Target Targets Pride

Target has no pride.

Why else would the Minnesota-based mega-retailer knuckle under when their LGBTQIA+-inspired items are the subject of homophobic and anti-trans harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence?

Target workers have been screamed at, according to the New York Times, and displays have been knocked to the ground. Right-wingers have also urged boycotting the chain. In the wake of these actions, their 2024 Pride Collection products are only available online and others are restricted to select stores in more gay-friendly locations – a distinct retreat from Target’s past support of LGBTQIA+ communities.

Target claims that their scaling-back of PRIDE month paraphernalia reflects its concern for the safety of its employees. Associated Press’s Anne D’Innocenzio points to another reason for Target’s one-step-forward-two-steps-back approach, calling it “another example of how companies are struggling to cater to different groups of customers at a time of extreme cultural divisions, particularly around transgender rights.”

Helen Reid of Reuters quotes transgender designer Erik Carnell on Target’s backpedaling: “It's a very dangerous precedent to set, that if people just get riled up enough about the products that you're selling, you can completely distance yourself from the LGBT community, when and if it's convenient...If you're going to take a stance and say that you care about the LGBT community, you need to stand by that regardless."

It's no secret that, in a highly polarized political and cultural scene, hate crimes aimed at LGBTQIA+ citizens and other minorities have increased dramatically over the last several years.

NPR reported in mid-May that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are warning “that foreign terrorist organizations may potentially target LGBTQ+ events and venues during Pride Month in June.”

We‘re on the side of Target’s employees and want them to feel safe in the workplace. Yet Target should realize that giving in rarely results in any kind of lasting safety and peace. A temporary lull in hostilities is usually just that: a lull. Right-wingers can be counted on to ruthlessly pursue even the slightest advantage and are often as well-organized as they are bigoted. Tenacious as wood ticks, impervious to reason or empathy, they’ll keep up their noxious behavior for as long as they can get away with it.

But here’s the thing. They’re also bullies – and bullies are cowards. If you stand up to them they frequently turn tail and run. Target needs to do more than simply issue a statement. If Target truly values its LGBTQIA+ employees and customers, it’s time they come out and actually do something about it.

One other action we can take is to shop retailers who support the queer and trans community. Or, even better, shop LGBTQ+ eCommerce brands that celebrate Pride Month.

Happy Pride Month all! Be sure to celebrate every minute.

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