Gilbert Baker, creator of the iconic LGBTQ+ rainbow flag, passed away this weekend from hypertensive heart disease in his New York City home at just 65 years old.
Baker was born in Kansas in 1951, and made his way to San Francisco in early 1970 where he was stationed during his time with the United States Army. During this time, the gay rights movement was heading into full gear in San Francisco.
It was not until his honorable discharge from the army in 1972 that Baker taught himself how to sew. He created a variety of famous flags including special designs for the presidents of France, Venezuela and the Philippines as well as the flag for the 1984 Democratic National Convention.
The original pride flag, created in 1980, had eight colors instead of the commonly used six colors. The flag started with hot pink instead of the current red. Baker assigned meaning to each of the colors that he sewed into the flag. The hot pink stood for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit. Today’s iconic flag does not feature the hot pink or turquoise stripes.
As the creator of such an iconic flag, Baker modeled his drag name, “Busty Ross,” after the legendary Betsy Ross who created the flag for the United States of America.
The LGBTQ+ community and its allies mourn the loss of Baker and will continue to display his flag with honor