pride flag

Baker, an Army veteran, is responsible for the enduring symbol of the LGBT community.

Gilbert Baker, the civil rights activist who created the rainbow flag, has died at age 65.

Baker first designed the flag nearly 40 years ago for San Francisco Pride in 1978.

Cleve Jones shared the news on Facebook.

“I am heartbroken. My dearest friend in the world is gone,” Jones wrote. “Gilbert gave the world the Rainbow flag; he gave me forty years of love and friendship. I can’t stop crying. I love you forever Gilbert Baker.”

Serving in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1972, Baker was stationed in San Francisco at the beginning of the gay rights movement and became friends with Harvey Milk. After an honorable discharge, he taught himself how to sew and began creating banners for the anti-war and gay rights movement.

The first Pride flag had eight stripes, each with its own meaning: Red (life), hot pink (sexuality), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), turquoise (magic/art), blue (serenity), violet (spirit). Revised versions had just six colors, losing the hot pink and turquoise stripes.

The cause of Baker’s death has not been made public.

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