Gilbert Baker

Gilbert Baker, the creator of the globally adopted gay rainbow flag, was honoured at last weekend’s San Francisco Pride celebrations.

Baker, a flag maker and activist, designed the flag for the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade, inspired by the hippy era, as well as the black civil rights movement.

The flag debuted at the same 1978 parade celebrations at which Harvey Milk made his famous speech, telling his audience “My name is Harvey Milk, and I want to recruit you”.

Earlier this month, Baker told Britain’s The Independent: “I almost instantly thought of using the rainbow. To me, it was the only thing that could really express our diversity, beauty and our joy. I was astounded nobody had thought of making a rainbow flag before because it seemed like such an obvious symbol for us.”

On Sunday, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and the Icaris 76 Production Flag Ensemble performed a dance tribute to Baker (61) and his enduring design.

Baker, who now lives in New York, was presented with the first Gilbert Baker Pride Founders Award by Brendan Behan, Executive Director of San Francisco Pride.

“I just want to say thank you so much San Francisco. You will forever be in the fabric of the rainbow flag because we made it right here. I’m very moved,” said Baker.

The original flag had eight stripes, each colour representing a component of the LGBT community: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit.

Due to difficulties in reproducing hot pink and turquoise at the time, those colours were dropped, leaving the six-coloured version of the flag most often used today. It has become a universal symbol of the LGBT community around the world.

Watch a video of the tribute and Gilbert Baker receiving his award below.

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