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How One Army Vet Designed The Iconic Symbol Of The Gay Rights Movement
Every year in June, cities around the world honor the gay community with events celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. While today, the symbol of the gay community — the rainbow flag — is universally recognizable, it would not have existed without one Army veteran, Gilbert Baker, who found himself stationed in San Francisco at the beginning of the gay rights movement in 1970.
Baker, a Kansas-native who was drafted to serve as a surgical nurse, was honorably discharged from the Army in 1972 and decided to stay in San Francisco. In a documentary called “The Gay Betsy Ross,” Baker says he bought his first sewing machine and taught himself how to sew so he could make his own clothes, in the style of his fashion icon, David Bowie.
In 1974, Baker met gay civil rights activist and politician, Harvey Milk, and the two developed a close friendship, according to a San Francisco Travel article. Milk challenged Baker to come up with a symbol that would represent the gay pride community instead of the pink triangle, which was once a symbol used by Nazis to identify and persecute homosexuals.
Thanks to his sewing skills, Baker was able to stitch together eight pieces of fabric that he dyed himself with help from volunteers. Each color represented the values held by the gay community: pink stood for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for the human spirit.
Nine years after the the Stonewall riots in New York City that launched the gay rights movement, and eight years after the first gay pride march, the LGBT community finally had its colors. The rainbow flag flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.
In the article for San Francisco Travel, Baker says watching the flag fly for the first time was the most thrilling moment of his life.
“Because I knew right then that this was the most important thing I would ever do,” he said, “that my whole life was going to be about the Rainbow Flag.”
Gilbert went on to design flags for other organizations and public figures including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, the 1985 Super Bowl, and the decorations for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day parades from 1979 through 1993, according to San Francisco Travel. In 1994, he moved to New York City and created the world’s longest flag on the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Nearly a mile long and carried by 5,000 people, the flag broke the Guinness world record for largest flag.
In a recent interview published this month in Inside Out, the Museum of Modern Art’s blog, Baker said he was inspired to create a flag because flags are unique from other art forms.
“It’s not a painting, it’s not just cloth” Baker said. “It functions in so many different ways. I thought that we needed that kind of symbol, that we needed as a people something that everyone instantly understands.”
An Air Force civilian has died at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar in a "non-combat related incident," U.S. Air Forces Central Command announced on Friday.
Jason P. Zaki, 32, died on Wednesday while deployed to the 609th Air Operations Center from the Pentagon, an AFCENT news release says.
At a time when taxpayer and foreign-government spending at Trump Organization properties is fueling political battles, a U.S. Marine Corps reserve unit stationed in South Florida hopes to hold an annual ball at a venue that could profit the commander in chief.
The unit is planning a gala to celebrate the 244th anniversary of the Marines' founding at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach on Nov. 16, according to a posting on the events website Evensi.
QUANTICO, Virginia -- They may not be deadly, but some of the nonlethal weapons the Marine Corps is working on look pretty devastating.
The Marine Corps Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate is currently testing an 81mm mortar round that delivers a shower of flashbang grenades to disperse troublemakers. There is also an electric vehicle-stopper that delivers an electrical pulse to shut down a vehicle's powertrain, designed for use at access control points.
"When you hear nonlethal, you are thinking rubber bullets and batons and tear gas; it's way more than that," Marine Col. Wendell Leimbach Jr., director of the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate, told an audience at the Modern Day Marine 2019 expo.
RACHEL, Nev. (Reuters) - UFO enthusiasts began descending on rural Nevada on Thursday near the secret U.S. military installation known as Area 51, long rumored to house government secrets about alien life, with local authorities hoping the visitors were coming in peace.
Some residents of Rachel, a remote desert town of 50 people a short distance from the military base, worried their community might be overwhelmed by unruly crowds turning out in response to a recent, viral social-media invitation to "storm" Area 51. The town, about 150 miles (240 km) north of Las Vegas, lacks a grocery store or even a gasoline station.
Dozens of visitors began arriving outside Rachel's only business - an extraterrestrial-themed motel and restaurant called the Little A'Le'Inn - parking themselves in cars, tents and campers. A fire truck was stationed nearby.
Alien enthusiasts descend on the Nevada desert to 'storm' Area 51
Attendees arrive at the Little A'Le'Inn as an influx of tourists responding to a call to 'storm' Area 51, a secretive U.S. military base believed by UFO enthusiasts to hold government secrets about extra-terrestrials, is expected Rachel, Nevada, U.S. September 19, 2019
One couple, Nicholas Bohen and Cayla McVey, both sporting UFO tattoos, traveled to Rachel from the Los Angeles suburb of Fullerton with enough food to last for a week of car-camping.
"It's evolved into a peaceful gathering, a sharing of life stories," McVey told Reuters, sizing up the crowd. "I think you are going to get a group of people that are prepared, respectful and they know what they getting themselves into."