American Apparel believes that sexuality should be celebrated, not condemned. When California voters passed Prop 8 in 2008, we let our community know we would support whatever stand they wanted to take. American Apparel believes in freedom, expression and equality, things that are inherently condemned in the prohibition of gay marriage. After printing a few hundred Legalize Gay t-shirts for a rally near our factory in downtown Los Angeles, the company received thousands of requests from people all over the world who asked for us to expand it.
With many of our employees and customers identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, we are a company that is vocal about our support for the protection of gay rights. Scores of our employees were on the frontlines of protests in cities across America, handing out hundreds of Legalize Gay t-shirts to supporters, and putting them in our store windows in protest of violence against gays and discriminatory court decisions. We also had a lot of fun at PRIDE rallies and celebrations. We've since given away over 50,000 of these shirts, run protest advertisements nationwide and even partnered with HRC for their enormous march on Washington.
When some people wanted us to stop carrying BUTT Magazine, an important gay culture publication, we refused to back down and continue stocking it in all of our stores today. Xtra!, a gay Canadian newspaper, supported our decision in an editorial:
That's why it's so wonderful to read in this issue about the recent flap over American Apparel's support of Butt magazine. When the story first broke in the mainstream I was sure I knew the outcome. American Apparel would pull Butt from its stores, issue an apology to its customers and fire some poor schmo from the purchasing department.
Instead it called Butt "a wonderful fashion, culture and art magazine," acknowledged that it was a hot seller and said it would continue to offer it to its customers.
American Apparel handled the objection and hysterical mainstream media coverage rationally and brilliantly. It's so encouraging that a large US retailer is willing to embrace sexual expression - gay sexual expression - not only as a moral and aesthetic act of goodness but also as a singularly effective marketing tool.
Sometimes what we do is controversial and not everyone agrees with our opinion. We heard this loud and clear when bigots shattered one of our store windows in Washington DC to intimidate us into pulling the shirts from our displays. It didn't work--and we're campaigning now stronger than ever. We hope that you can understand that we're sincere about this and that we think it's important, just like we are about Legalize LA.