There’s an inherent connection between fashion and raising awareness for important social causes. And a unique one was ignited this past Tuesday during Toronto Fashion Week (WMCFW). #TheGaySweater, the world’s first and only 100% ‘gay’ object, made its debut at David Peacut Square, the centre of WMCFW. I was asked to help promote the very cool and progressive social movement and it was a pleasure to help spread the word. 

The sweater, knit in  Toronto from the donated hair of more than 100 LGBT people, is explained as an extreme manifestation of the words “so gay” and was created to demonstrate how ignorant people sound when they describe something that way. The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) cleverly decided to make the words literal by creating #TheGaySweater, an object that can actually be called “so gay,” with the goal of educating people about why the word “gay” shouldn’t be used to describe something negative. The idea came from Jeremy Dias, whose past experience being bullied in high school led him to found CCGSD, formally called Jer’s Vision (which is also responsible for creating the popular international Day of Pink).

The social movement took the media by storm and received national and international attention and the buzz quickly spread across North America to the UK and as far as Australia. Popular social influencers, like George Stroumboulopoulos, Rick Mercer, Mark Tewksbury and Tegan & Sara, also helped raise awareness and the sweater was even named “Hot Slut Of The Day” on Michael K’s hugely popular and super funny blog Dlisted.

A model proudly wears #TheGaySweater during Toronto Fashion Week.

Kudos to everyone involved who helped promote this needed social message. Because initiatives like this help take a stance against bullying, homophobia and other forms of discrimination while also educating the public on how some words can have an unintended negative impact on others. #TheGaySwaeter has redefined everything about how we use the word “gay.” After all, people are gay. Things are not.

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