A march and rally with today congregate on the streets in the West Village in New York City outside the historically important Stonewall Inn to commemorate the life and activism of Gilbert Baker; creator of the wildly important and iconic rainbow pride flag.
Baker passed away on March 31st of this year and will be remembered as one of the most important names in modern queer history after designing a symbol of not only LGBT resistance and fight, but love, compassion, solidarity and social change. To celebrate all he did for the community, activists and artists alike will march as a product of love and admiration, with Baker’s friend’s (and fellow activists) Ann Northrop and Charley Beal attending.
At 8:00pm, participants will march down Christopher Street to Christopher Street Pier, carrying banners created by Gilbert Baker. They will raise a Rainbow Flag and call for a rededication to progressive and radical activism, completing the tribute at 9:00pm. Speakers will celebrate the life, art and radical legacy of Gilbert Baker through personal recollections, resistance speeches and Baker’s own political speeches.
The first rainbow flag was designed by Baker in 1978 after he had lived in San Francisco for eight years after his time in the Army. Baker moved to the city to pursue his dream of becoming an artist after he was discharged.
Four years after settling in the city, the course of Baker’s life changed forever when he met Harvey Milk, a man who would go on to become the first openly gay man elected to public office. Milk –an icon of the LGBT+ movement– had campaigned on a positive message of hope for young gay people, refusing to hide or apologise for his sexuality. After winning the election, Milk asked Baker to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community – a positive alternative to the pink triangle which was once imposed by Nazis to identify gay men.
“The flag is an action – it’s more than just the cloth and the stripes. When a person puts the Rainbow Flag on his car or his house, they’re not just flying a flag. They’re taking action.” – Gilbert Baker.