March 31, 2015

Source: Shutterstock

The stink of bullshittery clinging to the so-called “€œgay sweater”€ first enters the nostrils upon reading that it traces its origins back to “€œa lighthearted conversation”€ at an Ottawa workplace.

For one thing, there’s a local bylaw dating back to the Dewar era forbidding “€œlighthearted conversations”€ in offices in and around Canada’s national capital. (Ottawa’s unofficial motto? “€œIf you”€™re looking for fun, go to Hull.”€)

And let’s get serious: Employees at any enterprise dubbing itself “€œthe Canadian Centre of Gender and Diversity”€ would certainly be incapable of carrying on a “€œlighthearted conversation”€ anyhow.

Especially when you consider what they were supposedly chatting about ever so casually:

Every single day, you hear, “€˜That’s so gay,”€™ and you bite your tongue and you ruminate. A bunch of us were thinking, “€˜Why don”€™t we make a gay sweater?”€™”€

It’s news to me that people who “€œwork”€ at places with “€œGender”€ and/or “€œDiversity”€ in their names ever “€œbite their tongue”€ whenever anyone within earshot utters one of this week’s dozens of forbidden words.

“€œIf a Down Syndrome advocacy group wanted people to stop saying “€œretard,”€ how would a hat “€œbedazzled”€ with the clipped toenails of mongoloid children serve as an effective pedagogical tool?”€

More likely, a scowling, tattooed, pink-haired harridan draws herself up to her full weight and informs the offender that their “€œinappropriate,”€ “€œproblematic”€ word usage has rendered her “€œuncomfortable”€ and “€œunsafe.”€

And then there’s the Evel Knievel-worthy water-cooler conversational leap from “€œlighthearted”€ faux outrage and self-congratulatory stoicism to… knitting and clothing design?

The resulting “€œgay sweater,”€ having since evolved from moronic concept to unavoidable reality, is now being widely touted, absurdly and arrogantly, as “€œthe world’s first and only gay object.”€

Funny how, despite my raging heterosexuality and lack of a university degree in “€œstudies”€ of any kind, I”€™m somehow able to effortlessly think up any number of items far more deserving of that dubious title, from your average homoerotic Grecian urn to the warehouse-worth of gewgaws bearing Liberace’s piano-shaped signature.

(Gay writer “€œThe Guyliner”€ agrees with me, although he nominates “€œdouble butt plugs.”€)

Nope, what makes this sweater superlatively “€œgay”€ is that it “€œwas crafted from 20-pounds of hair”€ harvested from “€œhundreds of LGBT Canadians.”€

And despite the date stamped on this column, no, I”€™m not trying to squeeze in an early April Fool’s Day gag. Give me credit: I”€™d be able to think of something way funnier than that.

Set aside if you can the sheer Ed Gein-level ghoulishness of such an object, and its apparently accidental evocation of (debunked) Nazi lampshades and (authentic) piles of shoes.

Overlook the inconvenient fact that the textile artist who helped make the sweater “€œdonated 14 inches of her own hair”€; with that much to spare, she couldn”€™t possibly be a lesbian and therefore I declare this “€œgay object”€ to be contaminated with impure hetero cooties.

Ignore the glaringly obvious: that this sweater is so unspeakably hideous that no gay man would ever wear it.

The real trouble is, the “€œgay sweater”€ doesn”€™t, symbolically speaking, scan.

Compared to the French surrealist objets it most resembles, the “€œgay sweater”€ is entirely devoid of Meret Oppenhiem’s whimsical (if one-joke) wit.

Even as a work of ham-fisted didactic propaganda, it makes “€œThe Dinner Party”€ look like a masterwork of subtlety.


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