LGBT activists are outraged that Target won’t sell “Pride” swag to kids

Some of you may remember that last year, at least nine Target stores in the U.S. received bomb threats after they announced that they would be pulling some of their “pride” merchandise in response to consumer backlash. “We will continue to bomb your Targets until you stop cowering and bring back your LGBT merchandise,” the anonymous writer announced. “We will not be erased, we won’t go quietly.” 

Fortunately, the threatened bombings did not materialize, although the media’s coverage of the threats were a masterclass in obfuscation. Perhaps the best headline, from, ran thusly, “At Least 9 Target Stores Received Fake Bomb Threats Over Pride Merchandise.” Notice that the headline is worded to make the reader believe that the threats came as from a would-be bomber opposed to LGBT ideology rather than an LGBT activist; additionally, the threats themselves were not “fake” – they were threats.

Either way, the threats do not seem to have been very effective. On May 9, Target announced that it would be limiting its LGBT-themed merchandise to only a handful of its almost 2,000 stories based on “historical sales performance.” In other words, the conservative boycotts of Target – which kicked off in response to Target’s decision to sell a wide range of LGBT merchandise targeted at children – paid off. (One of the kid’s shirts read: “Trans people will always exist!”) 

NBC cited the “firestorm over [Target’s] decision to sell products designed for transgender people [sic],” but it was the targeting of children that angered consumers the most. It is clear that that message, at least, was received, as Target notes specifically that its “pride merchandise” would be for adults. That said, the company went above and beyond to emphasize their support for the LGBT movement, noting that: 

  • Our Pride+ Business Council will host internal events and experiences where interested team members can learn, reflect, celebrate and connect. It’s complemented by the year-round resources and benefits we provide to our LGBTQIA+ team members, reflecting our culture of care for all 400,000 people who work at Target. 
  • We’re joining local Pride events in our hometown of Minneapolis and around the country. 
  • We’re offering a collection of products including adult apparel and home and food and beverage items, curated based on consumer feedback. The collection will be available on and in select stores, based on historical sales performance. 
  • We continue to support LGBTQIA+ organizations year-round, including Human Rights Campaign, Family Equality and more. 
  • Target also spotlights LGBTQ-owned brands in our assortment during Pride Month and throughout the year in our stores and online.

Which is to say that Target is trying to put a stop to the boycott but simultaneously promising the LGBT movement that they are still completely onside – in effect, begging them not to punish them for pulling the pro-LGBT children’s products.  

It is a well-founded fear, as despite the company’s groveling, the press still reported their move as a concession to “anti-LGBT” customers, and Target was forced to release another statement on Friday, reaffirming that they are “committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community [sic] during Pride Month and year-round… We have long offered benefits and resources for the community, and we will have internal programs to celebrate Pride 2024.” 

Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign (one of America’s most powerful LGBT lobby groups), responded with a barely-veiled threat, noting that “companies need to understand that community members and allies want businesses that express full-hearted support for the community.” She added: “Target’s decision is disappointing and alienates LGBTQ+[-identifying] individuals and allies at the risk of not only their bottom line but also their values.”  

To get that, you’ve got to sell stuff to the kids, too.  

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