Gilbert Baker – Early Life, Harvey Milk & Rainbow Pride Flag

Gilbert Baker is an artist and LGBTQ rights activist who created the rainbow flag.

Who Was Gilbert Baker?

Self-described as the “gay Betsy Ross,” Gilbert Baker was an American artist, LGBTQ rights activist and the creator of the rainbow flag. A skilled vexillographer (flag maker), his work spanned 30 years and broke two world records. Baker’s artistic work helped define and solidify the LGBTQ movement. He died on March 31, 2017, at the age of 65.

Early Life 

Gilbert Baker was born on June 2, 1951 in the tiny rural town of Chanute, Kansas. His parents were prominent community citizens; his mother was an educator and his father served as a judge and lawyer. Baker had an outgoing and friendly personality as a child but felt ostracized because of his gay identity. After graduating from high school, Baker attended college for a year before the Army drafted him. Baker was stationed in San Francisco just as the gay liberation movement was beginning to take shape. After serving a short two-year term, he was honorably discharged and settled into the thriving activist community of San Francisco.

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