Artist and activist Gilbert Baker has died nearly 40 years after creating the Rainbow Flag that now symbolizes gay pride around the world, ABC 7 reports. Baker's death was first announced by fellow activist Cleve Jones. "Gilbert gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me forty years of love and friendship," Jones posted on Facebook. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Baker died in his sleep at his home in New York. He was 65.
Baker was asked by Harvey Milk to create something to replace the pink triangle used to identify homosexuals by the Nazis; he decided on a flag. "Flags are about power," ABC 7 quotes Baker as saying. "Flags say something." The first Rainbow Flag flew over the 1978 Gay Freedom Day celebration in San Francisco, according to the GLBT Historical Society, to which Baker gifted one of the sewing machines he used to make his flag. A memorial will be held for Baker Friday night in San Francisco. The GLBT Historical Society is asking that all Rainbow Flags be lowered to half staff in his honor. (Read more obituary stories.)