The Joy of Gay Knitting
For over 10 years now, I’ve been denying that the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat is a gay event, but truth be told…it’s pretty gay…and it’s pretty joyous.
Correcting the Record
There was an amazing amount of joy generated at the most recent Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat. There were 41 guys at the retreat, with the vast majority of them identifying as gay.
To be honest, when most of us find out about a man who knits, our first assumption is that he is gay.
Don’t get me wrong…straight and bi guys are allowed to attend the retreat…in fact, they’re quite welcome. And we never “out” the straight guys at my retreat. They’re welcome to pass as gay if they prefer.
And also know that it takes a lot of balls to knit when you’re a straight man…and even more so to attend an event where you’re a minority.
But honestly, a big part of the appeal of the community at the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat is meeting up with other guys who are already a minority because of their chosen craft/art/hobby. It’s an amazing experience to sit down with a group of guys without having to worry about how onlookers will react…no fawning, no disdain, no being ignored…just encouragement, support and learning.
I know there are some knitter-men (and some knitter-men’s wives) who find the idea of a mostly gay event to be off-putting (or worse). Trust me, I have received some pretty hatefully, ignorant e-mails asking why our events are “so gay.” But truth be told, some of the most courageous guys who attend the men’s knitting retreats are the ones that attend with the understanding that we’re all a minority in general society and can relax in the confidence that they know who they are and attending a retreat isn’t going to change who they are.
So if you’d like to go back through the photos of the guys at the retreat this year and try and pick out the straight ones, I’d tell you that it’s not worth the effort. But at least in my eyes, they get kudos for their confidence, understanding and courage.
The photo above was taken of me during the latest Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat. I had been pondering aloud to some of the participants what would happen to the retreat if I decided to transition to being a woman (because I would no longer be allowed to attend, never mind coordinate the event). Shortly after that conversation, there was a lull in activity at the retreat (a large group of guys had gone to a local sheep farm for yarn purchase and a dyeing workshop), so I decided to check out the “drag closet” at Easton Mountain (named “The Candy Store” – Candy is the closet creator’s drag name). It was chock-full of wigs, dresses, shoes, make-up, jewelry, and other accessories, and I decided to see what it would be like.
Funny story…as I was walking upstairs into the main room, one of the retreat participants saw me walking up the stairs (in heels) and politely acknowledged me, clearly trying to look as non-plussed as possible so he didn’t offend the ugly drag queen. I laughed at his reaction, and only then did he recognize it was me. It was an amusing half hour of my life and I have to say, wearing a wig, wearing stockings, walking in heels, and sitting in a short dress without flashing others are all enormously uncomfortable. Dressing in drag is not all glamour…let me tell you.
I ended up purchasing some of the handpainted yarns that Michael Ross dyed at the tag sale at the retreat and thought they would make awesome baby booties.
I was right…no? These beauties will adorn a baby blanket gift for one of my nieces who is expecting.