Wikimedia Commons

Today, Google honors Gilbert Baker, the creator of the rainbow flag, on what would have been his 66th birthday. The artist, activist and self-proclaimed “gay Betsy Ross” designed the original rainbow flag in 1978, which became an international symbol of the LGBT community.

According to Google, the stop-motion animated Doodle celebrates Baker’s “pride, creativity, and the lasting impact he’s had on strengthening and uniting people all over the world.” Baker was challenged by gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk to create a positive alternative to the pink triangle, which was “once imposed by Nazis to identify and persecute homosexuals” and later reclaimed as a symbol of remembrance, according to San Francisco Travel.

The original flag featured eight colorful stripes, each with its own special meaning:

  • Pink for sexuality
  • Red for life
  • Orange for healing
  • Yellow for sunlight
  • Green for nature
  • Turquoise for magic
  • Blue for serenity
  • Violet for spirit

The flag now has six stripes, but still holds its message of unity and pride. In describing the celebratory symbol, Baker said, “We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things. Plus, it’s a natural flag—it’s from the sky!”

Baker died in March at the age of 65.

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Photo credit: Benson Kua, Wikimedia Commons


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