A sweater made completely out of human hair may sound a bit odd, if not completely disgusting. However, this itchy sweater wasn’t created to start a new trend in fashion, but rather to teach us a lesson about the words we use and how they impact others.
Jeremy Dias, founder of an Ottawa-based charity, the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD), is on a mission to change the way we use the term “gay”. It’s not uncommon to hear gay being used as an adjective to describe objects, like clothing or decor, but Dias wants to make it clear that it’s hurtful and not right.
The charity didn’t just create a standard PSA, though; they wanted to make the point using an actual gay object. The Gay Sweater is deemed the first and only gay object and that’s because it’s made completely out of the hair of gay people. Brenna MacDonald and Amelia Lyon spent hours turning the donated hair into yarn and knitting it into a very uncomfortable sweater. MacDonald even donated her own hair and felt empowered to make a statement about her own sexuality through the process.
CCGSD hopes to change our language in an effort to eliminate bullying, homophobia and other forms of discrimination. Similar to the Always “Like a Girl” campaign, a term that is used to describe an actual person shouldn’t also be used to describe an object or anything else in a negative way.
Ignorance isn’t bliss and, despite the intention, there is no excuse to use the term “gay” in any way other than to describe a person who is actually gay. “I didn’t mean it that way” or “I have no issue with gay people” doesn’t justify the use of the term. It’s 2015 and it’s time to expand our vocabularies so that our words aren’t causing harm to the people around us.