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The legendary LGBT activist who created the gay pride rainbow flag has died at the age of 65.

American artist Gilbert Baker passed away in his sleep at his home in New York on Thursday night, friend and fellow activist Cleve Jones revealed yesterday (March 31).

Baker shaped the look of LGBT unity, pride and defiance for decades to come after designing an eight-colour rainbow flag in 1978 for San Francisco’s ‘gay freedom day’, a precursor to what we know know as Pride.

The former US solider was heavily involved in the early US gay rights movement. A candlelight vigil is planned for Friday evening in San Francisco at 7pm local time to honour his memory.

Gilbert Baker’s original 1978 design included eight colours, each with a corresponding meaning.

 

“I am heartbroken. My dearest friend in the world is gone. Gilbert gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me 40 years of love and friendship,” Cleve Jones posted on Facebook.

“I can’t stop crying. I love you forever Gilbert Baker.”

Hollywood screenwriter Dustin Lance Black said that he was a “mess” after hearing the news.

“Rainbows weep. Our world is far less colourful without you, my love,” the creator of US LGBT docudrama When We Rise tweeted.

“Gilbert Baker gave us the rainbow flag to unite us. Unite again.”

Baker’s original rainbow flag consisted of eight colours, each representing a different aspect of humanity. Pink, sexuality; red, life; orange, healing; yellow, sunlight; green, nature; turquoise, art; indigo, harmony; violet, human spirit.

The design, which proudly flies on at LGBT venues and Pride events around the world, was later reduced to six colours, with pink and indigo removed and turquoise put in place of blue.

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