A Washington D.C. area American Apparel store had its window shattered by vandals on Tuesday, allegedly in a protest of the store’s ‘Legalize Gay’ t-shirt display.
American Apparel has been a longtime outspoken advocate in support of LGBT equality and began printing ‘Legalize Gay’ on its trademark, multicolored plain tees in November 2008 in response to California’s passage of Prop. 8 – a bill that repealed marriage protections for same-sex couples in that state.
Although American Apparel does not donate all proceeds from the shirt’s sales to LGBT organizations, the company notes on its website that:
Scores of our employees were on the frontlines of [Prop. 8] protests in Los Angeles, handing out hundreds of Legalize Gay t-shirts to supporters, and we have donated over $17,000 worth of these shirts to protestors, Harvey Milk High School in New York City and local gay-interest businesses. We plan on donating at least 1,000 more to organizations that support marriage equality, and are currently discussing potential projects with GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco.
The Washington Blade reported yesterday that Kassandra Powell came to work on Tuesday to find that her Silver Springs, MD store had its front display window broken. The ‘Legalize Gay’ t-shirt display still stood among the broken glass. Powell, who manages the store, later reported that nothing had been stolen.
Just one day later, a Georgetown store received a phone call from an anonymous male who threatened to break that store’s window unless store management agreed to remove the ‘Legalize Gay’ tees from its windows. The caller said that he “found the shirts offensive.”
American Apparel responded to the threat in a statement on Wednesday that let would-be vandals know the company will not be intimidated:
Not only are [vandals] not going to prevent us from speaking out on [marriage for same sex couples], an issue that is important to this company and our employees, but we'll continue to run Legalize Gay advertisements in papers across the DC- Metro area. We'll also send Legalize Gay t-shirts to any group in Washington DC that is fighting for gay rights and will help support any protest or rally for the cause. We don't find this kind of thing funny and we definitely don't find it intimidating.
GLAAD applauds American Apparel for standing its ground in a commitment to fairness and equality and will continue to monitor any developments related to this issue.