Inventor of the gay rights rainbow flag dies

Dawn Ennis

Cleve Jones, also a civil rights activist, shared the news of Baker's death on Twitter.

Mr Jones urged friends in San Francisco to gather for an evening vigil under a rainbow flag in the city's Castro district. "I knew instantly when I saw the reaction that it was going to be something".

The Rainbow Flag went on to become the worldwide symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement and is arguably one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. "Gilbert Baker gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me 40 years of love and friendship". ABC7 News Reporter Lyanne Melendez had the opportunity to talk to Baker several times and she says she knows he would be tickled pink knowing that he's getting all the attention. According to some reports, Baker died in his sleep at his home in NY on March 30.

On the city's Gay Freedom Day Parade in 1978, Milk rode under the first rainbow flags sewn by Baker, and dyed by him and Jones.

Later, the flag was modified and reduced to six colours, removing pink and indigo, and replacing blue for turquoise.

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Gilbert Baker, who described himself as a "gay Betsy Ross", was found dead on Friday in his New York City home, the New York Times reports. 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.

"A flag really fit that mission, because that's a way of proclaiming your visibility, or saying, 'This is who I am!'" Baker told the MoMa in an interview.

In an interview Saturday, Jones recalled the rainbow flag's first appearance at the 1978 gay pride parade.

Born in Kansas in 1951, Baker served as an army medic between 1970 and 1972, stationed in San Francisco at the beginning of the gay liberation movement.

Since its introduction, the rainbow flag has become a universal symbol for inclusion, peace and love. Baker was approached by San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk to create something that would symbolize the community and take the place of the pink triangle used decades ago by the Nazis to identify homosexuals. He created rainbow flags for the recent ABC miniseries "When We Rise", about the gay-rights movement.

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