Harlem’s American Apparel on 125th Street and around the world is known for its support of the LGBTQ community almost as much as its lamé leggings and controversial advertising. But one of the items in the clothing company’s Pride 2016 collection is drawing ire for what critics say is exclusionary language.
The line, which Buzzfeed reports was created in partnership with Human Rights Campaign, includes shirts with rainbow American flags or hats that say “Make America Gay Again.” But at question is a canvas tote bag released by the company, which shows the slogan “Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transgender/Queer/Ally,” spelled out in rainbow letters.
The problem? The “A” in LGBTQA+ traditionally stands for “asexual” or sometimes “agender,” representing those who either don’t feel sexual attraction or identify outside the gender spectrum. Instead, the company chose to use “ally,” which critics say erases asexual individuals from the discussion.
On the company’s Instagram, user @megthepanda laid it out in a comment: “Allies do not need representation. Asexuals do. The message of items such as this are meant to be that everyone is loved and everyone is worthwhile. Society already tells allies this; that’s why asexual erasure cannot be disregarded. The A is a source of strength for the asexual community and should not be taken away in order to thank heterosexuals for being decent human beings.”
On Twitter, people began using the hashtag #GiveItBack, a reference to GLAAD’s #GotYourBack hashtag for allies, to try to prompt the company to change the line.