Congressman Paul Ryan
Earlier this week, an interesting item showed up on Queerty. It seems Gap, Inc., a longtime friend to the LGBT community was hosting a fundraising breakfast for anti-gay Congressman Paul Ryan.
Ryan is best known for his budget which would drastically cut medicare, social security, possibly double interest rates on student loans and allow for the 1% to divide the country’s wealth gap even further.
Ryan also carries an anti-LGBT voting record, including a vote to enshrine anti-gay discrimination in the US Constitution by prohibiting marriage equality and a vote to prohibit DC gay parents from adopting children.
While the fundraiser had been announced and the location was part of the invitation (Gap, Inc. Headquarters in San Francisco), we researched further and discovered a more interesting story.
When word first began getting around about the fundraiser, LGBT people started making calls to Gap, Inc. to complain about the company’s seeming endorsement of the anti-gay candidate. Considering most of my own wardrobe comes from Gap subsidiary, Banana Republic, it was also important to me.
On Friday afternoon, I contacted Gap, Inc. and was sent to literally dozens of different voicemail boxes. I left messages for two different people in their media relations department and then looked back to the invitation from the event, posted at San Francisco Chronicle. A contact number for Paul Ryan’s event planner was listed on the invite, so I thought I’d try them. I spoke to Kristin Hueter, who effusively spoke about the event as one of her firm’s most successful. She told me that they were no longer going to be using Gap, Inc. Headquarters because the event sold-out and had become far too large for that location. She assured me that it was no longer an issue, and it seemed that the story I was going to post had become a non-story.
An hour later, I received a call back from Edie Kissco from Gap, Inc. I’d left a lengthy message for her outlining what I hoped to speak with her about and the moment I answered the phone she said “Let me just start by saying that the Paul Ryan event will no longer be taking place at Gap, Inc. Edie went on and told me that Gap, Inc. had contacted the organizer and asked them to find a new location.” Another call from Gap, Inc. comes in, this time from Stacy Rollo – also in media relations. I told her what Paul Ryan’s event planner relayed to me and she responded
“That is absolutely untrue…we did not know when the event was booked that it was a fundraiser for Congressman Ryan. Once we heard what this event would be, we immediately contacted the planners and asked them to find a different location.”
Gap’s Edie Kissco followed up via email:
“Gap Inc. is not hosting or organizing a fundraiser for Congressman Ryan. The fundraiser is a private event, and the location of the event has been moved. To say that Gap Inc. was or is hosting a fundraiser for Congressman Paul Ryan is factually incorrect.”
“Gap Inc. and our brands have a very strong record on LGBTQ community issues as shown by our perfect rating by the Human Rights Campaign annual Corporate Equality Index for seven years in a row. In addition, we are proud of the “Be One” Gap brand ads featuring a gay couple sharing a Gap t-shirt. This ad is part of a “Be Your Own T” campaign which expresses different personalities, heritages, styles and passions. (Incidentally, the men in the ad are a real couple).”
For your viewing pleasure, here’s the billboard unveiled yesterday in Los Angeles:
Gap’s “Be One” Campaign (photo by Chris Votaw)