Baker served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1972. He was stationed in San Francisco at the beginning of the gay rights movement. After his honorable discharge from the military, he taught himself to sew. He used his skill to create banners for gay-rights and anti-war protest marches. It was during this time that he met and became friends with Harvey Milk.
In 1979 he began work at Paramount Flag Company in San Francisco, then located on the southwest corner of Polk Street and Post Street in the Polk Gulch neighborhood. Baker has designed displays for Dianne Feinstein, the Premier of China, the presidents of France, Venezuela and the Philippines, the King of Spain, and many others. He also designed creations for numerous civic events and San Francisco Gay Pride. In 1984 he designed flags for the Democratic National Convention.
In 1994 Baker moved to New York City and continued his creative work and activism. That year he created the world's largest flag (at that time) in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that took place in 1969.
In 2003, to commemorate the Rainbow Flag’s 25th anniversary, Baker created a Rainbow Flag that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean in Key West. After the commemoration, he sent sections of this flag to more than 100 cities around the world.
The colors on the Rainbow Flag reflect the diversity of the LGBT community. When Gilbert Baker raised the first Rainbow Flag at San Francisco Pride on June 25, 1978, it had eight colors, each with a symbolic meaning:
Hot Pink: sexuality
Art by Ed Freeman
Thirty volunteers had helped Baker hand-dye and stitch the first two flags for the parade.
The design has undergone several revisions to first remove then re-add colours due to widely available fabrics. As of 2008, the most common variant consists of six stripes, with the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Baker refers to this version of the flag as the "commercial version", because it came about due to practical considerations of mass production.
The Rainbow Flag is commonly flown horizontally, with the red stripe on top, as it would be in a natural rainbow.
In 2003, Baker and his Key West project were the subject of Rainbow Pride, a feature-length documentary by Marie Jo Ferron, bought by PBS National and debuting in New York on WNET.
Baker recreated his original Rainbow Flag for the Academy-award winning 2008 film Milk, and is shown being interviewed on one of the featurettes of the DVD release.
Gender and Sexuality For Beginners by Jaimee Garbacik and Jeffrey Lewis
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: For Beginners (June 11, 2013)
Amazon: Gender and Sexuality For Beginners
Amazon Kindle: Gender and Sexuality For Beginners
We should not need to prove our experiences, defend our realities, or negotiate basic human rights. But we do.
What does sexual orientation mean if the very categories of gender are in question? How do we measure equality when our society's definitions of "male" and "female" leave out much of the population? There is no consensus on what a "real" man or woman is, where one's sex begins and ends, or what purpose the categories of masculine and feminine traits serve. While significant strides have been made in recent years on behalf of women's, gay and lesbian rights, there is still a large division between the law and day-to-day reality for LGBTQIA and female-identified individuals in American society. The practices, media outlets and institutions that privilege heterosexuality and traditional gender roles as "natural" need a closer examination.
Gender and Sexuality For Beginners considers the uses and limitations of biology in defining gender. Questioning gender and sex as both categories and forms of compulsory identification, it critically examines the issues in the historical and contemporary construction, meaning and perpetuation of gender roles. Gender and Sexuality For Beginners interweaves neurobiology, psychology, feminist, queer and trans theory, as well as historical gay and lesbian activism to offer new perspectives on gender inequality, ultimately pointing to the clear inadequacy of gender categories and the ways in which the sex-gender system oppresses us all.
Gender and Sexuality For Beginners examines the evolution of gender roles and definitions of sexual orientation in American society, illuminating how neither is as objective or "natural" as we are often led to believe.
More Artists at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art
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