The late Gilbert Baker, creator of the iconic rainbow flag recognized as a symbol of LGBTQA+ pride around the world, would have been 66 years old today, June 2, 2017.
To honor the American artist’s legacy, Google shared a colorful, animated doodle on its homepage.
“Today we celebrate Gilbert Baker’s pride, creativity, and the lasting impact he’s had on strengthening and uniting people all over the world,” Google wrote.
The honor comes as Pride Month, which is celebrated in cities across the country every June, begins.
Here are five things to know about the late legend:
He was born in Chanute, Kansas.
Baker was born on June 2, 1951, in the small rural city of Chanute, Kansas — about two hours south of Topeka, Kansas.
According to the New York Times, Baker’s mother was a teacher, and his father was both a lawyer and judge.
He served in the U.S. Army.
After one year in college, Baker made his way to San Francisco to service as an Army medic and nurse.
According to Time.com, Baker eventually left the military in 1972, bought a sewing machine, taught himself to sew and helped make protest banners for San Francisco’s gay community.
He created his first rainbow flag in 1978 — after Harvey Milk challenged him.
In 1978, Harvey Milk (one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials) challenged Baker to create a new symbol for LGBT activists.
Until the rainbow flag, the pink triangle — the harrowing icon used during World War II to identify gay prisoners being held in Nazi concentration camps — was widely used to symbolize the movement.
But Baker wanted to create something more positive and prideful, so he gathered a team of 30 volunteers in San Francisco’s Gay Community Center to hand-dye and sew more than 1,000 yards of cotton, according to Google.
The original flag included eight different colors; the modern day one includes six.
He didn’t talk to his parents for 10 years after coming out as gay.
In a 2015 interview with Refinery29, Baker said when he came out as gay at age 19, it was the hardest thing he’d done.
“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 said.
He died in his sleep March 31 in his New York home.
Baker died in his sleep on March 31, 2017 at age 65 in New York City. A spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office said the cause was heart disease.
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