In 1978, Gilbert Baker (born in Kansas in 1951) designed the Rainbow (or Gay Pride) Flag
as a symbol of LGBT pride, liberation and diversity. "In the beginning the Rainbow Flag was about liberation," Baker said in a UK Gay News
op-ed piece. "It was about breaking free of an existence limited by fear and conformity, the right to express sexuality without shame or retaliation from those who legislate "morality.'"
Baker served in the U.S. Army from 1970 until 1972. After an honorable discharge he taught himself to sew. He began making banners and ultimately the Rainbow Flag for his friend Harvey Milk
, who was later assassinated on Nov 27, 1978.
The Rainbow Flag debuted at the 1978 San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. It has since been used around the world as a symbol of LGBT unity in many variations, including adaptations such as bumper stickers and decals. "A true flag," Baker said, "is torn from the soul of the people."
In 1979, Baker went to work at Paramount Flag Company in San Francisco (which closed its doors in 1987). Since, Baker has designed flags for many dignitaries and political figures, including then San Fransisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein. Baker also designed the flags for the 1984 Democratic National Convention.
The 25th Anniversary of The Rainbow Flag:
In 2003, Baker created a rainbow flag that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean in Key West (see picture to the right) to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the flag. With that creation, Baker broke his own record previously awarded in 1994 for his mile long Rainbow Flag in memory of the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
Pride Flag Not Finished?:
In a May 2008 UK Gay News op-ed article, Baker said, "In my view the rainbow flag is unfinished, as the movement it represents, an arc that begins well before me, its breadth far broader than all of our experiences put together, reaching the farthest corners of the world with a message of solidarity and a beacon of hope for those who follow in our footsteps."
Should The Pride Flag Be Redesigned?:
With the level of LGBT activism at heights unseen since Stonewall, is it time for a change? WNYC & PRI’s Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen
thinks a makeover is in order. The station asked listeners to redesign the rainbow flag for the 21st Century. Should the flag be redesigned or left alone? Share your comments
More Gilbert Baker Designs: