Baker’s posthumous autobiography takes the reader from his repressive childhood in 1950s Kansas to a harrowing stint in the US Army, and finally his arrival in San Francisco, where he bloomed as both a visual artist and social justice activist. His story weaves through the early years of the struggle for LGBTQ rights when he worked closely with Harvey Milk to create a unifying symbol for the growing gay rights movement, and his eventual creation of the Rainbow Flag.
Gilbert Baker, though a creative man, was not a big thinker. Very little of his book is consumed with broad theories or calls for social transformation. Instead, Baker’s prose is very much like his work on his industrial sewing machine: carefully crafted and focused on the task at hand. Rainbow Warrior is an engaging read. It is funny, poignant, painful, and triumphant. It is never less than entertaining.
Rainbow Warrior was compiled from several manuscripts that the late author Gilbert Baker left after his death in 2017, a fact that would have been helpful to have, early on. You’ll be more forgiving of the overly florid prose knowing that ... Aside from that annoyance — one appearing throughout the book — readers may also notice a bit of pretentiousness, lot of snarky fighting, endless drugs and getting naked in Baker’s narrative, which is likewise forgivable because much of it takes place post-Stonewall, post-Summer-of-Love, pre-AIDS...And thus is the appeal here ... Baker was one of the more ferociously involved protesters, by his own account, and his anecdotes are priceless. He gives readers a good first-person look at early efforts for gay rights, and eye-opening, sometimes jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes peeks at life as a young gay man during an uprising. It’s a lively, outrageous look at outrage, in an account that seems not to have held one thing back. That makes Rainbow Warrior readable and entertaining and, despite its overly ornate verbosity, a good look at revolution cut from a different cloth.
Baker writes briskly and amiably about making fast friends and becoming an activist promoting 'lavender tolerance and social acceptance' ... the author vividly illustrates the deadly struggle to survive both the wrath of a mysterious killer and the political unrest that continued to plague gay America ... A moving, educative memoir from one of the innovators of the gay liberation movement.