by Brian Burns and Judd Proctor
“The Rainbow Flag at Half-Mast”
Artist and gay rights activist Gilbert Baker, creator of the Rainbow Flag, died in his sleep at his home in New York City on March 31, 2017. He was sixty-five.
In 1978, while living in San Francisco, Baker created his first Rainbow Flag for the city’s pride event. It had eight colors, each with a symbolic meaning. Hot pink was for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit.
In 1994, Baker moved to New York City where he created the world’s largest flag to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. At the time, it was deemed the world’s largest flag.
Today, the flag is modeled after Baker’s 1979, six-color version, and is internationally recognized as the Gay Pride Flag.
“Harvey Milk Day”
In 1977, Harvey Milk became one of the first openly-gay elected officials in the U.S., but was assassinated a year later. A dynamic and outspoken advocate for the gay community, he’s revered as a gay martyr.
Milk was commemorated on May 22, 2008, as a bronze bust of the hero was unveiled during a ceremony at the San Francisco City Hall building. Just days earlier, the California Assembly had designated May 22nd as Harvey Milk Day, as it was his birthday.
It was fitting that the bust of Harvey Milk was first displayed in San Francisco City Hall’s Ceremonial Rotunda – the most coveted space in the building for same-sex wedding ceremonies.
“What a Doll”
Said to be the world’s first gay doll, Gay Bob joined the world of straight toys in 1977. Inventor Harvey Rosenberg of New York made 10,000 of the dolls and sold them through mail-order ads.
Gay Bob stood twelve inches tall, was anatomically-correct, and had frocked blond hair and gorgeous blue eyes. He also wore a neck chain, an earring, and an over-the-shoulder satchel bag. While a few dolls of the time were closeted, Gay Bob came with a closet box so he could step out of the closet with pride.
Today, Gay Bob is a collector’s item, worth as much as $100 in mint condition.
Gay Bob was eventually joined on the toy shelf by Boy George, as well as Gay Billy – the U.K.’s first openly-gay doll.