Google likes to change up their logo on their main page of the search engine every few days to honor a holiday, or event, or special person. It’s the “Google Doodle” and it’s a sweet marketing ploy that perks up our day. Probably much to the chagrin of those on the conservative side of the spectrum, Google and its Doodle tend to be liberal/forward thinking and frequently honor notable human achievements both big and small that improve the world for everyone “under the rainbow”.
Today’s (June 2nd) Doodle honors the 66th birthday of GILBERT BAKER, the creator of the LGBT Rainbow Flag, a universal symbol for all people in the queer community. Google posts little stories about the creation of their special doodles, and today they explain why they honor Mr. Baker and how they actually created the graphic. It’s an interesting read for anyone interested in LGBTQ history but also for design nerds who enjoy hearing about the creation process for graphic images.
Today’s doodle is a little more colorful thanks to Gilbert Baker, creator of the rainbow flag, a symbol of pride and freedom for the LGBTQA+ community.
Teaching himself to sew, Baker put his skills to work for the San Francisco gay community, making banners for marches and protests. In 1978 Baker used those skills to create a new symbol for the LGBT Community to replace the pink triangle, a symbol of oppression and devastation from the Nazi’s classification of LGBT people in World War II. Baker’s Rainbow was a more positive and celebratory symbol.
“We needed something beautiful, something from us,” Baker explained. “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!”
Making the flag was no small task. Baker gathered thirty people in the attic of the Gay Community Center in San Francisco to hand-dye and sew together over 1000 yards of cotton. The modern day rainbow flag features six colors, but the original used eight, each representing a different aspect of the community. The iconic symbol stuck and soon Baker was flooded with requests for more flags.
Baker’s sister, Ardonna Cook, also reflects on his life and legacy by sharing, “Our family is so proud of the legacy of activism and artistry that Gilbert has left to the world. He touched millions across the globe and empowered them to become stronger and more visible LGBT people. Gilbert led a bold and inspiring life by bringing The Rainbow Flag to life and it is that legacy which should guide us in respecting and celebrating diversity.”
LGBT Doodler Nate Swinehart wanted to capture that same community spirit Baker treasured. He collaborated with other team members, including other LGBT Doodlers who felt personally connected to the project, to nail down the right concept.
Together, the team decided the tribute would consist of a stop-motion animation of actual fabric strips coming together to create the flag. They made a trip to local San Franciscan fabric shops and filmed the doodle in a tiny kitchen only a few blocks from the same spot where Baker and his friends constructed that first flag in 1978.
Today we celebrate Gilbert Baker’s pride, creativity, and the lasting impact he’s had on strengthening and uniting people all over the world.
Happy Birfday, Gilbert Baker!