Gilbert Baker, the colorful gay activist who created the iconic and universally recognized LGBTQ rainbow pride flag, has died, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The former U.S. Army soldier who taught himself to sew, died Thursday in his sleep at his home in New York. Baker was 65, the paper said.
Cleve Jones, a longtime San Francisco gay activist and close friend of Baker, shared the news on his Twitter account.
“My dearest friend in the world is gone. Gilbert Baker gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me forty years of love and friendship,” Jones Tweeted.
Born in Kansas, Baker was stationed in San Francisco from 1970 to 1972 and remained in the City By the Bay until moving to New York in 1994.
Baker proposed the idea of a rainbow flag as a way to unite San Francisco’s LGBT community.
The flag — which has become a rallying cry for LGBTQ pride — was raised on June 25, 1978.
“He knew that he created something that touched people’s hearts and that helped us move forward. He was justifiably proud of it,” Jones told the newspaper.
“I take some comfort in knowing that he will be remembered. For generations to come, people will know that flag,” he said. “It’s an example of how one person can have an amazing and brilliant idea that reaches not just millions, but hundreds of millions of people.”