Gilbert Baker Biography
Gilbert Baker was an American activist and designer, known for being the designer and creator of the flag of the LGBT community. He was born in the United States on June 2, 1951.
Between 1970 and 1972 he was part of the United States Army, where he was assigned to San Francisco at the time of the LGBT liberation movement. After graduating with honors from the army, he decided to learn sewing and started creating banners for protests against the war and for the rights of homosexuals. At that time, he met the politician and activist Harvey Milk, with whom he had a great friendship.
Around 1979, he started working at the Paramount Flag Company in San Francisco. He began designing advertising panels for political figures as prime minister of the People’s Republic of China, for the presidents of France, Venezuela, and the Philippines, and for the king of Spain. He also did some work for the Democratic Party, as well as several creations for numerous civic events, for the celebration of the International Day of LGBT Pride in San Francisco.
On June 25, 1978, at the LGBT Pride Festival, Gilbert Baker for the first time waved the flag he represented to LGBT communities; which was the creation of the most important symbol for the LGBT people. The first two flags of the parade were sewn and dyed by hand. Their colors reflected the diversity of the LGBT community. The eight colors that makeup Baker’s design have the following meanings:
- Pink: Sexuality.
- Red: Life.
- Orange: Health.
- Yellow: Sunlight.
- Green: nature.
- Turquoise: Magic-Art.
- Indigo / Blue: Serenity.
- Violet: Spirit.
In 1994, Gilbert Baker traveled to New York where he continued with his creative work and activism. In that year he created the world’s largest flag (at that time) for the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
Around 2003, with the objective of commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the LGBT flag, Gilbert Baker made a two-kilometer rainbow flag that crossed Key West from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. After the celebrations, he sent several parts of the flag to more than a hundred cities around the world.
The design of the flag had some changes, due to the availability of fabrics in the market. In 2008, the most widespread variant has six horizontal stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet, and red appears at the top, as it would appear on a rainbow; so Baker referred to it as “the commercial version,” because it was born from the need to mass production.
Gilbert Baker died in New York while he was sleeping on March 31, 2017, at the age of 65.
On June 2, 2017, Google dedicated a doodle in tribute to the 66th anniversary of the birth of Gilbert Baker.
PARTICIPATIONS IN CINEMA AND TELEVISION
In 2003, Gilbert Baker and his project in Key West appeared in the documentary Rainbow Pride, by Marie Jo Ferron.
Gilbert Baker recreated the original rainbow flag for the movie Milk in 2008.