Mourners gather in Castro to honor Gilbert Baker, creator of rainbow flag

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- From daylight to dark, and with the help of some gusty winds, the iconic rainbow flag that has come to symbolize the LGBT community flew proudly over San Francisco's Castro District where hundreds of people came together to mourn the man who created it nearly 40 years ago.

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Gilbert Baker passed away Friday at the age of 65.

During Friday's memorial many of Baker's long-time friends remembered him as a funny, often eccentric, and always creative soul. Nearly 40 years ago he sewed together a lasting symbol of global community.

A group of marchers carried a banner down Castro street that was one of Baker's last creations.

In 1978, he was commissioned by former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk to create the flag.

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Gay rights activist Cleve Jones shared a few of those memories at Friday's gathering of about 200 people. "Gilbert let me help him dye the fabric of the first flags."

When Baker talked with ABC7 News' Lyanne Melendez earlier this month, before the premiere of ABC's "When We Rise", he shared some of the same memories.

"The organic, hand-dyed, big mess -- cotton. Oh my God, you don't even want to know," he said.

Baker was part of a generation that pulled the gay community out of the closet and survived the AIDS crisis.

"We managed to create whole and complete lives from nothing," said friend Arthur Corbin. "So Gilbert was part of that and the flag became this iconic symbol that is identifyable anywhere."

The colors of the rainbow were intended to be a symbol of hope and unity. During the memorial, the famous Castro flag was lowered in Baker's honor and replaced with a new one -- a lasting icon of his legacy.

Click here for reporter Lyanne Melendez's full story on Baker and how the rainbow flag came to be.
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