Everyone goes to Target when we need affordable pillows, two-liter sodas, a pan, or shirts, this year, however, some shirts are causing a rainbow of problems.
In the past, Target celebrated Pride month with an entranceway stuffed with a variety of items supporting the LGBTQ community.
This year, there’s concern about becoming the next “Bud Light.”
The New York Post reports that a Target insider says the company took “emergency” calls on Friday from panicky managers and district executives.
The company quickly decided to tamp down on the Pride displays this year, especially in conservative southern and western areas.
From the NY Post’s report:
“A Target insider told Fox News Digital that many locations, mostly in rural areas of the South, have relocated Pride sections to avoid the kind of backlash Bud Light has received in recent weeks after using a transgender influencer in a promotional campaign.”
Bud-Light, a beer that is as “American” as Target, featured the face of trans-influencer Dylan Mulvaney on some of its cans.
This unbelievably bold decision led many conservatives to compete on Twitter over who could blow up or shoot the most Bud-Light cases. (Story continues below):
Bud Light explosion… pic.twitter.com/58CBXyAIie
— Anon For Truth (@CITIZEN_SEEKER) May 8, 2023
The protest against Bud Light also resulted in lost sales, an element that Target wants to avoid.
But even though Target should be criticized for immediately making concessions to the far-right, it still maintains the high ground generally.
Just last week, Target CEO Brian Cornell spoke out in praise of the retailer embracing diversity to make “good business decisions” and drive up sales.
Moreover, this year’s concerns seem to be driven by employee and customer safety as much as sales. Again, from The New York Post’s insider:
[The call took] 10 minutes on “how to deal with team member safety” because of the amount of backlash the Pride merchandise has generated, noting that Target Asset Protect & Corporate Security teams were present on the call.
While it is true that Target “gave in” fast to the demands of the conservative right, the need to protect its employees and customers from those same conservatives cannot be questioned.
The danger is real.
It should also be noted that Target could have given in entirely, choosing to do away with its Pride departments entirely – at least in some blood-red areas.
It did not.
The Daily Beast’s Matt Young posted the company’s response to last night’s Post’s report, which then led to coverage on Fox News.
BREAKING: Full statement from Target announcing changes to Pride merchandise from stores ahead of June Pride month. Says threats to workers forced the change. pic.twitter.com/fuYtY1rhqn
— Matt Young (@MattYoung) May 24, 2023
It is unfortunate. Target certainly has been forward-thinking in celebrating Pride month for at least a decade without “much” controversy.
But this isn’t last year.
This year we have Kid Rock taking an assault rifle to cases of Bud Light, Ron DeSantis banning books, travel advisories for marginalized groups going to Florida, politicians playing pediatricians, and…
It is safe to say that the culture war is hotter and much more dangerous.
Target seems to have found a means to maintain its support of the LGBTQ community while also protecting people from real crossfire.
The store that stocks your Pride shirts doesn’t want to become an actual target.
Original reporting by Brian Flood at The New York Post.
I can be reached at email@example.com and @JasonMiciak