‘Gay Sweater’ unveiled at Toronto Fashion Week

Mar 24, 2015 | Arts, Life


Jeremy Dias with ‘The Gay Sweater’ (Shai Williamson)

By Shai Williamson

A sweater woven from the hair of over 100 people from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community has made its debut at Toronto fashion week.

The sweater, made by knitters in Toronto, can be described as the “first and only LGBTQ object in the world,” because of what it was made of said Jeremy Dias, director of the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity.

  ‘It happened very organically. We actually have too much hair’ – Jeremy Dias

Dias and his group are making a point that the word ‘gay’ is used far too commonly in a negative way.

“In a world where there are campaigns out there that say ‘It gets better’ I think we want to remind people that’s not always true,” he told Humber News on Tuesday.

“We want to remind everyone in the world that it does not get better, you make it better.”

Among those reacting to the sweater was comedian Rick Mercer who used the hashtag #TheGaySweater on Twitter, saying he hadn’t “seen anything like this before.”

In a statement, the centre said it hoped #TheGaySweater starts a much-needed conversation that encourages everyone to think before they misuse words like ‘gay.’

Finding people to donate their hair to the project was “surprisingly easy,” said Dias.

There was no formal announcement made; instead, by using word of mouth, news about the project grew in Toronto.

From the idea of the sweater to now, the diversity centre has been working on this for just over a year.

“If we don’t learn about the mistakes of our past – which we don’t  the daily actions that have been normalized like ‘that’s so gay’  become mainstream and common,” said Dias. “And that’s why this sweater is super cool. Because it’s not common.”

Stylist Jennifer McConville styled models wearing the sweater at David Pecaut Square in the city’s downtown on Tuesday.

“I think people will enjoy wearing a sweater for a couple minutes in fashion week, and feeling it,” said Dias.

“Nobody spent any money doing this. This is all people who have donated their time and their energy to make this piece of art, this story, this educational campaign come alive.”