Creator of rainbow flag, symbol of gay rights, dies at 65

Gilbert Baker, a self-described "gay Betsy Ross" who in 1978 hand-dyed and stitched together eight strips of vibrantly colored fabric into a rainbow flag, instantly creating an enduring global symbol of gay pride, was found dead Friday at his home in New York City.

Baker died at 65 in his sleep at his NY home, said Jones, a longtime gay rights and AIDS activist. A condolence meet was organised in the Castro district of San Francisco on Friday evening.

He tweeted: "My dearest friend in the world is gone". "Gilbert Baker gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me 40 years of love and friendship".

However, the cause of the death has not been revealed.

The San Francisco-based activist died in his sleep on Thursday night at his NY home, friends said.

In 1978, he first designed the eight-colour flag representing the LGBTQ community for the city's gay freedom day, the pioneer to the modern pride parade, the BBC reported. While pink and indigo were removed, blue was replaced with turquoise, according to BBC.

Harvey Milk, the first out gay person elected to public office in California - who was later assassinated - asked Baker in 1978 to create a flag representing the gay rights movement.

"A flag translates into everything, from tacky souvenirs to the names of organizations and the way that flags function", Mr. Baker said in an interview in 2008. After being stationed in San Francisco, where he was honorably discharged in 1972, he made the city his home.

Lee said the rainbow flag is "more than just a symbol". Standing side-by-side with Harvey Milk, Gilbert first raised the flag here in San Francisco, but those rainbow colors are now seen around the world. A candlelight vigil was also held in San Francisco.

The man who created the LGBT community's now-iconic symbol - the rainbow flag - has died.

He went to work in 1979 for the Paramount Flag Company in San Francisco, where his window displays drew the attention of Mayor Dianne Feinstein, according to his website.

Born in Kansas in 1951, Baker later established himself as an artist in San Francisco after a spell in the army where he learned to sew.

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