Today, June 2, would have been Gilbert Baker’s 66th birthday. Google is celebrating the life of a man who created the rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBTQ community, with an all-new Google Doodle. Here are 5 key facts to know about Gilbert!
1. Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag, a symbol of LGBTQ pride around the world. He stitched the first rainbow flag for the LGTBQ community in 1978. He gathered 30 people in the attic of the Gay Community Center in San Francisco to hand-dye and sew together over 1,000 yards of cotton, according to his Google Doodle page. The original rainbow flag included 8 colors that represented different aspects of the gay community. The modern day rainbow flag includes six colors: red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and purple.
2. He was in the military. Gilbert served in the United States army from 1970 to 1972. He worked as a medic and helped treat injured soldiers who had served in the Vietnam War, according to Heavy.com. He was stationed in San Francisco right around the time the gay rights movement started gaining steam. He was honorably discharged from the military in 1972.
3. He taught himself to sew. After he left the Army in 1972, he taught himself to sew. “Once I was finally liberated from my Kansas background, the first thing I did was get a sewing machine,” he told Refinery29 in 2015. “Because it’s 1972 and I have to look like Mick Jagger and David Bowie every single second. Taffeta jumpsuits.” He also performed as a drag queen, and later used the name Busty Ross.
4. He didn’t talk to his parents for 10 years after coming out as gay. Gilbert came out as gay when he was 19. “My parents didn’t talk to me for ten years, but it allowed me to get past my own suicidal urges, it allowed me to become the artist that was inside of me and it allowed me to say, ‘Well, you know, I can have a dream and I can go for it,’” he told Refinery29.
5. He died in 2017, just a few months shy of his 66 birthday. Gilbert passed away on March 31, 2017, in New York City due to cardiovascular disease.
HollywoodLifers, did you know Gilbert created the rainbow flag? Let us know!