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How Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag
Above is the original eight-striped rainbow flag, on display at the Oakland Museum of California.
It was in June 1978 that the flag first flew in a gay pride parade in San Francisco. The gay rights leader Harvey Milk and others had asked Gilbert Baker, who was known for his creative talents, to create an emblem that could promote their movement. So Baker dipped eight strips of fabric into trash cans filled with dye and stitched them together. Later versions of the flag were reduced to six.
Upon its debut, Baker sensed something special was happening. “It completely astounded me that people just got it, in an instant like a bolt of lightning — that this was their flag,” he wrote. “It belonged to all of us. It was the most thrilling moment of my life.” Baker, who died in 2017, refused to apply for a trademark. It was his gift to the world.
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