SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Gilbert Baker, the man who designed the iconic rainbow flag, has died at age 65.
Fellow activist Cleve Jones said Friday, "My dearest friend in the world is gone. Gilbert Baker gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me forty years of love and friendship."
There is a vigil planned Friday night for Baker starting at 7 p.m. at Castro and Market. This has been a surprise to so many people.
Baker died in his sleep in his New York apartment, according to a friend.
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What a life Baker had. He described the flag as a symbol of hope. Gay activist Harvey Milk pushed him to create something positive for the gay community.
Baker said he chose the rainbow because it is the one thing that everybody loves to see up in the sky, so he spent days and days sewing the flag.
It finally went up in June of 1978. Cleve Jones was with him, so was Supervisor Jeff Sheehey.
His flag is seen all over the world not only as a symbol of hope, but as a symbol of tolerance.
"You know I told him when he came up with it that he should patent it and he said no it was his gift to the world and lived most of his life in poverty as a result. But I think it's quite a remarkable thing to think of the impact that one person can have with just one idea," Jones said.
"There were all sorts of rainbow symbols for the community and for many of us that's part of our coming into the community and Gilbert created that," State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) said.
The gay community here and in New York is asking that all rainbow flags be lowered.
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Jones said Baker would not have liked that, that he always wanted that flag to fly high and proud.
ABC7 News Reporter Lyanne Melendez had the opportunity to talk to Baker several times and she says she knows he would be tickled pink knowing that he's getting all the attention.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee offered this statement on Baker: "At a time of great uncertainty in the LGBT community, Gilbert's act of sewing together multicolored materials unified and empowered individuals across the country, helping to bring them together under a common cause."
Click here for reporter Lyanne Melendez's full story on Baker and how the rainbow flag came to be.