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In 1978, Harvey Milk asked Gilbert Baker to create a unifying symbol for the growing gay rights movement, and on June 25 of that year, Baker’s Rainbow Flag debuted at San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade. Baker had no idea his creation would become an international emblem of liberation, forever cementing his pivotal role in helping to define the modern LGBTQ movement. Rainbow Warrior is Baker’s passionate personal chronicle, from a repressive childhood in 1950s Kansas to a harrowing stint in the US Army, and finally his arrival in San Francisco, where he bloomed as both a visual artist and social justice activist. His fascinating story weaves through the early years of the struggle for LGBTQ rights, when he worked closely with Milk, Cleve Jones, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Baker continued his flag-making, street theater and activism through the Reagan years and the AIDS crisis. And in 1994, Baker spearheaded the effort to fabricate a mile-long Rainbow Flag—at the time, the world’s longest—to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City. Gilbert and parade organizers battled with Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the right to carry it up Fifth Avenue, past St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Today, the Rainbow Flag has become a worldwide symbol of LGBTQ diversity and inclusiveness, and its colorful hues have illuminated landmarks from the White House to the Eiffel Tower to the Sydney Opera House. Gilbert Baker often called himself the “Gay Betsy Ross,” and readers of his colorful, irreverent, and deeply personal memoir will find it difficult to disagree.
About the Author
Artist Gilbert Baker created the first Rainbow Flag in 1978 and was a longtime LGBTQ, peace and AIDS activist. He died in 2017.
“These pages hold Gilbert’s joy—his visions, untamed spirit, flashes of unbridled bitchiness, and all of the unvarnished truths of who he and his collaborators were and are. These pages share his moments of towering confidence, his vast periods of great doubt, his tireless search for accomplices to help realize his impossible dreams, and those few moments of success that made all the suffering worthwhile. This book tells the story of an artist and an activist’s unyielding, lifelong dedication to a singular creative notion, and his courage to let that creation go, to let it be shared, to let it bend and find new forms in order for it to remain timeless, boundless, and ever inclusive of our growing LGBTQ family.” —Dustin Lance Black, from the foreword
“With infectious charisma and unadulterated exhilaration, Gilbert Baker intertwines the history of the Rainbow Flag and of the LGBTQ movement with the narration of his own sinuous life. If a sense of urgency and necessity, serendipity, intuition, and talent are the ingredients of great design, this is the autobiography of an accidental design superstar.” —Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Architecture & Design, the Museum of Modern Art
“Gilbert Baker paved the way for LGBTQ activists around the world—myself included. As the openly gay and HIV-positive Speaker of the New York City Council, I owe my career and life to people like Gilbert Baker. I am grateful the world will finally get to read his story.” —Corey Johnson, Speaker of the New York City Council
“Gilbert Baker’s grand visions as an artist and activist entertained all who knew him and truly advanced the global LGBTQ movement. In creating the Rainbow Flag, he gave the world an iconic symbol. This powerful memoir is his final gift. He was my friend and ally in the struggle for equality and I loved him very much.” —Cleve Jones, activist, author of When We Rise: My Life in the Movement, and creator of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt
“a moving, educative memoir from one of the innovators of the gay liberation movement.” --Kirkus Reviews