The gay pride flag, rainbow flag or Pride Flag as it is known, is one of the symbols of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. It was created by vexillographer, Gilbert Baker. Born in Kansas in 1951, Baker was a U. S. Army officer stationed in San Francisco when the movement for gay rights began. There he befriended Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay elected politician (gunned down in November, 1978 by Dan White, his former colleague on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors). An activist who took up sewing after leaving the U.S. Army with an honorable discharge, Bakermade flags and banners for various causes including anti-Vietnam marches. His support for and participation in gay rights led him to create the rainbow flag to celebrate San Francisco’s Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade in June, 1978.
According to Cory Stottlemeyer’s “Gilbert Baker is still waving the flag,” www.365gay.com, Baker chose the rainbow because it represented “forever.” Though today’s flag consists of six colors, there were eight in his. Each color had a specific meaning. Pinkwas for sexuality; red stood for life; orange for healing; yellow depicted sunlight; green depicted nature; turquoise foretold magic/art; Indigo/ blue was for serenity/harmony; and violet symbolized spirit.
Gilbert Baker worked for the Paramount Flag company in 1979 and made flags for many a dignitary and politician including San Francisco’s former mayor, Dianne Feinstein reports Ramon Johnson in his article, “Gilbert Baker, Creator of the Gay Pride Flag, says Rainbow Flag Not Finished,” for http://gaylife.about.com. Ramon also stated that Gilbert created flags for the 1984 Democratic Convention.
When Gilbert relocated to New York City in 1994, he created what was then the world’s largest rainbow flag in honor of the Stonewall Riots 25th anniversary. In 2003, he made one in Key West that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean to celebrate the flag’s 25th anniversary. Marie Jo Ferron made a feature-length documentary of this feat for PBS National Television. Gilbert also recreated his original flag for the 2008 movie, Milk.
Some of Gilbert Baker’s quotes from www.365gy.com’s article: “Flags are greater than a symbol.” “Flags equal power.” “When you put a flag up, you’re showing power.”
Cory Stottlemeyer, “Gilbert Baker is still waving the flag.” www.365gay.com.
Ramon Johnson, “Gilbert Baker, Creator of the Gay Pride Flag, says Rainbow Flag Not Finished.” http://gaylife.about.com.