Gilbert Baker - creator of iconic rainbow flag - dies aged 65

Baker's creation has been described as a "unifying symbol" of the LGBT community

Gilbert Baker - creator of iconic rainbow flag - dies aged 65

Picture by: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Archive/PA Images

The man who created the rainbow flag - used to represent LGBT rights - has died aged 65.

Tributes have been paid to Gilbert Baker, who was an artist and gay rights activist.

Born in Kansas, Baker originally designed the iconic flag ahead of the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day parade in 1978.

It originally featured eight coloured stripes, although fabric and material limitations soon saw the design altered to six colours - which remains the most common version today.

Describing the experience of unveiling the flag, Baker recalled "raising it up and seeing it there blowing in the wind for everyone to see".

He said: "It completely astounded me that people just got it, in an instant like a bolt of lightening – that this was their flag. It belonged to all of us.

"It was the most thrilling moment of my life. Because I knew right then that this was the most important thing I would ever do – that my whole life was going to be about the Rainbow Flag.”

A vigil is planned in San Francisco for people to pay their respects to Gilbert.

Tributes have been flowing in across social media: