CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) — Amy Sarah Marshall has been organizing the Cville Pride Festival for six years without incident until this week, when a Pennsylvania apparel maker refused to make hats with the Cville Pride festival logo, which says, “Y’all Means All.”
“It just seems surprising when we’ve been doing it for so long,” said Marshall. “We’ve never had a problem.”
The Pride festival was working through the locally-based Red Star Merchandise for festival swag, but when Red Star ordered hats with the Pride logo from Pennsylvania apparel maker Legacy Athletic, the request was denied.
“While Legacy does offer custom logos, we also carefully nurture and protect our brand,” a company representative wrote in an email to Red Star, which Marshall shared with CBS19. “One of the ways we keep a positive connotation to the brand is by avoiding doing any products with custom logos that might be deemed as controversial, political, offensive, etc.”
The email also cites the recent turmoil of the Unite the Right rally as a reason to deny the hat request, and said gay pride events are “political activism.”
“We’re not a political organization,” she said. “This is a cultural organization. This is about the community coming together and celebrating who we are. You know, we have people who are Republicans, people who are Democrats, we have everything.”
In an emailed statement, Legacy explained the decision to decline the hat order from Cville Pride, emphasizing “Legacy is neither anti-gay nor discriminatory in any way.”
Legacy, the statement said, is “primarily a college and resort apparel brand” that receives requests from various groups and organizations and is working on guidelines to help manage the requests.
“As a company, our policy is to not take orders that might be deemed controversial or political in nature,” the statement read. “That doesn’t mean we agree or disagree with the organization’s mission, but that we simply want to remain neutral in all situations.”
Marshall said there is a silver lining to the rejection by Legacy in the way a Red Star account representative responded to the incident, telling Pride festival organizers by email that he didn’t plan to continue doing business with Legacy.
“This is why we need allies,” said Marshall. “This is what people can do for each other in this climate. We can stand up for each other, we can defend each other, so that it’s not always the people in the marginalized communities who are having to stand up for themselves.”
Red Star Merchandise management did not return calls from CBS19.
Marshall said there won’t be hats with logos at this year’s festival on Sept. 16, but there will be shirts for sale.