LONDON — Support is growing for Elton John’s campaign to boycott Dolce & Gabbana in a controversy testing the limits of free speech in the social media age.
The 67-year-old entertainer said he is boycotting the fashion house after founders Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana told Italian magazine Panorama they disagree with in-vitro fertilization.
“No chemical children: life has a natural course, there are things that shouldn’t be modified,” the magazine says in a quote attributed to both designers in a feature that hit Italian newsstands last week. The magazine also promises insights from the designers on “the importance of relationships within conventional families with very, very traditional values.”
The statements struck some as hypocritical coming from a couple that was romantically involved until 2005 (they continued working together after the break-up). Still, Gabbana has dropped hints in past interviews of his “traditional” views toward family structure. He told an Italian publication in 2006 that he had once approached a female friend and asked her to be a surrogate mother because he was “opposed to the idea of a child growing up with two gay parents.”
John’s ire focused on the interview’s reference to “synthetic” children born from “rented” wombs. The comments elicited a strong repudiation from Sir Elton, who has two children with his husband, David Furnish, through IVF.
“How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’. And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF – a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfill their dream of having children,” he said Sunday on Instagram.
“Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again.”
By Sunday afternoon the hastag #BoycottDolceGabbana had been used more than 14,000 on Twitter by supporters including celebrities Ricky Martin, Al Roker and Courtney Love. Tennis star Martina Navratilova tweeted her support for John’s post, saying “My D&G shirts are going in the bin — don’t want ANYONE to wear them.”
Gabbana also took to social media to defend his “freedom to speak,” calling John a “fascist” in an Instagram comment that was later deleted, according to CNN affiliate TGCom24.
Gabbana later issued a statement saying he and Dolce had not intended to judge others.
“We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it. We talked about our way of seeing reality, but it was never our intention to judge other people’s choices,” the statement read.
Dolce also defended his views in statement and said he was not applying them to other people.
“I’m Sicilian and I grew up in a traditional family, made up of a mother, a father and children. I am very well aware of the fact that there are other types of families and they are as legitimate as the one I’ve known. But in my personal experience, family had a different configuration….I was talking about my personal view, without judging other people’s choices and decisions,” the statement read.
Gabbana also sought to discredit reports that they told Panorama in this instance they objected to same-sex adoption, even though Gabbana took that position in his 2006 interview.
By Sunday evening, Gabbana’s Instagram feed was full of screengrabs and reposts from people who supported his right to voice his opinion.
“It’s a shame that you are not allowed to say what you like,” one person said in a comment on Gabbana’s Instagram. “You have every right to say what you want, especially as you weren’t disrespectful nor immature like Elton was. His comments are unnecessary, cheap and childish.”