Google is ringing in the start of LGBTQ pride month with a rainbow tribute to Gilbert Baker in today’s Doodle. Baker, who passed away this past March, is credited with creating the iconic rainbow flag in 1978.
After growing up in Kansas, Baker taught himself how to sew while living in San Francisco in the 1970s. According to a bio on his artist website, he created banners for gay and anti-war protest marches and was friends with gay rights advocate Harvey Milk, who debuted the first rainbow flag during the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. Construction of the first flag required 30 people, who dyed and sewed over 1000 yards of cotton by hand. (Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to office in California, was killed later that same year.)
According to today’s Google Doodle blog post, the rainbow flag replaced the pink triangle as the primary representation of the LGBTQ community. The pink triangle had been long associated with oppression — it was the symbol that was used by the Nazis as a concentration camp badge identifying LGBTQ prisoners.
Why did Baker choose a rainbow? According to the blog, the artist reasoned that “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!”
Although today’s flag features only six colors, the original had eight, all of which are represented in the Doodle, which shows the creation of the flag. Unlike other Doodles, today’s transcends the main search page. Click on the Google logo and you’ll see a rainbow down the left-hand side of the search results.
It's a colorful tribute to a man who changed the face of LGBTQ pride as we know it.