquoise.

Discussing his design at a 2015 exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art, Baker said: “I decided that we should have a flag; that a flag fit us as a symbol, that we are a people – a tribe, if you will. And flags are about proclaiming power, so it’s very appropriate.”

Baker passed away at his home in New York City on Thursday night (March 30). He was 65.

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black tweeted in tribute: “Rainbows weep. Our world is far less colourful without you, my love. Gilbert Baker gave us the rainbow flag to unite us. Unite again.”

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