Target Yanks Some Pride Merch

Employees feared for safety, designer faced death threats
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 7:29 AM CDT
Target Pulls Some Pride Merchandise, Citing Threats
A worker collects shopping carts in the parking lot of a Target store on June 9, 2021, in Highlands Ranch, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Target will remove some LGBTQ-themed merchandise from its stores and website after shoppers threatened store employees and knocked down displays. The retailer has received negative reactions to its Pride Month merchandise, including rainbow-colored clothing and decor items, in the past, but employees have been met with an aggressive response this year, a rep says, per the Wall Street Journal. Since rolling out its Pride Collection earlier this month, the company says "we've experienced threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and well-being while at work." In addition to confronting employees, unhappy customers have made threats on social media using footage from inside stores, the rep says.

Some Target stores in southern states have moved Pride Month displays to less high-traffic areas, per the Journal. Target says it will also be "removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior." According to the Journal, a transgender-friendly swimsuit was among the items criticized online. CNN notes some women's swimsuits are described as "tuck-friendly," indicating they can help conceal male genitalia. The collection also includes "gender fluid" mugs, "queer all year" calendars, and children's books titled Bye Bye, Binary and I'm Not a Girl, CNN reports. Target says it's reviewing transgender swimsuits and children's merchandise, with a decision pending.

Products from Abprallen, British transgender designer Eric Carnell's brand, have already been removed due to backlash to Satanic imagery in some designs, per CNN. An Abprallen sweater reading "cure transphobia not trans people" also included the image of a snake, per the Washington Post. Carnell says Target faced calls for boycotts, while "many Christians have sent me death threats, and detailed description of violence they would enact on me," per HITC. "We have a longstanding commitment to the LGBTQ community, and we stand firm in that, but the reality is that the safety situation has become untenable," says the Target rep. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, however, accuses Target CEO Brian Cornell of "selling out the LGBTQ+ community to extremists," per the Post. (More Target stories.)

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