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Friday 15 November 2019

Gilbert Baker, creator of rainbow flag gay rights symbol, dies aged 65

Artist Gilbert Baker, designer of the rainbow flag, has died (Mark Lennihan/AP)
Artist Gilbert Baker, designer of the rainbow flag, has died (Mark Lennihan/AP)

The creator of the rainbow flag that has become a widely recognised symbol of gay rights has died aged 65.

Gilbert Baker's death was reported on Friday to the New York City medical examiner's office. The cause was not known.

Mr Baker was born in Kansas and served in the US army from 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.

Mr Baker's website said he taught himself to sew and began making banners for gay and anti-war marches.

He created the rainbow flag in 1978.

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".

Mr Lee added: "Gilbert was a trailblazer for LGBT rights, a powerful artist and a true friend to all who knew him."

Mr 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".

He also designed flags for civic occasions, including the inauguration of Dianne Feinstein, now California's senior US senator, as mayor of San Francisco.

Mr Baker 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.


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