In 1978, when Gilbert was tasked with creating a flag at the request of Harvey Milk for a gay pride event, he had no idea that the rainbow flag he would create would become the worldwide symbol, forever cementing his place and importance in helping to define the modern LGBTQ movement. The enduring legacy remains and his memoir will give readers great insight into his colorful and fascinating life.
World-famous political activist, designer and flag-maker Gilbert Baker (1951-2017) created the Rainbow Flag in 1978. Over the next four decades, his creation would become embraced across the world as the universal symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement.
Gilbert’s work as a lexicographer (flag maker) spanned nearly four decades and includes distinctions for creating two flags that attained the world’s records for their length.
Baker was born in Kansas in 1951 and suffered while growing up in a conservative state. He was drawn to art and fashion design as a child, which alienated him from peers. He hoped that being drafted into the US Army would be his escape, but he encountered severe homophobia during his time in basic training. When he opted to become a medic, Gilbert was stationed in San Francisco. There he found a home as an openly gay man, thriving in the counterculture movement of the post-Stonewall era.
RAINBOW FLAG: COLOR MEANINGS
The flag originally comprised eight stripes; Baker assigned specific meaning to each of the colors:
The rainbow flag, commonly known as the gay pride flag or LGBTQ pride flag, is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) pride and LGBT social movements.
THE STORY OF THE 6 COLOR FLAG. POPULAR SINCE 1979.
The organizers of the 1979 San Francisco parade decided to split the flag into two in order to decorate the two sides of the parade route. To achieve this, they needed an even number of stripes, so the turquoise stripe was dropped, which resulted in a six stripe version of the flag — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.