• Gilbert Baker on January 7, 2016 in New York City. (Getty Images North America)Source: Getty Images North America
Gilbert Baker was 65 years old.
Stephanie Marie Anderson

3 Apr 2017 - 12:33 PM  UPDATED 3 Apr 2017 - 12:33 PM

American artist and LGBTQIA+ activist Gilbert Baker has passed away aged 65.

Cleve Jones, a fellow activist and author, whose novel When We Rise was recently adapted into a miniseries, announced the news on Twitter on March 31.

Baker - a veteran who served in the US Army from 1970 to 1972 - was the man behind the gay pride rainbow flag, originally designing it in 1978 for 'Gay Freedom Day' in San Francisco, which would evolve into the Pride celebrations we know today. 

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Tasked with the responsibility of creating banners for gay and antiwar street protests by activist and friend Harvey Milk, the flag originally had eight colours, and each colour represented a different aspect of humanity:

Eventually, the flag would be reduced to six colours.

“I am heartbroken,” Cleve Jones wrote in a Facebook post. “I can’t stop crying. I love you forever Gilbert Baker.”

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black also posted a tribute to the activist, stating that he was "a mess" over the news.

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Baker spoke about creating the flag in this PBS documentary in 2015:

“Flags are about power,” Baker told ABC7 news. “Flags say something. You put a rainbow flag on your windshield and you’re saying something.”