Tag Archives: Gilbert Baker

Queer Activist Want To Remove Gilbert Baker's LGBT PRIDE Flag from Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco

Queer Activists Want To Remove Gilbert Baker’s LGBT PRIDE Flag from Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco

There is a war brewing in San Francisco over one of the most, if not the most iconic symbol to the LGBT community. Gilbert Baker’s LGBT Rainbow Pride flag. A small number of very vocal queer activist are calling for it’s removal from Harvey Milk Memorial Plaza in San Francisco and that it be replaced by the new “Progressive Pride flag”

“The flag for some Black and brown people, they don’t feel it represents them,” says Carnell Freeman, executive co-chair of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District. “But I think it depends on who you’re talking to. For many white gays, they’ll say they think the Progress Flag is not attractive and that they’d keep it as it is, as a rainbow. If you talk to most people of color or allies, they will say, you know, it’s time for a change.”

For those of you who are unaware. Gilbert Baker designed the Gay Pride Flag in San Francisco in 1978 for the Gay Freedom Day Parade (now San Francisco Pride) at the request of Harvey Milk as a symbol of out hope, love, and freedom . Originally it featuring eight colors but simplified to six for easier reproduction, each stripe represents a value, including red for life, blue for harmony and peace and purple for spirit. Baker never trademarked the flag, believing it would flourish as a symbol for the community only if it were free to reproduce.

The Gilbert Baker Foundation, has started a Change.org petition of its own calling for the landmark designation of the pole, which was erected in 1997 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Milk’s historic victory as the first openly gay elected official in California history. It argues that the pole and the flag constitute a piece of installation art created by Baker that deserves to be protected. Cultural institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York have examples of Baker’s flag in their collections.. The petition has more than 6500 signatures. to date. (<– CLICK LINK to sign.)

 “Hundreds of thousands of gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people in the United States died of AIDS while activists — many of whom themselves succumbed to the epidemic — fought, pleaded, lobbied, petitioned, marched, and protested (and continue to do so all over the world!) while carrying this flag and its predecessors, all designed by Gilbert Baker.”  The Castro Merchants Association said in a press release issued last week..  Masood Samereie the president of the organization stated that “we would support any community effort to erect an additional flagpole or some other installation in a significant location in the neighborhood to fly flags that symbolize the diversity of our LGBTQ+ residents and visitors, and would use any influence we have with the city to push this through.

Many in the Castro neighborhood are saying they find the whole discourse around the issue is getting heated and they feared getting involved due to possible retaliation. A Castro resident and business owner, who asked to remain anonymous, described the situation as “the left eating its own.”

History, especially LGBT history should never be edited, fabricated or erased said gay activist, historian and Back2Stonewall website owner Will Kohler. In my opinion a second flagpole is the best option. “Our proud and brave historical past must be preserved. Only from the past can we learn to fight for our future.”

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Gay History: The Late Gilbert Baker On Why He Created The Rainbow Flag

The Late Gilbert Baker On Why He Created The Rainbow Flag
Gilbert Baker making flags for the 1998 Pride Parade

In 1978, when I thought of creating a flag for the gay movement (at Harvey Milk’s request) there was no other international symbol for us than the pink triangle, which the Nazis used to identify homosexuals in concentration camps. Even though the pink triangle was and still is a powerful symbol, it was very much forced upon us. I almost instantly thought of using the rainbow. To me, it was the only thing that could really express our diversity, beauty and our joy. I was astounded nobody had thought of making a rainbow flag before because it seemed like such an obvious symbol for us. A true flag is not something you can really design.

“A true flag is torn from the soul of the people. A flag is something that everyone owns and that’s why they work. The rainbow flag is like other flags in that sense, it belongs to the people.” – Gilbert Baker


Any other version of Bakes’s original design is an insult not only to Gilbert Baker and his memory, but also to the LGBT community itself.

Harvey Milk Children's Picture Book Teaches Kids About Gay History

Harvey Milk Children’s Picture Book Teaches Kids About Gay History

A new children’s book, “Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag,” written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno tells the story of famed gay activist Harvey Milk and his collaboration with Gilbert Baker, the man who in 1978 designed what has become one of the most iconic symbols for the LGBT community: the rainbow pride flag.

The book starts with the story of Harvey Milk — described as “an ordinary man” with “an extraordinary dream” — and his path to becoming in 1977 one of the first openly gay people elected to public office in the U.S. The story then goes on to describe Milk’s collaboration with Baker in the creation of the rainbow pride flag, which debuted on June 25, 1978, at San Francisco’s gay pride march.

Sanders stressed that it is important to share the stories of historical figures like Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in November 1978, and Gilbert Baker, who died just last year, to a new generation to ensure the impact of such individuals isn’t lost or forgotten.

 “I think it’s important for kids to learn about history in general, and that our history as the LGBTQ community is part of that history, and this needs to be recognized,” Sanders said. “History is history, and we need to know and be informed about it.”

 It is a feeling of hope that the author of “Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag” wants children to take away from reading the book.

“There are four words repeated throughout this book: equality, pride, hope and love,” Sanders said. “That’s a message I would like for kids to grab a hold of, that those four words are what Harvey and Gilbert and the flag are about, and that’s what we as a community are still striving to have.”

 

#PRIDE – NYC’s Museum of Modern Art To Add Gilbert Baker’s Rainbow Flag To Their Permanent Collection

MoMA Rainbow flag

 

Gilbert Baker:

“On behalf of the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, I am excited to formally announce that your work, the Rainbow Flag, has been acquired into the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, following our committee meeting yesterday afternoon. I am so delighted we will be able to share your work with MoMA audiences now and in the future, and I am grateful to you for all your help during the acquisitions process. We are thrilled to represent your work in MoMA’s collection”.

For those of you who don;t know the history of our flag.

The original gay pride flag flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. It has been “suggested” that Baker was inspired by Judy Garland’s singing “Over the Rainbow” and the Stonewall riots that happened a few days after Garland’s death  The flag also strongly resembles the ribbon colors of the WWI Victory Medal, though no connection is evidenced. The original flag consisted of eight stripes; Baker assigned specific meaning to each of the colors:

 

Original rainbow flag
After the November 27, 1978, assassination of openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, demand for the rainbow flag greatly increased. To meet demand, the Paramount Flag Company began selling a version of the flag using stock rainbow fabric consisting of seven stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, and violet. As Baker ramped up production of his version of the flag, he too dropped the hot pink stripe because of the unavailability of hot-pink fabric. Also, San Francisco-based Paramount Flag Co. began selling a surplus stock of Rainbow Girls flags from its retail store on the southwest corner of Polk and Post, at which Gilbert Baker was an employee.Thirty volunteers hand-dyed and stitched the first two flags for the parade.

In 1979 the flag was modified again. When hung vertically from the lamp posts of San Francisco’s Market Street, the center stripe was obscured by the post itself. Changing the flag design to one with an even number of stripes was the easiest way to rectify this, so the turquoise stripe was dropped, which resulted in a six stripe version of the flag — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

In 1989, the rainbow flag came to nationwide attention in the United States after John Stout sued his landlords and won when they attempted to prohibit him from displaying the flag from his West Hollywood,California, apartment balcony.