QUEER VOICES
10/16/2012 10:05 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

LGBT History Month Icon Of The Day: Gilbert Baker

Thanks to Gilbert Baker, LGBT people have the rainbow flag as their symbol of pride.

"The rainbow is a part of nature and you have to be in the right place to see it,” Baker said in a June interview with CBS Chicago. “It’s beautiful, all of the colors, even the colors you can’t see. That really fit us as a people because we are all of the colors. Our sexuality is all of the colors. We are all the genders, races and ages."

The flag's six colors represent: life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), art (blue) and the human spirit (purple).

The Kansas-born Baker moved to San Francisco after being discharged from the Army and serving in the Vietnam War. He taught himself how to sew and began making banners for various gay events. While there, Baker met Harvey Milk, the first openly gay U.S. elected official and was commissioned by the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade in 1978 to design a flag that could be used year after year.

The original flag had eight stripes (it also included a hot pink stripe symbolizing sex and a indigo stripe for harmony) and a seven-stripe version also existed before the final six-stripe flag we know today was created. Now, the rainbow flag can be seen all over the world at LGBT pride parades, venues and homes.

Baker moved to New York City and is working on a book about his life and the creation of the symbolic rainbow flag.

Each day in October, which is LGBT History Month, we'll be featuring a different LGBT icon. Check back tomorrow for a look at another incredible individual who changed history and visit our LGBT History Month Big News Page for more stories.

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