Just before Pride month begins in June, Target announced it would roll back on certain LGBTQ+-themed products in response to recent threats.
“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” Target said in a statement. “Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”
According to AP News, Target revealed that some customers caused damage to Pride displays in several stores, expressing their anger towards the employees and even sharing menacing videos on social media while inside the stores.
“The same people who say they want to protect children are now terrorizing innocent store employees,” Justin Culpepper from Pride Frisco told Local Profile. “While Target may have the luxury of relocating items to the back of the store to protect employee’s safety, I ask others to consider LGBTQIA+ people whose safety is threatened daily just for existing.”
However, Target chose not to disclose the exact items it was taking off the shelves. One of the items that garnered significant public attention was the “tuck-friendly” women’s swimsuits. These particular swimsuits cater to the needs of transgender women who have not undergone gender-affirming surgeries.
Target also told AP News that it moved its Pride merchandise from the front of the stores to the back in some Southern stores after confrontations and backlash from shoppers in those areas.
Pride Frisco told Local Profile that Target was seen as a significant supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. But these recent actions call into question its commitment.
“Our community needs allies that stand up on a continuous basis, not just those looking for a quick June marketing campaign who flee at the first sign of controversy,” Culpepper said. “Target has spent over 10 years cultivating a positive brand image among the LGBTQIA+ community; this decision has certainly tarnished that image.”
It is not clear when or if these rollbacks will occur in Collin County, but shoppers can expect to see a decrease in items or a new location for Pride merchandise.
“However well-intentioned, these actions by Target contribute to the stigmatization and erasure of LGBTQIA+ people,” Culpepper said. “This sends the message that LGBTQIA+ people and anything representing them are to be hidden or minimized. Target is attempting to have it both ways, but unfortunately, you can’t please everyone. If a person, organization, or company truly supports you, they wouldn’t try to minimize your existence.”