Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco-based activist and artist best known for creating the rainbow flag representing gay rights, has died at the age of 65, his longtime friend announced on social media on Friday. No details were immediately available on the cause of Baker’s death or where he died. According to the biography posted on his official website, he had been living in New York City. He was born in Kansas in 1951 and was stationed in San Francisco while serving in the U.S. Army in the early 1970s, at the start of the gay rights movement.
My dearest friend in the world is gone. Clive Baker gave the world the rainbow flag, he gave me forty years of love and friendship.
Cleve Jones, via Twitter
According to his website, Baker began making banners for gay rights and anti-war protests, often at the request of Harvey Milk, who would become the first openly gay man elected to public office in California when he won the 1977 race for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk rode under the first rainbow flags made by Baker at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June 1978, just months before the politician was murdered by a former city supervisor.