03/04/2017 16:00 SAST | Updated 03/04/2017 16:08 SAST

Rainbow Flag Creator Gilbert Baker Dead At 65

Spencer Platt via Getty Images
“The rainbow came to mind almost instantly as an obvious expression of diversity and acceptance,” Baker said of the iconic rainbow flag. 

Gilbert Baker, the artist and LGBTQ rights activist who created the rainbow flag, has died at age 65.

The Bay Area Reporter confirmed the news Friday on Facebook. The newspaper's post offered few details, but noted that Baker had died in New York.

Author and activist Cleve Jones, whose book, When We Rise, inspired the recent ABC miniseries of the same name, also shared the news on his Facebook page.

Baker, who was born in Kansas, designed the first rainbow flag in 1978 after he was approached by San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk to create a symbol for the LGBTQ community. Just months before his assassination, Milk rode in the city's June pride parade under Baker's original flag, which featured eight coloured stripes: hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo and violet. The original design changed to the iconic, six-barred rainbow flag in 1979.

"The rainbow came to mind almost instantly as an obvious expression of diversity and acceptance," Baker told CBS Chicago in 2012. "It's beautiful, all of the colours, even the colours you can't see. That really fit us as a people because we are all of the colours. Our sexuality is all of the colours. We are all the genders, races and ages."

In a second Facebook post, Jones noted that a memorial would be held Friday in San Francisco's Castro neighbourhood.

Like what you see? Don't miss the Queer Voices newsletter.