Lapel watch: White ribbon for equality? Knot, really

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Eagle-eyed viewers of Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast might have noticed a small white ribbon pinned to jacket lapels of several attendees, including Oscar nominees Richard Jenkins and Josh Brolin and original screenplay winner Dustin Lance Black. This was not, however, a show of support for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union or the Quebecois peace movement (both if which have used the white ribbon as their symbol), nor did it signify that either fellow had won third prize at a county fair.

At several recent high-profile events, including the Grammy, Academy and Spirit awards in Los Angeles and a Broadway concert Tuesday night, the strip of white fabric, with a knot tied in the middle, has been worn as a symbol of marriage equality, and it was created by Angeleno Frank Voci.

I tracked down Voci on Wednesday, and he told me he had been motivated by the November passage of Proposition 8, which made marriage between same-sex couples illegal in California. He said his main goal was to keep the dialogue going and awareness high after the initial rallies and protests died down.

‘I was thinking about causes and ribbons and was just playing around with a piece of ribbon and tied it in a knot and had this ‘eureka!’ moment -- ‘tie the knot’ -- it’s perfect!’


Voci said his organization White Knot handed out about 1,000 of the pins in the run-up to the Academy Awards, which resulted in a flood of Internet traffic to the group’s website. ‘Usually we have a couple hundred hits a day, but in the 24 hours following the start of the Academy Awards we had something like 24,000 hits and even today it’s still hovering in the mid-30s.’

Voci said he’s been surprised not only by the level of response but also where it seems to be coming from. ‘I was not prepared for the reception I’ve been getting from small town America,’ he told me. ‘Just today I went to the post office and there must have been 100 letters asking for pins. The award show weekend was the shot in the arm we needed to take the issue to a national platform.’

If you’re feeling all hot to knot, you can either tie one on yourself ($25 kits contain enough knottiness to make 300 pins), or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the West Hollywood-based organization for a single pin.

And just in case you wondering -- in this case it’s more than OK to wear white after Labor Day ...
-- Adam Tschorn


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Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black at the 81st Academy Awards on Feb. 22. Credit: EPA/Paul Buck