Logoed headwear was at the center of controversy connected with an LGBTQ event in Charlottesville, VA.
The issue arose when Pennsylvania-based Legacy Athletic declined to fulfill an order for logoed hats for Cville Pride Festival 2017, an event that celebrates the Charlottesville area Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer community. Legacy is not ASI-listed.
The hats were to say "Y'All Means All Cville Pride Festival 2017" – a slogan intended to extol diversity.
Still, Legacy Athletic felt the event was too political and declined to fulfill the order – a decision that angered event organizers.
"We got an email back from the company saying that they could not support political activism, and since we are a gay-rights festival they saw that as political activism," Amy Sarah Marshall of Charlottesville Pride Community Network, the organization running the festival, told NBC29. "LGBTQ people are marginalized, usually, and we are at risk of (these) kind of people seeing us as being something that can be chosen or not chosen, as opposed to we're human beings like anybody else. That is discrimination."
Red Star Merchandise (asi/305668), a Charlottesville-based distributor providing logoed products for the festival, expressed support for CVille Pride. The company said that it was disappointed by Legacy Athletic’s decision and would not be sending Legacy orders anymore. Red Star also vowed to spread the word about Legacy’s decision.
"Red Star, actually, they wrote back and said they were horrified by this statement by this other company and they're not going to work with them. For us, it's an example of why allies are so important to our community," Marshall told NBC29.
Legacy Athletic explained its decision in a statement:
Regarding our decision not to produce hats for the 2017 Cville Pride Festival, we want to emphasize Legacy is neither anti-gay nor discriminatory in any way. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Legacy’s core has always been a brand in the collegiate, resort and corporate channels; and this is the realm in which we wish to remain. However, as our company’s popularity has grown, we continue to receive requests from all sorts of clubs, organizations and event planners with requests for putting their logos on our branded apparel.
Thus, we recently implemented new guidelines and policies to help us manage this influx of requests. These guidelines and brand standards will ensure we stay committed to our core brand.
As a company, our policy includes the thoughtful and deliberate decision to avoid orders that may be potentially perceived within the realm of political and social activism regardless of what side of the ideological spectrum those organizations or events fall. A decision to reject graphics that could fall into these realms in no way means we agree or disagree with the organization’s mission, but that we simply want to remain neutral in all situations.
In conclusion, we hope this explanation provides much-needed context as to the basis for our decision. We respect all walks of life and value deeply in the freedoms afforded to us all as Americans. Thank you for listening. -Legacy Athletic
The 6th Annual Cville Pride Festival was scheduled for Saturday, September 16. It was being held in the same city where, about a month earlier, the Unite the Right Rally occurred. The rally included white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right supporters who opposed the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The protesters reportedly engaged in chants that were racist, anti-semitic and anti-LGBTQ. The event turned deadly when protester James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly drove a vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather D. Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal from Charlottesville.