Friday’s Google Doodle is honoring Gilbert Baker’s 66th birthday.
Baker died earlier this year, on March 31, so Google is right on time with his honoring. This month we celebrate LGBTQ pride and the life and work of Gilbert Baker.
The pink triangle, which was previously used to celebrate Pride, was a symbol that the Nazis used to mark people who were sent to concentration camps for their homosexuality. The rainbow flag was meant to replace the pink triangle because of its horrifying origins. Some organizations attempted to re-appropriate the pink triangle. Act Up (which was founded during the early HIV/AIDS crisis), attempted to reclaim it from its terrible origins.
But not everyone was thrilled about the pink triangle. “It came from the Nazis. It was put on us,” Baker told In the Life Media in 2009. “It had a really horrible, negative origin about murder and [the] Holocaust.”
Baker taught himself to sew (partly so he could dress like David Bowie), and came up with the Rainbow Flag in 1978 which represents all colors of diversity. The original Rainbow Flag had eight colors, each with an individual meaning: red for life, pink for sex, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for serenity, and purple for the spirit. “This was the hippie, 1978 meanings for the thing,” Baker said.
In Sunshine and Rainbows: Development of Gay and Lesbian Culture in Queensland, Clive Moore wrote: “Bright colors have always been forms of gay identification, particularly green, pink, yellow, lavender and purple.” Baker incorporated this history to create a new symbol in the Rainbow Flag.
The flag was eventually cut down to six colors. First, pink got cut because the dye for it was difficult to obtain at the time. Then the 1979 Gay Freedom Day Parade committee cut turquoise to give the flag an even number of colors, so it could be flown as two halves.
Baker remained deeply proud of his work through his final years.
“Together, we’re changing our world, our planet, from a place of hate and violence and war to a place of love and diversity and acceptance,” he said in 2009. “That is why we’re here. That’s the big, long rainbow — from before me to well after me.”
Happy pride y’all!!