Gilbert Baker, the creator of the iconic rainbow flag that has become a widely recognised symbol of LGBT rights, has died.
Tributes have poured in from across the globe for Baker – who died aged 65 in New York – with many sharing touching messages describing how the artist changed their lives.
thank you to Gilbert Baker for the pride flag, for creating something so special to the LGBT community, rest peacefully pic.twitter.com/DcGIE1uiYj
— dannii (@sleeplessurie) April 1, 2017
Rip Gilbert Baker. Thank you for the symbol of hope you gave so many, we will continue to fly high 🏳️🌈
— noe (@gloomvinyls) April 1, 2017
Baker was born in Kansas and served in the US army for two years between 1970 to 1972.
He was stationed in San Francisco in the early days of the gay rights movement and continued to live there after his honourable discharge.
Baker taught himself to sew and began making banners for gay and anti-war marches, before creating the rainbow flag in 1978.
— Beth Louise (@Beth_Evans13) April 1, 2017
He later moved to New York in 1994 and created a mile-long rainbow flag for the gay pride parade, which that year commemorated the 25th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
Baker said in a 2008 interview that he knew instantly from the way people reacted to the flag that it was “going to be something. I didn’t know what or how or – but I knew”.
— Tyler Treptow-Bowman (@Tyler_J_Treptow) March 31, 2017
RIP Gilbert Baker. You created a legacy and gave us a symbol of hope and strength, seven beautiful colors! Our community mourns! pic.twitter.com/yjxvCQKIo8
— Eddy Bee (@EddyBee26) April 1, 2017
San Francisco mayor Edwin Lee said in a statement that the flag “has become a source of solace, comfort and pride for all those who look upon it”.
He added, echoing many sentiments shared: “Gilbert was a trailblazer for LGBT rights, a powerful artist and a true friend to all who knew him.”