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Gilbert Baker - Biography

Gilbert Baker was born on June 2, 1951 in Chanutte, Kansas and died in NYC on March 31, 2017.
At the time of his death he was embarking on an ambitious display at SF Int’l. Airport, as well as other advocacy efforts against prejudice and hate. He was also scheduled to be honored in Parsons, KS at their film festival for his work on the Rainbow Flag. As any true drama “queen” would do, Gilbert insisted that the Chief of Police, Captain of the Fire Department, and a few military persons be there at all times for his safety and protection. He reveled in the fact that the sponsors in Parsons, Kansas agreed to all his demands. After all, who else from Parsons was a guest at the White House with President and Michelle Obama.

Moreover, Gilbert Baker was involved or named “grand marshal” at countless Pride Parades worldwide. As he was one of the first “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” he relished the spotlight whenever and wherever it could happen. Sadly, we who knew and worked with Gilbert Baker never witnessed any of his family at any of the many honors bestowed on Gilbert. They became known only after his death as he died without a will and his closest relatives were in charge of the estate. We felt that his LGBT alliance and identity stood in the way of a family that should have taken great pride in his attempts to make and leave the world a truly better place.

As is the case with many of us in the LGBT community Gilbert recounted his being harassed as a teen and clearly he was on the first stagecoach out of Parsons. He served his country in the US Army for 2 years and the blessing was that he was stationed in SF, just as the gay liberation movement was getting underway in the city.

Upon discharge from the Army, Gilbert remained in SF and worked at the Paramount Flag Company. His vision of the Rainbow Flag as worldwide symbol of gay pride and unity blossomed throughout his adult life. His ability to generate new thoughts and new ways of making art - changing the world, were countless.

Many of his ideas came to fruition, such as his mile long flag up 5th Ave. in 1994 in NYC during their gay pride parade to mark the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The flag broke the record for the world's largest flag. He surpassed that record in 2003, the 25th anniversary of the rainbow flag, by creating one that stretched "from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean in Key West," according to his biography.

Mr. Baker recently completed a nine-color rainbow flag that added the color lavender, for diversity, to go along with the original colors: hot pink represented sexuality; red, life; orange, healing; yellow, sunlight; green, nature; turquoise, magic/art; blue, serenity/ harmony; and violet, spirit.

The common rainbow flag seen today has six colors – the hot pink and turquoise were left off. His explanation for why he chose a rainbow design is simple. "It fits us," he explained in 2012. "We're all the colors, all the sexes, all the genders. Infinite people. Infinite colors."

He wrote published works, he marched and protested at every opportunity at significant risk. He loved thinking and doing “outside the box”. Like many great artists of the world Gilbert Baker’s name will fade with time but the Rainbow Flag is forever.  Like any great showman Gilbert Baker had his “back up crew” - Tom Taylor, Jerry Goldstein, and the Diversity Foundation of San Francisco.

PRESS CONTACT( do not publish)
Lawrence Helman Public Relations  - E-mail
1643 32 Ave. - SF, CA 94122 - Ph. /Fax: 415/ 661- 1260 / Cell 415/ 336- 8220