Target pulls LGBTQ Pride collection pieces amid controversy
US retailer Target has pulled some of its LGBTQ+ Pride collection and displays from stores across the country after members of staff faced threats of violence.
The company confirmed on Tuesday (22 May) that it will be making changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise ahead of Pride month, which starts next week.
One of the changes includes moving the Pride collection to the back of some of its shops in southern states, following a backlash from shoppers.
The New York Post quoted a Target source as saying there were “emergency” meetings on Friday (19 May) to address right-wing customers’ outrage over the collections.
The 15-minute meeting included advice about keeping sales staff safe and what Pride-related items and signage to remove.
“We call our customers ‘guests,’ there is outrage on their part. This year it is just exponentially more than any other year,” the source said.
The company is “terrified of a Bud Light situation”, the insider added.
“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 centre of the most significant confrontational behaviour.”
Daily Beast journalist Matt Young shared an extract of the Target statement on Twitter.
Target has not yet confirmed which specific items or brands will be removed, but it is thought that its “tuck-friendly” swimsuits will no longer be on display.
The swimsuit prompted right-wing Americans to call for a boycott of the store, which sells thousands of products for heterosexual, cisgender people. Republican lawmaker Lauren Boebert was among those fuelling the outrage on social media.
Target chief executive Brian Cornell recently defended the retailer’s commitment to inclusion and LGBTQ+ representation while speaking to Fortune’s Leadership Next podcast.
“It’s helping us drive sales, it’s building greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and those are just the right things for our business today,” he said.
He told the Associated Press that the swimsuits, which provide wearers with extra crotch coverage, are only available in adult sizes.
Despite Target’s insistence that its change in policy is to protect staff, it has faced criticism online, with people accusing the retailer of “caving in” to right-wing threats.
Some have said that its stance puts LGBTQ+ people in more danger.
One person tweeted: “These people were making death and bomb threats against children’s hospitals, schools and LGBTQ venues.
“Every single time, it got the results they wanted. Why would they stop with Target? Anti-LGBTQ terrorism is continuing to work as intended.”
Bud Light faced a customer boycott over its collaboration with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney last month.
In a bid to regain its formerly loyal customer base, its parent company, Anheuser-Busch, is now said to said to be temporarily redesigning some of its packaging in camouflage print.
PinkNews has contacted Target for comment.
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