In 1978, With increasing interest in the gay liberation movement, and at the request of Harvey Milk, Gilbert Baker began designing a symbol for the gay liberation movement. He wanted it to be beautiful and unique and to symbolize the unified and vigorous LGBTQ community.

The first pride flag was comprised of eight colorful stripes representing diversity: hot pink (sexuality), red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sun), green (nature), blue (art), indigo (harmony), and violet (human spirit).

With help from volunteers, Baker filled eight metal trash cans with natural dyes and organic cotton in the attic of the Gay Community Center in San Francisco and used his sewing machine to stitch together the first two flags that flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.

“A Rainbow Flag was a conscious choice, natural and necessary. The rainbow has been a symbol of hope since the earliest recorded history.”

On June 9, 2016, Gilbert presented President Barack Obama a hand-dyed cotton Rainbow Flag at the White House for a reception celebrating LGBT Pride Month.

Gilbert became more active in response to the changing political landscape after November 2016. He recognized the danger of increasing intolerance towards America’s minorities, including the LGBTQ+ community. As a result, he created a robust response:

An art exhibit of Holocaust outfits emblazoned with pink triangles. The symbol worn by persecuted homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps. These were exhibited at the Art Saves Lives Gallery in San Francisco in January 2017.