Charlottesville Pride Festival Organizers Run Into Issue Over Merchandise

Posted: Updated: Sep 13, 2017 11:46 AM
Shirt design of Cville Pride Festival 2017 (Image courtesy cvillepride.org ) Shirt design of Cville Pride Festival 2017 (Image courtesy cvillepride.org )
Amy Sarah Marshall Amy Sarah Marshall
Lisa Green Lisa Green

Charlottesville’s annual pride festival is set for next week, but organizers are caught up in an issue over merchandise for the event.

The Charlottesville Pride Community Network (CPCN) wanted to expand merchandise options ahead of Cville Pride Festival 2017, but a new vendor has rejected a hat idea because it claims it's a "political activism issue."

The design for the festival this year says "Ya'll Means All."

"We thought this year's message was pretty important in the big scheme of our country and our city right now," Lisa Green said.

CPCN typically works with Charlottesville’s Red Star Merchandise for festival items like buttons and shirts. This year, they reached out to Pennsylvania-based Legacy Athletic for extra help.

Organizers said they were shocked when Legacy Athletic refused to work with a festival focused on the LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer) community.

"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," said Amy Sarah Marshall with Charlottesville Pride

"In the large scheme of things it's a minor detail, but it still shows the systemic problem we are having," Green said.

According to the email, Legacy Athletic refused the order to keep a "positive connotation" for the brand.

"LGBTQ people are marginalized, usually, and we are at risk of this kind of people seeing us as being something that be chosen or not chosen, as opposed to we're human beings like anybody else. That is discrimination," Marshall said.

Red Star Merchandise told NBC29, as well as the festival organizers, that they were disappointed with Legacy Athletic’s decision and it will not be working with that company again.

"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," said Marshall.

When reached for comment, Legacy Athletic issued the following 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