Target’s Retreat From Pride Merch Amid Conservative Threats

June is approaching at a rapid rate, and everyone can feel the excitement in the air. Schools will be out, summer will be in full swing, and people will be flocking to bodies of water by the busload. And, for a select few, another exciting time is coming.

A Time for Pride

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That time is the season of pride. June has been crowned as the international pride month, where members of the LGBTQ+ community celebrate their identity and live out loud. Amongst this time, corporations also participate by launching their own line of rainbow- dripped apparel.

A Scene for Green

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However, many queer organizations have questioned the motivations behind the production of such merchandise. While they claim to be standing in allyship with the queer community, others speculate it to be a mere cash grab.

Eye on the Target

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Rumors of false allyship have circled around several large conglomerates, but recently, talk focuses on a particular company: Target. The once prime source for pride paraphernalia has now dwarfed their selection. 

No More Color

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On Friday this past week, Target stated that it will no longer supply queer pride merchandise during June. This news came about after Target released notable drops in their financial records. They extrapolated that it was a direct result of supporting the LGBTQ+ demographic.

“Research” Shows

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With around 2,000 stores open across the US, Target reaches a wide variety of patrons. When commenting on the issue, the company stated that “guest insights and consumer research.” has backed their decision.

Moving Online

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While it is unclear where, if any, locations will provide pride themed apparel and supplies, doors are not completely shut. The corporation claims that much of their specialized products for June can still be purchased via online platforms.

Welcoming Diversity?

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When questioned about the choice, Target responded through email “Target is committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community,”. The email continued “Most importantly, we want to create a welcoming and supportive environment for our LGBTQIA+ team members…”

Other Weigh In

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The move has already sparked backlash. Human Rights Campaign president Kelley Robinson has categorized Target’s strategy as a move backwards rather forwards. Robinson worries that its consequences could marginalize LGBTQ+ individuals.

Not to Be Erased

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Robinson commented on how Target may be participating in pride for superficial reasons. “Pride merchandise means something,” Robinson clarified, following up with a strong statement, ”LGBTQ+ people are in every zip code in this country, and we aren’t going anywhere.” 

Unclear Motives

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Despite strong assurance that the changes were brought on by fiscal merits, many remember events that unfolded last June. Conservative and anti-queer individuals entered several Target locations to destroy merchandise put out on pride displays. 

Folding More Than Clothes

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Aggressive clientele was not the only taste of controversy Target faced. LGBTQ+ members and  activists found themselves disappointed with how the retail chain reacted. Rather than doubling down in favor of gay rights, the company folded with cowardice.

Start a Riot

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In some Target locations, in order to appease the threats of conservatives, pride displays were moved to the back of the store. While this did appease some, the more zealous of the anti-LGBTQ+ groups continued by posting inciteful content on social media.

Not Alone

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The juggling of values is a struggle that Target carries alone. Many companies, navigating an era of high political tension, are attempting to market their brand above the cultural input. A brand in a similar Sisyphean trap is the beverage company Bud Light.

A Path of Destruction

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In efforts to be more inclusive to trans patrons the beer company sponsored an ad Dylan Mulvaney, famed trans influencer. When the ad was released, outraged right wingers flocked to local shops in efforts to treat Bud Light products in an identical method to Target’s pride merch. 

CEO Speaks Up

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After a torrent pride season and a drop in sales, Brian Cornell, Target’s CEO, announced that merchandise for pride 2024 would need to be more carefully considered. Some have interpreted this as the company’s way to back out of supporting marginalized groups. 

Moving Forward

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“As we navigate an ever-changing operating and social environment, we’re applying what we’ve learned to ensure we’re staying close to our guests and their expectations of Target,” concluded Cornell.

Standing Or Sitting?

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It may be quite apparent that large retail companies sponsor pride wares in efforts to increase their pocket. However, recent years with the polarizing discussion of trans rights has resulted in many corporations becoming less vocal in efforts to stand up for the queer community.

The post Target’s Retreat From Pride Merch Amid Conservative Threats first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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