The first step of that dream was looking fabulous. Baker was starting perform as a drag queen, and admittedly broke, the easiest way to find great costumes was to make them himself, so he learned to sew. “I ran with a pretty amazing crowd then.We’d be hanging out looking at Vogue magazine, and thinking like, ‘Ah, wouldn’t it be great to look like this?’” (Years later, his drag persona would take the name Busty Ross, a nod to another famous flag-making seamstress.)
He’d been an activist for years, but after that 1978 rally, his contribution to the cause crystallized. He was going to make the flag a symbol. Baker got a job at the now-defunct Paramount Flag Company in San Francisco, where he’d work for the better part of a decade. There, the flag lost two of its original eight colors (turquoise and pink, it turns out, aren’t common flag colors, and made it too difficult to manufacture) — and gained official recognition as the official flag for gay pride, as the result of Baker’s work.
His flag has always been recognized for its artistic significance, perhaps culminating this month, when it was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. "One of MoMA's goals is to acquire the art of our time," Paola Antonelli, senior curator of Architecture and Design, told us. “For the past almost 40 years, the rainbow flag has stood as a politically powerful, meaningful, and also aesthetically effective symbol."