Target retailer removed some LGBTQ Pride merchandise after customer complaints.
Target faces backlash over Pride merchandise
Target, one of the largest retailers in the US, has been facing criticism and controversy over its Pride merchandise, which includes clothing, books, accessories and home goods celebrating LGBTQ+ identities and culture. The company launched its Pride collection at the beginning of May, ahead of Pride month in June, but has since received negative feedback from some customers who find the products offensive, inappropriate or contrary to their beliefs.
According to Reuters, Target has decided to remove some items from its stores and website after experiencing “threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work”. The items that have been removed are from a brand called Abprallen, which is associated with a British designer named Eric Carnell. Carnell has been accused of using satanic imagery and symbols on his merchandise, such as pentagrams, horned skulls and inverted crosses. Some of his products also featured slogans like “cure transphobia not trans people” and “too queer for here”.
Target spokesperson Kayla Castaneda told Reuters that the company was also reviewing other products from its Pride collection, such as transgender swimsuits and children’s books. She said that some of these products have been the target of “confrontational behavior” from customers who disagree with them or find them objectionable. For example, a swimsuit sold in the women’s section was described as “tuck friendly”, implying that it could conceal male genitalia. Some children’s books also raised concerns for promoting gender fluidity and diversity to young readers.
Target has been a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion for over a decade, and has previously faced boycotts and lawsuits from conservative groups for its policies on transgender bathrooms and donations to LGBTQ+ organizations. The company said that it was proud of its Pride collection and that it was committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all its customers and employees. However, it also said that it was making adjustments to its plans in response to the feedback and incidents that have occurred.
The backlash against Target’s Pride merchandise comes amid a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and sentiment in some states, especially in the South. According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 250 bills targeting LGBTQ+ people have been introduced in state legislatures this year, many of them aimed at restricting transgender rights and access to health care, sports and education. Some of these bills have been signed into law by Republican governors, sparking protests and lawsuits from LGBTQ+ activists and allies.
Target is not the only company that has faced criticism for its support of LGBTQ+ causes. Bud Light recently faced a social media backlash for featuring a transgender influencer named Dylan Mulvaney in one of its ads promoting its rainbow-colored bottles for Pride month. Some users accused the beer company of pandering to the LGBTQ+ community and promoting an agenda that goes against traditional values and morality.