Artist Gilbert Baker, who created the iconic gay pride rainbow flag in 1978, has died at age 65.
Baker was an Army vet who lived in San Francisco in the late ’70s, where he met politician Harvey Milk. Baker created the flag as a symbol of gay rights and anti-war protest. His cause of death is currently unknown.
“He helped Long Island native Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office, with banners and flags that helped to frame the message for the LGBT community as one of hope and change,” Dr. David Kilmnick, CEO of the LGBT Network, said in a statement.
“With Gilbert’s passing, there are candlelight vigils being held all over the United States and at our four LGBT Centers in New York City and Long Island we will be hanging the iconic flag at half mass,” he continued.
Baker refused to copyright the pride flag. He went on to create other works for groups like the Democratic National Convention. He relocated to New York City in the 1990s, where he lived until his passing.
Baker had an abstract interpretation for each color in the rainbow flag:
Red – Life
Orange – Healing
Yellow – Sunlight
Green – Nature
Turquoise – Magic/Art
Violet – Spirit