That sweater’s so gay

The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity has created a real gay object to combat misuse of the word.


To get kids to think twice about calling things “gay” to denote something negative, the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity has created a real gay object – a sweater knit from the donated hair of more than 100 people in the LGBT community.

Today at David Pecaut Square during Toronto Fashion Week, stylist Jennifer McConville (who is regularly featured as an expert on CBC shows like Steven and Chris) will be styling a model wearing #TheGaySweater to debut the campaign from Toronto agency Saatchi & Saatchi.

The timing was a way to get dialogue going at a time other than during Pride Week, when the audience is already aware of the issues, says Jeremy Dias, director of the CCGSD. The idea was also to do something more experiential that would stand out from a typical PSA, adds Brian Sheppard, EVP and ECD at Saatchi & Saatchi.

To get the hair for the woven sweater, the organization used word of mouth in the LGBT community, asking people to donate to an art project aimed at getting people to stop calling things “gay” in a derogatory sense. “People really wanted their stories and their lives and their experiences woven into this,” Dias says.

#TheGaySweater project also features a short film on a CCGSD microsite – where visitors can also donate to the organization’s efforts – and a social media push around the object. The video features members of the CCGSD, academics and others talking about why it’s wrong to call something “so gay,” even if you don’t mean it “that way.”

The site also includes educational materials created for special age groups – from elementary to high-school level – centred around diversity and acceptance, as well as why calling things “gay” is inappropriate.

A series of online videos also shows the process of making the sweater. All of the videos are being shared socially, with no media buy, but OutTV has donated airtime to show the main Gay Sweater video on its channel since hearing about the initiative.