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Pride 2017 Changemakers

by Cynthia Laird

Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker marched down Market Street during the June 28, 2015 San Francisco LGBT Pride parade. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker marched down Market Street during the June 28, 2015 San Francisco LGBT Pride parade. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker, who died earlier this year, was a changemaker.

A gay man, Baker came to San Francisco in the early 1970s, just as the gay liberation movement was getting underway in the city.

Teddy Witherington, the former executive director of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee, told the Bay Area Reporter that Baker's involvement with the parade usually involved the rainbow flag. In 1998, Baker helped the Pride Committee find a donor to replace a number of the flags that line Market Street. In 2003, for the 25th anniversary of the flag's creation, Baker and the Pride Committee worked closely to "both ease funding for, and the deployment of, the flags on the parade route and other locations, including the enormous one that was raised early in the morning at United Nations Plaza to coincide with the anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Charter," Witherington wrote in an email.

Today, of course, the rainbow flag is a universal symbol of LGBT Pride.

We celebrate Mr. Baker's life and know he's watching us.

This special Pride section features other changemakers in our community. These LGBT people work in various professions and live their lives out and proud. (Online, look for the stories labeled Pride 2017.)

With President Donald Trump and his administration in charge, it's vital that change continue. We won't be forced back into the closet, no matter what Betsy DeVos, Trump's anti-gay education secretary, tries to do. We insist on equal access to restrooms for trans students, access to affordable health care for all, and a place at the table. Trump isn't providing leadership for our community, but plenty of LGBT and allied elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels are. And that's where the resistance must focus its energy. Making change is not easy, but settling for the new status quo of being invisible is not acceptable.

Rise up and resist.

 

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