good deeds, punished

Gay Bashings Are The Perfect Marketing Opportunity For American Apparel

When University of Wisconsin-Whitewater student Lauren Meyer was attacked by two men last month for wearing an American Apparel “Legalize Gay” shirt (she was punched in the face as the men hurled gay slurs), dozens of supporters rallied on campus to raise awareness about hate crimes. Also jumping to her support? American Apparel, which sent some 500 shirts to campus to give away to students gratis, and also purchased a full-page ad in the student paper on Wednesday (pictured) declaring the company an ally to the gays. Corporate ally, or creepy hanger-on?

First, let’s get this out of the way: Any company that comes to the defense of our community deserves commendation. For every outfit like American Apparel that lauds The Gays with attention and good vibes, in good and bad times, there are thousands that ignore us, even when attacks against us happen in our own communities (see: Target, Minnesota).

But is anyone else a little skeezed out by a company that’s using a violent gay bashing as a means to market itself? The t-shirts themselves don’t carry any American Apparel branding, but I’d bet most young gays who see the shirts known where they’re from. Moreover, AA is touting its activism by buying ads to promote itself — which could be seen as a healthy showing of support, or if you’re a cynic, a gross misappropriation of a disturbing event for a corporate marketing opportunity.

It reminds me of how the Human Rights Campaign is using recent bullycides to solicit donations (without any transparency about how those funds will be used in “HRC’s fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.” By paying Joe Solmonese’s salary?) Raising awareness: Good. Murky attempts to profit off violence? Upsetting.

You tell me.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #americanapparel #demonstrations #fashion stories and more


  • Mike in Asheville

    Well JD, you prove, once again, the old saying, “no good deed goes unpunished.”

    Wouldn’t it be great if American Apparel sold 10 million “legalize gay” T-shirts? Who cares that they make a $5/shirt profit (just a guess)? But 10 million young Americans expressing their support for civil rights for all — priceless.


    @Mike in Asheville: 100% Co-Sign.

    Not only are they giving the shirts away on the campus, they are putting themselves right in the scope of the rightwing lunatic nutbag orgs which will most likely begin a boycott of American Apparal in like a nanosecond……….

    I am not a “little skeezed” I am a whole bunch gratefull a company decides to put its neck out for the Gays and quite possibly a Gay teen contemplating suicide may see a lotsa teens wearing these shirts and realize they truly are not alone………

    Sorry JD: EPIC FAIL

  • Charlie

    A company named American Apparel (keep in mind that their core branding statements is that they are American) is putting itself out there as being in opposition to homophobia. This is a good thing.

    Let’s say they donated the shirts anonymously. Let’s say they didn’t put their name on that ad. We would assume it all game from a gay rights group.

    Hon… have some hot cocoa.

  • Robert

    This really seems like making an issue where there shouldn’t be one. You know what they could have also done? Nothing. They could have even made some money that way.

    There’s a point where skepticism becomes counterproductive.

  • Cam

    They have made a statement that beyond a shadow of a doubt says that they are pro-gay, rather than doing what Target and Best Buy did and hoping nobody will notice, and they are getting attacked for it!?!?!?

  • Richard

    …to bad the rest of there clothes are fucking uuuuugly!

  • Jon B

    There are plenty of reasons to be weary of AA… their commitment to gay rights is not one of them.

    There’s a time an a place where the whole take-a-counter-intuitive-stance-on-a-story thing works. But not with stories like this, and also, likely not here. We get enough bad news on this site… we don’t need stories about corporate responsibility being turned into conspiracy theories…

  • dave

    I am not at all “skeezed” by American Apparel passing out T-Shirts;(one can always use them to wash the car, etc.) Comparing them to anything that HRC does is a low blow. HRC has veered SO far off course, it is a sad shame. But as usual I appreciate Queerty keeping the debates and discussions alive.

  • Ken S

    If not in response to a specific incident, then pray tell, when is a company like this– which does exist to make money– *supposed* to just give away 500 shirts and spend their resources on an advertisement that’ll place them squarely in the sights of socially conservative douchebag boycotters?

    Did someone in some boardroom at AA say “this could be an opportunity to get some good press with ‘the gays'”? Maybe. Hell, probably! But you can also probably assume that somebody else at that table was thinking “this is an opportunity to do some good,” and arrayed against them was someone saying “giving away 500 of our product? that’s stupid” and someone else arguing “there are way more bible-thumpers out there than gays, and this could put us on their bad side.” And the ‘side’ that had us in mind favourably won out. Their motives might not be pure as fresh snow (ugh, snow’s coming!), but they still took a risk on saying something on fags’ behalf. That deserves a little credit.

  • Roger Rabbit

    LOL, not even Madonna has said or done anything, (ever?) and look how much money she has made off of us without supporting us.

    Their customers, their way of thinking AND their products were threatened. Like a good mom, they saw a situation, they stepped up. They made a difference. I’m HAPPY to buy one of their t-shirts, and if it helps promote the fact that they are willing to stand up, I’ll stand in line to buy one! At least they ARE making a difference!

    Obama (and HRC) has said a lot and done nothing to stop DADT or DOMA. But these guys didn’t say anything, they just started making great t-shirts in support of their customer base that they believe in and back. Guess who’s making a bigger difference.

    So, PLEASE have some hot cocoa laced heavily with Baileys and Irish Whiskey.

  • Theo

    I’m surprised Queerty questions thing like this. GLBT community and GLBT supporters should be thankful for American Apparel’s involvement. Please stop alienating our friends and allies by being cynical.

  • Leslie

    You’re bothered by this? OMG. A brand called “American Apparel” wants to support gay people and you find this somehow devious? I suppose then you’re changing the name of this site then? Pot-Kettle you get the picture.

  • Vman455

    @Ken S: Exactly–no one’s motives are as “pure as the driven snow.” If the executives at American Apparel saw an opportunity to make some profit and further our cause, they should be applauded for it. What’s Queerty going to do next, advocate the banning of gay bars because–gasp!–they target and make a profit off gay clientele?

    American Apparel was already producing and selling the shirts before the incident occurred, remember. They didn’t have to give away 500 shirts and pay for a full-page ad in the wake of it, but they did. I see no wrong here.

  • jason

    A lot of these gay bashings are not caused by right-wing nut jobs but by liberals. The bashers are liberal men who have grown up in an American culture which teaches them – through porn and music – that girl-girl is hot but guy-guy is gross. Blame porn and music, not just the right wing.

    As for American Apparel, I think they’re just exploiting the bashings for their own benefit.

    Keep in mind that American Apparel is very disrespectful towards women in that it frequently portrays them as sex objects. As gay and bisexual men, we ought to call out American Apparel on its appallingly sexist treatment of women.

  • UMB

    Quick, an ally, shun them!

  • tallskin2

    @Jason – “A lot of these gay bashings are not caused by right-wing nut jobs but by liberals.”

    – Do you have some evidence for this?

    “The bashers are liberal men who have grown up in an American culture which teaches them – through porn and music – that girl-girl is hot but guy-guy is gross. Blame porn and music, not just the right wing.”

    – That’s why gay men were treated so well over the past 1,500 years before porn appeared on videos and DVDs.

    Yes, the golden age of straight boy tolerance towards man-on-man action destroyed by those evil porn merchants.

    How stupid of us not to have made this connection before.

    Solution: Ban straight porn and you achieve full gay equality instantly.

  • Akira

    RED FLAG !!!!! Queerty, be aware of traitor please. We can’t afford to lose more of our friends and allies.

  • Yellow Bone

    @jason: You are a complete and utter fool.


    Queerty, do you like bashing our allies? You must be owned by News Corp.

  • Evan

    Don’t like AA clothes. Don’t like AA corporate culture, sexism, harassment, objectification, discrimination. Do like AA sticking its neck out for gays.

    I don’t see anything sinister in this…it’s about as cynically profit-motivated as e.g. Apple’s and Google’s employee partner benefits and gay rights support. That is, it’s calculated with an eye to profit, but as a result of a conscious choice between two paths each of which could lead to increased profit. They can court the gays or they can court the ‘phobes. They, along with Disney and a few other big names, picked us. That counts for something.

  • jason

    Just because someone claims to be an ally, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good for the community as a whole. Adolf Hitler loved dogs, and no doubt endeared himself to dogs and dog lovers in general. But he was also a vile piece of human debris who brought misery to millions.

    American Apparel may claim to be pro-gay but they treat women in their advertising in an appallingly sexist and sleazy manner. Fuck off, AA.

  • jason

    I swear that if Adolf Hitler were alive today and championing pro-gay legislation, most of you would be jumping up and down in excitement and donating money to him. Such is your short-sightedness.

    Stop being one-dimensional queens. By all means, praise the pro-gay. But do it on the basis of their overall goodness, not just the sectional.

  • meego

    @jason: Amen to that! AA is only jumping on the band wagon to make money. Period!

Comments are closed.