It is with the deepest sorrow that the Gilbert Baker Foundation acknowledges the passing of Tom Taylor on October 20.

Tom was one of Gilbert Baker‘s oldest friends in San Francisco. Tom was known in the halls of  government and throughout the city as the “keeper of the Rainbow Flag“ located at Harvey Milk Plaza. Tom was also an extremely accomplished vexillographer in his own right, creating and designing flags for numerous occasions over his four-decade career in the flag community.

Tom Taylor and his husband, physician and activist Jerome Goldstein, were both instrumental in the creation of the Gilbert Baker Foundation in 2017, following the death of their dear friend.

Tom Taylor and Gilbert Baker first met in 1981. Tom hired Gilbert to help him design and make scenery for some of San Francisco’s most famous strip clubs. Their creative collaboration and friendship continued over three decades.
They worked together on numerous pieces of art and happenings, including Gilbert’s infamous “Pink Jesus“ protest at the 1990 San Francisco Freedom Day Parade. Tom was also an integral participant in the planning and execution of the world-famous Mile-Long Rainbow Flag. Gilbert created this record-breaking art piece for the Stonewall 25 celebration in New York City in 1994. As recounted by Baker in his memoir Rainbow Warrior: My Life in Color, it was in Tom Taylor‘s Isis Street workshop where Gilbert created some of his most fabulous fabric creations. This included the 1998 reproductions of the original Rainbow Flag that was first raised at United Nations Plaza. 

Tom Taylor was born in the San Francisco area. Through grit and hard work, he emerged as a leading member of San Francisco’s LGBTQ community. He would famously decorate the Bloomingdale’s Store in Westfield Plaza with a massive Rainbow Flag display during every Pride month. He also provided the giant Rainbow Flag used in the acclaimed Gus Van Sant film “Milk.”

Along with Jerome —  “Tom and Jerry“ as they were known throughout the Bay Area — Tom created an annual Christmas display at their 21st Street house. It would become a popular San Francisco tradition.

In 2013, Gilbert Baker became a universal life minister in order to preside over Tom and Jerry’s wedding. The nuptials, held at their home, drew   over 400 guests, including San Francisco’s high society from several different communities.

Tom became a familiar figure in the Castro, solemnly raising and lowering the Rainbow Flag in Harvey Milk Plaza. He made sure that it was always flown according to the protocols that Gilbert Baker originally established. Tom was also the driving force behind the recent creation of Eagle Plaza on 12th street in San Francisco’s Mission District. There, a 100-foot flag pole waves a banner to celebrate the worldwide leather community.

We will all miss this man of astounding creativity, vision and generosity.

Charley BealPresident of the Gilbert Baker Foundation

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