The Gay Betsy Ross

Gilbert Baker’s sewing skills propelled his life down a different path.   

Gilbert Baker doesn’t have the name recognition of Betsy Ross. But he should. He came up with a new symbol for the gay and lesbian rights movement. Pre-Baker, it was a pink triangle, a symbol that originated with the Nazis, he explains.

“We wanted to change our symbol from that of oppression to that of power,” says Baker in a video interview. The original flag, which had eight colors, was raised in 1978 at the Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco. One onlooker remembers the moment: “The wind took it, and it billowed open. It was so astonishing.” Meant to be.


Vintage Pride photos by Marie Ueda via California Digital Library