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“Five minutes ago, I just answered the phone and got a death threat from a man with a bad phone connection,” the female Silver Spring employee wrote to superiors in an e-mail. The caller asked the employee why the pro-gay shirts were still on display, then threatened to take action. He said, “If I didn’t take it down, bad things can happen to me, resulting in drastic measures,” she wrote.
The hazy threats have made the nightly news, but the incidents have also sent some clearer-headed telephone traffic to the Maryland store. “[The employee] told us that she’s received plenty of other phone calls thanking the store for sticking with the ‘Legalize Gay’ display,” says Jonny Makeup, an American Apparel rep.
Makeup says the threats are an anomaly in the history of the T-shirt, which American Apparel first produced to support campaigns to repeal California’s anti-gay-marriage measure, Proposition 8. Until this week, Makeup says that American Apparel has never received so much as a complaint about the shirts. “Not even in our Midwest mall stores,” he says.
Now, the shirt’s D.C.-area detractors will have more opportunities to get angry—-and maybe finally get caught. A broken window and a couple of anonymous phone calls were enough to send American Apparel into “Legalize Gay” overdrive. Makeup says that the shirts, which the company often donates to pride groups around the country, are in-demand as ever—-and that D.C. will see more shipments of the shirts in coming days. “We’re putting them on display in all our stores,” says Makeup. Also in the works? “We plan on making sure there’s more security,” he says.