Gay Sweater greeted warmly in Winnipeg


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The famous Gay Sweater, spun from the hair of gay and transgender people, made a stop in Winnipeg Nov. 4 at the Manitoba LGBTQ youth forum at the Manitoba legislature.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/11/2015 (2586 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The famous Gay Sweater, spun from the hair of gay and transgender people, made a stop in Winnipeg Nov. 4 at the Manitoba LGBTQ youth forum at the Manitoba legislature.

The multi-hued garment with a rainbow row of coloured buttons has been shown in museums and conferences all over the world, including a stop in Paris.

“The gay sweater idea arose from the derogative expression heard repeatedly in schools — ‘That’s so gay,’ ” said Jeremy Dias, the founder of the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, who helped bring the sweater to Winnipeg.

“Queer and trans people spun their hair together to show we are authentically together on making the first and only truly gay object,” says Dias. “What’s really neat about it is coming together to stop homophobia and transphobia.”

The sweater came to Winnipeg from the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa, where Dias lives. “Everybody knows an object can’t have gender identity or sexual orientation,” says Dias.

Transgender activist Shandi Strong, who was the forum’s keynote speaker, tried the sweater on. “It’s an itchy thing!” she said.

“So it should be,” insistsed Dias. “Homophobia is uncomfortable. You want to take it off right away, but sometimes you just have to live with it. But the longer you wear the sweater, the more you get used to the itchiness and discomfort.”

Students representing gay-straight alliances in and around Winnipeg attended the forum. About 60 students tried on the sweater.

The students also met with Manitoba MLAs over lunch and talked about the problems they face and exchanged ideas on solving problems caused by homophobia.

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Supplied photo The Gay Sweater is woven from the hair of gay and transgender people.

CELEBRATING IDEAS: John Elder Robison, best known for inventing the fire-shooting guitar mechanism for the rock group Kiss, has Asperger syndrome.

The neurological disorder is part of the autism spectrum and is characterized by difficulty with social interaction and non-verbal communication.

Robison is also known for his two books on life with Asperger syndrome, Look Me in the Eye and Be Different.

He spoke twice at the National Conference on Asperger Syndrome in Winnipeg Oct. 29 and 30 at Canad Inns Polo Park.

People with the disorder affectionately refer to each other as “Aspies.” About 150 attendees — families, friends, caregivers, educators, social workers and government officials from across Canada — attended the planning forums, speeches and special panels on subjects such as love on the autism spectrum, transitioning to adulthood and employment and Manitoba employers and their experiences hiring Aspies.

Tom Jackman, one of the contributors to the anthology Autism: The Gift That Needs To Be Opened, flew in from St. John’s, N.L., to bring greetings from Autism Canada. He and Adam Schwartz, a comedian with Asperger’s, were some of the participants on a panel on love and relationship challenges.

They had some serious things to say, but they were also hilarious. For instance, Schwartz warned he’s calling his upcoming book, I Have Asperger’s, So I’m Better Than You!

SPOTTED: Kerri Irvin-Ross, Manitoba’s minister of family services; John Legget, president of St. Amant Centre; Roma Thorlakson from the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba, co-chairwomen Anne Kresta and Leanne Coleman-Kamphuis and event organizer Carolyn Rickey of Cedars Communications.


CP John Elder Robison

UNIQUE PORTRAITS: Otherworldly photos of modern Winnipeggers are part of the wild and crazy experimental projects photographer Megan Wilson performs with her models. And she has a willing accomplice in Harriet Berkel.

Earlier in the fall, Wilson took Berkel out to an old church cemetery, and using some smoke effects, created eye-catching photos of her subject in Victorian dress, picturesque hats and a burgundy slash of lipstick.

Megan Wilson

To talk to Wilson about a photographic experiment with you, call 204-688-2180.


DOWNTOWN BIZ SAFEWALK: It gets dark much earlier in November, but there’s still no need to be afraid to visit downtown Winnipeg. If you would like a safety escort to get to your car from a dinner or an event downtown, you can call the Downtown BIZ’s ambassadors at 204-958-SAFE (204-958-7233).

They will join you, free of charge, as you walk to your car downtown from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.

“We keep an eye out for concerts and games and put more people on later than 11 p.m. to accommodate people,” says Jason Syvixay of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

Downtown Watch ambassadors also patrol downtown blocks and alleys all day and night until 4 a.m.


Got tips and special events? Call Maureen’s tip line at 204-474-1116.

Harriet Berkel
Maureen Scurfield

Maureen Scurfield
Advice columnist

Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.


Updated on Monday, November 9, 2015 8:20 AM CST: Rearranges photos

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