In honor of what would have been the 66th birthday of Gilbert Baker, the creator of the iconic rainbow flag that symbolizes LGBTQ equality, Google dedicated their homepage Doodle to him today. It was created by LGBT Doodler Nate Swinehart with the help of some other team members, and was done using actual colored fabric and filmed with stop-motion animation in an apartment not far from where Baker made the first rainbow flags in 1978 the attic of the Gay Community Center in San Francisco.
“We needed something beautiful, something from us,” Baker said “The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things. Plus, it’s a natural flag it’s from the sky!”
Baker did drag as a young man in the 1970s and thus had taught himself to sew. As Google recalls in a blog post about the Doodle, "Baker put his skills to work for the San Francisco gay community, making banners for marches and protests. In 1978 Baker used those skills to create a new symbol for the LGBT Community to replace the pink triangle, a symbol of oppression and devastation from the Nazi’s classification of LGBT people in World War II."
The first flag came together with the help pf 30 people hand-dying and sewing over 1000 yards of fabric and unlike the current version which uses six colors, the original had eight, symbolizing different aspects of the gay community.
Baker’s sister, Ardonna Cook, tells Google, “Our family is so proud of the legacy of activism and artistry that Gilbert has left to the world. He touched millions across the globe and empowered them to become stronger and more visible LGBT people. Gilbert led a bold and inspiring life by bringing The Rainbow Flag to life and it is that legacy which should guide us in respecting and celebrating diversity.”
Baker was depicted in the recent ABC miniseries When We Rise, which was based on the memoir by his longtime friend Cleve Jones, and one of his original flags was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 2015. Baker died in March at the age of 65.