Gilbert Baker (June 2, 1951 – March 31, 2017) was an American artist, gay rights activist, and designer of the rainbow flag (1978). Baker’s flag became widely associated with LGBT rights causes, a symbol of gay pride that has become ubiquitous in the decades since its debut. California state senator Scott Wiener said Baker “helped define the modern LGBT movement”.
Baker first created the Rainbow Flag with a collective in 1978. He refused to trademark it, seeing it as a symbol that was for the LGBT community. In 1979, Baker began work at Paramount Flag Company in San Francisco, then located on the southwest corner of Polk Street and Post Street in the Polk Gulch neighborhood. Baker designed displays for Dianne Feinstein, the Premier of China, the presidents of France, Venezuela, and the Philippines, the King of Spain, and many others. He also designed creations for numerous civic events and San Francisco Gay Pride. In 1984, he designed flags for the Democratic National Convention.
In 1994, Baker moved to New York City, where he lived for the rest of his life. Here, he continued his creative work and activism. That year he created the world’s largest flag (at that time) in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots.