SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In an event led by Mayor London Breed, Supervisors Matt Haney, Rafael Mandelman, City & State officials, the Q Foundation today honored a piece of San Francisco LGBTQ history by re-dedicating the 324 Larkin building as the “Gilbert Baker Rainbow Flag Apartments”.
Concurrent with the ceremony, the Mayor London Breed dedicated the day in the memory of Gilbert Baker, who created the LGBTQ Pride Rainbow Flag 41 years ago. This year, 2019, marks the two-year anniversary of Baker’s death and also coincides with the release of his biography, “Rainbow Warrior: My Life in Color” (Chicago Review Press, 2019).
Said Q Foundation executive director and co-founder Brian Basinger: “The Rainbow Flag is known the world over as a symbol for LGBTQ hope and liberation. When we see the flag, we feel welcomed. Gilbert Baker invented the Rainbow Flag here in the Civic Center-Tenderloin. It feels wonderful to have our symbol of freedom once again flying proudly over the Civic Center. It feels like coming home.”
Known in the LGBTQ community as ‘the gay Betsy Ross’, Baker created the Rainbow Pride Flag in San Francisco’s Civic Center. He never trademarked the flag so it could be freely reproduced and flown around the world.
The Gilbert Baker Estate and the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center at the San Francisco Public Library are hosting a book launch event and panel discussion at the Library after the Rainbow Flag Apartments ceremony, heralding Baker’s much-anticipated biography released June 4 by Chicago Review Press.
Added Basinger: “I owe Gilbert Baker my life. We are standing on his shoulders, and those of the other legends that paved the way for LGBTQ people to enjoy the openness and freedom we have today. It was his stroke of genius to create such a potent symbol that is foundational to our global progress as transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer peoples. I’m grateful to Mayor London Breed for supporting the TLGBQ+ community and today honoring someone who gave us all so much.”
Said Charley Beal of the New York-based Gilbert Baker Estate: “I am honored to help celebrate the Q Foundation and their unyielding efforts to create safe housing spaces for people suffering from HIV and AIDS. I am thrilled that one of these spaces will be named for Gilbert Baker and the Rainbow Flag he created. His flag is a global symbol for our struggle, triumphs, visibility, and liberation. I am grateful that Brian Basinger and the Q Foundation organized to name the Rainbow Flag Apartments in Gilbert’s memory.”
In 2003, then-owner Bill Jones reached out to Q Foundation to partner to use the Rainbow Flag Apartments to provide critical housing to people with AIDS. After Jones sold the building, 324 Larkin had a variety of owners in the 2000s who no longer positioned the building as a home for people with AIDS.
One prior owner took down the Pride Flag and removed the “Rainbow Flag Apts” name. Not willing to allow the history and significance of the building to fade from the public memory, Q Foundation vowed to one day restore the name and flag so that it may once again proudly fly over the Tenderloin district, providing joy for the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the annual Pride Celebration at its front door, and a sense of pride and place for TLGBQ+ residents of the “TL”, that is, the Tenderloin.
The Q Foundation recently approached the current owner, Veritas Investments, who agreed to reinstate 324 Larkin as the Gilbert Baker Rainbow Flag Apartments complete with new gold-lettering and professionally-made flags to withstand weather and time. The event unveiled the name, “Rainbow Flag Apartments” in new 5-inch-tall embossed lettering atop the front entrance and also debuted the new Pride Flag. An extra-large 15 ft. by 10 ft. version will fly during June Pride month, and a 10 ft. by 6 ft. flag will fly the rest of the year.
Said Yat-Pang Au, CEO of Veritas: “We’re thrilled and honored to re-raise the Rainbow Flag, and re-christen 324 Larkin as the Rainbow Flag Apartments, home of the iconic flag celebrating diversity and pride.”
About the Q Foundation:
Based in San Francisco, Q Foundation believes in a world where all people have a safe, decent, and affordable home. Toward that vision, we prevent homelessness for members of the LGBTQ or HIV+ communities. For more information, visit us at www.theqfoundation.org