Gilbert Baker Foundation and ReportOUT To Launch Joint ‘Flag in the Map’ Project

The Rainbow Pride Flag has become one of the most recognized symbols in the world, powered by a message of liberation and inclusivity. This iconic banner was created by Gilbert Baker, an artist who grew up in the conservative town of Parsons, Kansas in the United States of America; a town which, to this day, finds itself struggling to accept its own citizens who identify as LGBTQI+.

In order to celebrate Gilbert’s important vision and to highlight this struggle on a global scale, ReportOUT and the Gilbert Baker Foundation will be launching their first joint partnership together titled the ‘Flag in the Map’ Project. The project will aim to pin the Pride flag into world map, and providing a visual representation of the the different ways in which different communities of sexual and gender minorities use the Pride Flag to advance their struggle for liberation and inclusion across different nation states.

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding a number of key aims and objectives have been agreed which include:


· To develop an online campaign for the public to send in their photographs of how they have flown the Pride flag within different geographical locations and settings.

· To create a bank of short case studies discussing the lives and motivations behind some of the submitted photographs.

· To collate a collection of geographically, socially and culturally varied photographs and short case studies.

· To combine the photographs and case studies into a ‘coffee style’ photobook which will be both an educational tool, and ideally, an income generator for both non-profit organisations.

· To host an exhibition in Pride Month (2022) in a physical location to gather public interest in the project and to elevate the work of both ReportOUT and the Gilbert Baker Foundation.


With the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two organisations, we spoke to Aaron Casserly Stewart from the Gilbert Baker Foundation’s Board of Directors, to find out how he felt about the new partnership and also take the opportunity to find out more about the fascinating insight into the pioneering man who not only created such an important Pride flag, but also left behind a legacy as well.

Photo Caption: Aaron Casserly Stewart

Welcome Aaron! You must be very excited about this new partnership between Gilbert Baker Foundation and ReportOUT?

Yes, it is a great project that we are excited to be collaborating on. Here at the Gilbert Baker Foundation, we have been wanting to be involved with more human rights issues, so the timing of this project is perfect.

You yourself as part of the Board of Directors are also a co-creator of the Gilbert Baker Film Festival as well, so what has that been like to work on?

That came about when I was City Commissioner and Mayor in Parsons, Kansas. Gilbert and I grew up in the same town and went to the same high school, but he attended 15 years earlier than I did, so he and I never met. I didn’t even know Gilbert Baker existed or even that he created the Pride flag until I moved back to my hometown 30 years later. I came out when I was 17 years old and throughout my adult life I had no idea about Gilbert’s connection to the Pride flag, so when I came back to Parsons, a classmate of his, who is a mutual friend named Les Hamet, told me the story about Gilbert and I couldn’t believe it. As a result, I then immediately contacted Gilbert and told him I was going to be Mayor and that I wanted him to come back to Parsons because he hadn’t been there since he left high school. He was very reluctant to come back because of it being a very conservative area where when he was back in high school, he would receive a lot of ridicule, teasing, bullying and all of that and understandably he wanted nothing to do with Parsons. But I told him ‘I am here now, come back! I am openly gay and I want to honour you by giving you the key to the city’.

His classmates were even planning on having a celebration for him for when he returned so he said ‘well if I am going to come back, I really want to start something there’. Neither one of us knew at the time what we were going to do, but then Gilbert came up with the idea of having a film festival. He wanted to have something lasting that could also leave a legacy too rather than just coming back. So, we had planned it all then about a month before he was to return, he died. There were plans for him to speak at the film festival, but we went ahead and had it anyway. Unfortunately, he and I never met, but we had a lot of calls and talked a lot, which was great in its own way, but equally sad that I never had the privilege of meeting Gilbert in person.

When you think about the journey the Pride flag has taken, what m