Activist Gilbert Baker, who is credited for designing the gay pride rainbow flag, has died. Baker’s friend Cleve Jones announced the news of his demise on Twitter on Friday evening. “My dearest friend in the world is gone. He gave the world the rainbow flag, he gave me forty years of love and friendship,” wrote Jones. He was 65.

There are differing reports about how he died. According to some reports, Baker died in his sleep at his home in New York on March 30. Other media outlets have not divulged details of where or how he died. A condolence meet was organised in the Castro district of San Francisco on Friday evening.

Born in 1951 in Kansas, Baker moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s when he was serving the United States Army, reported The Guardian. Soon, he began making banners for gay rights and anti-war protests.

The rainbow flag made its debut at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June 1978. It was on politician Harvey Milk’s request that Baker designed the flag. Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to a public office in California in 1977.

The first flag had eight colours that represented different facets of humanity. It was later reduced to six. While pink and indigo were removed, blue was replaced with turquoise, according to BBC.

Condolences for Baker have poured in from everywhere. “Rainbows weep. Our world is far less colourful without you, my love. Gilbert Baker gave us the rainbow flag to unite us. Unite again,” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black tweeted. California State Senator Scott Weiner said Baker’s work had defined the modern LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) movement.