Photo of the 2017 Husband’s Lounge at International Quilt Festival courtesy of Kristin LaFlamme.
I want to express my disappointment in Quilts, Inc.’s decision to continue to call the lounge area at International Quilt Festival the “husband’s lounge.” Last November I wrote a post here about why the language we use when we talk about quilters really matters. For that piece I spoke to a representative from Quilts, Inc. to hear their perspective on the name and I talked to several people in the industry about their reaction to seeing a “husband’s lounge” at this premier show. My hope was that by bringing to light the limiting, exclusionary implications of this signage, and how easy it would be to remedy, Quilts, Inc. would take note and choose to rename the lounge this year. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Quilts, Inc. is quick to point out the significant role it’s played in professionalizing and growing the quilting industry since the company was founded in 1974. A recent profile of president and CEO Karey Bresenhan, written by the company, states, “Her business acumen, enthusiasm for quilting, and perseverance helped her create and foster the quilting industry, now worth almost $4 billion a year in the U.S. alone.” The trade and consumer shows this company owns are among the most valuable and well-attended quilting events in the world.
Quilts, Inc. is a leader in this industry and they’re in a position to lead by example. Quilting isn’t just for women. It isn’t just for married women, or heterosexual women, or cis-gender women. Anybody can make a quilt and we should encourage everyone who’s interested to jump in and try it.
Attending Quilt Festival is a dream for quilt enthusiasts. People fly in from all over the world to be at this premier show, to see quilts of the highest caliber, to take classes with an all-star roster of instructors, to shop, and to be inspired. They want to be welcomed and encouraged and have their passion and enthusiasm for this art form confirmed. When some of those quilters look up and see a sign that so clearly says they don’t belong, the opposite happens.
There definitely needs to be an area at this show for people to sit down and rest. A lounge is a must. There’s simply no need to give that area a name that communicates who is and who isn’t interested in a quilt show. Just call it a lounge. What an easy fix.
Designer and award-winning quilter Andres Rosales put it to me well, “If the people who run the show know that the sign comes off as offensive and still keep it that way then that’s a sign that there’s more wrong here than some vinyl banners. Sometimes being inclusive requires a lot of work and change, I get that. In this case it requires a pair of scissors to cut the sign in half. Snip, snip, your quilt show is now more inclusive.”
Quilts, Inc., please get out your scissors.