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FCKH8 is an online retail store and activist organization that aims to highlight and raise public awareness of issues relating to the LGBTQ+ community by selling ad-hoc lines of T-shirts and other wearable merchandises bearing pro-equality, anti-racist and anti-sexist messages. While the company has received some positive exposure in the media through celebrity endorsements and bold campaign strategies, it has also come under criticism for commercially exploiting the LGBTQ movement, as well as a number of other causes relating to social injustices, and heavily pandering to young adults with provocative slogans.
FCKH8, or SMS shortspeak for “fuck hate,” was launched by LGBTQ+ activist Luke Montgomery under the domain FCKH8.com in August 2010. At the time of the store launch, the website initially offered t-shirts and buttons with three different slogans advocating same-sex marriage (shown below).
In October 2010, FCKH8 released a promotional YouTube video featuring LGBTQ+ activists of all ages delivering an expletive-ridden rant against homophobia (shown below). The video has more than 2.1 million views.
Grandfather’s Letter to Homophobic Daughter
On September 30th, 2013, The official FCKH8 Facebook page shared a scanned image of a letter allegedly written by a grandfather to his daughter chastising her disavowal of her gay son and criticizing her backward-mindedness. The post immediately went viral on Facebook, garnering more than 9,600 shares and 1,360 comments in just over two months.
Pro-Gay Coloring Book Campaign
On October 30th, 2013, FCKH8 announced a new campaign on its official Tumblr blog pledging to deliver 10,000 copies of pro-gay coloring books to Russian children via mail during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, if the post receives more than 100,000 likes. In the press release, the group explained the direct mail campaign as a way to protest against the Russian government’s enforcement of its controversial anti-gay propaganda laws, and secondly, to inform kids in Russia that being gay is okay.
The announcement was mostly met with positive feedback from the Tumblr community, though some expressed valid concerns about the group’s moral reasoning as well as the legal consequences for the potential recipients, most notably from Tumblr user Yanderemeganekko who criticized the campaign as “a method for spreading awareness in the west” and warned that “this will just get people in trouble.”
Racism Is Not Over
On September 9th, 2014, in the wake of the fatal shooting of black teenager Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the weeks-long riots which ensued thereafter, FCKH8 launched a new line of t-shirts, wristbands and bumper stickers bearing the slogan “Racism isn’t over. But I’m over racism,” along with a public service announcement video addressing the reality of racial profiling as told by six black youths from the town of Ferguson.
F Bombs for Feminism
On October 22nd, 2014, FCKH8 launched a new line of t-shirts, sweatshirts and other merchandises imprinted with the slogan “Girls Just Want to Have Fun-damental Rights.” The announcement was accompanied by a PSA video titled “Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism,” which features a group of young girls, between the age of six and 13, dressed as pink princesses and using explicit language to draw attention to gender inequality issues like pay inequality and the rape culture.