Dozens of members of the lighting, production, and theatre community took to Facebook over the weekend to express disapproval of posts made by Apollo CEO Joel Nichols, which have since been deleted, that some stated they felt were intolerant, specifically of minorities and the LGBTQ community.
A Facebook post by New York-based lighting designer Jake DeGroot on Friday went viral over the weekend, stating that, "It has recently come to my attention that the CEO and owner of Apollo, Joel Nichols, has been using his public Facebook page to share and spread vile, hateful, pro-Trump, anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-PoC, anti-Union opinions and links." Read the full post and comments here.
Hundreds of shares and dozens of comments fueled the discussion, with several comments calling for a boycott of Apollo products and stating they would personally call the company to express their concern. While Nichols' Facebook account was deactivated amid the attention, DeGroot posted dozens of screens shots he says were taken from Nichols' page.
While Nichols did not immediately reply, in a public post on Facebook this morning, he responded to the allegations with the following statement:
"Thank you to Jake & Stephanie who started all this last week. It has been a 2x4 to the back of the head experience for me. Something we can all use once in a while. It might have seemed like Apollo has not been very responsive on social media, but we are a small company that cannot deploy a ton of people to this. It had to come from me, and I needed time to ask myself some tough personal questions. This was a very emotional weekend and a good journey for me. Since this all started with Facebook, I will use Apollo’s Facebook page to post anything related to it. Please share and or follow us. We will post comments as it relates.
Note: I will ask that you help me stay positive, there is plenty of negativity and hurt that I have already caused. We will not post comments we feel are not moving the discussion forward or overly hateful in nature. Clean shots I deserve."
Nichols also posted apologies to Apollo dealers and customers with a similar sentiment, referring the "boycott Apollo campaign" and accepting full responsibility, also noting that his opinion is "not a reflection on the Apollo staff" and that he deleted his Facebook account and "vowed to not go back to that person."
You can also read his open letter to his staff on the Apollo Facebook page.
Several comments on DeGroot's original post defended the right to free speech, as well as Nichols' opinion being his own and private.
What do you think?
Update at 5:07pm
Jake DeGroot shared his reaction to Nichols' post, noting that he is "pleased to see this morning that Joel came forward with responses in the form of open letters to his employees and his dealers/customers," he says in an email to Live Design. "It is very clear that his mindset about this topic has changed dramatically since he commented on my Facebook post Friday night (a comment he since deleted). It is also clear that the new attention being paid to his politics was deeply unsettling to Joel."
DeGroot adds that he and other commenters hope that Nichols' will "back up his apologies with action," including calling for "large donations to donations of a portion of Apollo’s profits to Planned Parenthood, CAIR, the ACLU, The National Center for Transgender Equality, The Trevor Project, Exodus Refugee (of Indiana), or other similar organizations.
"If it sometimes takes a proverbial 2x4 to the back of the head to make someone realize that all humans deserve respect and love," DeGroot continues, "then I am more than happy to be the one wielding that 2x4."