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Many years ago I bumped into someone wearing a grey T-shirt with the word 'dyke' above a traditional Nike swoosh. Intrigued, I asked the wearer about her arresting clothing and she told me she bought it at Gay Pride a year earlier
I came across a few more of these shirts – 'Fag’n Dike' and 'Dikea' among them – and set about getting a research grant from the American university I was teaching at to try and trace the original creators of these alternative logos and then use ethnography to understand the motivations behind them.
What happened next is another column for another day. But I got the money and attended Gay Pride marches around the world. I discovered many interesting things on my journey. And I talked to half a dozen people who had actually designed and sold these shirts, which, with typical university aplomb, I was now referring to as 'brand bricolage'.
The insights from each of the creators I tracked down was remarkably similar. Members of the LGBTQ community had grown tired of buying brands that refused to acknowledge their existence.
The creation of these alternative branded shirts was a way to make something part of their culture and a simultaneous 'fuck you' to a corporate culture that prized the 'pink pound' but could never be seen courting it for fear of scaring off the straight folks. It took me 25 nonsensical academic pages to explain this back in 1995, but you get the idea.