Kansans recognize rainbow flag creator’s roots

Gilbert Baker was born in Chanute, graduated from Parsons High School and then immediately left the state. He agreed to return for a film festival in his honor, but died a month before the event.


State News

June 10, 2020 - 9:08 AM

Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker was born in Chanute, and went on to change the way the whole world looked. The photo above was taken in Ireland in 2011.

The iced tea is flowing, and the women of Parsons High School’s class of 1969 are on a roll.

A handful of them are circled up at a table in the increasingly crowded fellowship hall of St. John’s Episcopal Church, where yearbooks from 50 years ago are spread out at the front of the room and laughter from old stories grows louder amid the white cinder block walls and green-and-yellow linoleum-tiled floor. One of the women at the table has purple hair — not the subtle tint of elderly ladies’ salon rinses but the declarative violet in vogue among queer kids.

All of these women have clear recollections of a classmate who got the hell out of Kansas as soon as he could and went on to change the world.

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